The Power of Purpose

posted October 23rd, 2009 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

The Power of Purpose by Richard J. Leider is a book which was developed by the author interviewing older adults (over age 65) and asking them the following question: “If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?”. The author says three themes wove their way through all the interviews. The older adults consistently said that if they could live their lives over again, they would: Be more reflective. Be more courageous. Be clear earlier about purpose.


From his interviews, the author concluded that purpose naturally resides deep inside the human soul. He observed that all people seemed to have a natural desire and capacity to contribute to life. “Every one of us, somehow, wants to leave footprints. Purpose is unique to each of us alone. Each of us is an experiment of one. We can learn from but not adopt the purpose of another. We must each discover our own.”


He says: ” A sense of purpose is rarely handed to us. We get it by deciding to have it. We get it by deciding that, yes I matter. A sense of purpose comes from within, and only we know we have it. Only we know if there is something in our life that makes us want to get up in the morning.”


He goes on to say: “One of the chief requisites for feeling the true joy in life is purpose. A constant in the lives of people who experience a sense of day-to-day aliveness is the discovery of their purpose. We need at our very core to be somebody. We need evidence to believe that we are good people and are growing or becoming as much as we can be. Clarifying our purpose helps us satisfy a basic need that we’re being used for a purpose recognized by ourselves as a mighty one.”

The author says: “Nothing shapes our lives as much as the questions we ask, or refuse to ask, throughout our lives. Purpose, however, is not a question that we can answer once and be done with it. We typically bring up the question of purpose about every ten years throughout our lives. At those times and during major life transitions, we ask questions like: Who am I? What am I meant to do here? What am I trying to do with my life?”


One of my favourite exercises from this book is this one: “Look ahead. How old do you think you’ll live to be? Imagine you’re that age. As you look back on your life, what would you like to be able to say is your legacy — how you became the somebody you were destined to be? What might you do with your remaining time so that you can look back over your life with no regrets?”


I hope you enjoy the book or the exercise or both!! Please share your thoughts, comments, questions, feedback on this book or any other in the Comments section or the Resources section of the Forums.

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