“How can I find more passion and meaning at work and in my life every day?” we ask.
“I don’t know what my purpose is…” some of us lament.
Incredible things can happen for us and others when we expand our comfort zones to make someone else comfortable.
There’s a story I read recently in the book God is Always Hiring by Regina Brett. Brett met this interpreter at an event just minutes before she walked on stage to give the keynote address. The interpreter asked if it was alright if she signed the speech for anyone in the audience who was hearing-impaired.
Brett agreed, and with a couple minutes to spare, she asked her what got her interested in sign language. She thought she had been raised by deaf parents or had someone hard of hearing in her immediate family.
The interpreter shared this unforgettable story:
She was just 14 that summer she worked at the ice cream shop. One day a man walked in and held up a sign: one large chocolate cone. She thought it was a bit odd, but scooped the cone and handed it to him. Whenever he came in he always held up the sigh for the same order. It finally hit home that the man was deaf.
So she got a book out of the library and taught herself some sign language. It took her half an hour to learn one question for her customer. The next time the man came into the ice cream parlour, she signed the words: How may I help you? He was stunned. So stunned he left the store without getting his usual order. Did she sign the wrong words? Did she somehow offend him?
Minutes later he came back and brought with him a carload of hearing impaired friends.
They came into the shop; he looked at her then signed to them, they looked at her, and they all started to cry.
This woman became a professional interpreter and a college professor who teaches sign language for a living.
It’s worth repeating: Incredible things can happen for us and others when we expand our comfort zones to make someone else comfortable.
We often think of purpose as hugely mysterious and in need of pursuit: we must find our purpose.
What if our purpose is meant to find us by the actions we take beyond what we deem comfortable?
We are inspired to take action on an idea for a project, an alteration to an existing product or service, to write a song, to ask someone out. Then we falter. What if?
We think of everything that could go wrong; we see the volcano erupting and the lava flowing until it consumes us and we are no more. And in that moment, without realising, what started off as a simple step, transforms into a gap we have to jump across and with the passage of time that gap becomes an insurmountable chasm.
Author David Cain said, “When you avoid something, it doesn’t merely remain unfamiliar. It becomes stigmatised in your mind. With each instance of avoidance, your inclination to avoid it grows. Your relationship with the feared thing begins to approach “not in this lifetime.” Not going there becomes a part of your identity. "I don’t dance. Exercise and me don’t get along. I have zero creative talent, believe me.”
Here’s what happens when you follow those ideas or your intuition: your confidence increases each time you follow through because you slowly begin to develop faith in yourself.
Having employed avoidance for most of my life with occasional action spurts in the direction of the spark of what I know to be a good idea, I now recognise the value of taking action quickly by, as Cain so beautifully described it - “crossing the gap with the body before the mind starts digging trenches.”
Your life’s journey is less about finding your purpose. It is about taking action when you are nudged in the direction of something that might make you uncomfortable and knowing that within your discomfort (which won’t last) you will make someone comfortable. At which point your purpose would have found you.
What will it mean if you were to finally end self-sabotage, reclaim your power and design a future that pulls you toward what you want? To get the book Become a Well-Paid Professional! send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org