Life Purpose and Genuine Success
Once we have mastered the skills and cultivated the mindset that supports achievement the next facet of genuine success is to work out what defines success for us. Achievement alone can elevate our mood but if it is not aligned with our purpose then after awhile it can become a series of short term highs instead of a source of lasting satisfaction.
Firstly, we must define what success means for you. Buying a new car or house, or getting away for a bit of winter sun on an expensive holiday are all classic signs of success in the western world. And they’re great, who doesn’t love new things and a winter tan? Plus, it can feel good when other people look up to us and admire what we have or what we have achieved. The problem is the car and house age and the eventually the tan fades. Then we are left looking for the next new thing. Before long we are like a hamster on a wheel running fast to stay in the same place. For many people at some point the joy-of-stuff wears thin and they begin to contemplate what genuine success would look like for them.
Discovering our personal source of success is not as easy as it might seem. Most of our early years, when we are most susceptible to messages about who we are and what makes us tick, are governed by the adults around us. Then of course there is the media telling us that a person can be measured by how they look and what they have. How is the child to sort out what truly matters to them?
There are, of course, some lucky individuals, who have always known the answer to that question. They pursue their passion from an early age and go on to make a living doing the thing they love. Often for them genuine success comes naturally.
Sadly, these people tend to be in a minority. For so many others Monday morning is accompanied by a feeling of dread. The good news is getting to a low point can be the catalyst that propels us to discovering what really matters.
Often we think of life purpose as achieving a particular goal or doing something great. We admire people who have achieved wonderful things or brought new ideas to light. When we think about our life purpose we often think about what we will “do” in the world. But perhaps thinking about “being” rather than “doing” would be more helpful for exploring life purpose.
Each of us brings unique strengths and virtues to the world. Understanding our purpose is about realising those strengths and virtues and how they interplay to create impact in our work, relationships and communities. Through this self-knowledge we can achieve success by finding ways to express our strengths and virtues through everything we do and how we do things.
“Life purpose is not an outcome but an expression of your uniqueness”
You should already have a list of your strengths from a previous exercise. The following section outlines how to explore your virtues.
Virtues 2.0 Model – Life Purpose and Success Through living Your Virtues
Virtues is a very old idea with lots of baggage. It’s frequently associated with the morality. Sadly, not as a goal to aspire to personally but more as a stick to beat others. So in this model “virtues” has had an upgrade. A virtue 2.0 virtue has the following characteristics:
1.They relate to actions that align with human universals that promote social cohesion and success. (Human Universals refer to the activities and traits we see across the globe in successful groups.They include features, such as fairness, reciprocation, sharing, and empathy.)
2.They are characteristics which a person chooses to embody. For example Mother Teresa could be described as embodying compassion because of the actions she took to care for the destitute in India.
The model consists of 7 virtues:
refers to the propensity to use your mind to create something new or solve a problem be it in the sphere of art, business, literature, science, engineering, medicine, social or academia etc. People who live this virtue tend to have many ideas sometimes more than they can reasonably realise. They love new ideas and share their ideas readily. An innovator/creator understands their creative process, they know how to generate new ideas. They also know how to convert the idea from concept to reality even though they may enlist others to help in the transformation.
Appreciation of other peoples’ suffering and your own. Seeing from someone else’s point of view coupled with a willingness to help. Someone who lives this virtue understands other peoples’ suffering and their own. This virtue includes empathy, seeing from someone else’s point of view coupled with a willingness to help. Compassionate people do not show pity for others but understanding and respect along with a willingness and ability to take practical actions to help.
Other focus, to let go of belief that one is more important than everyone else. Avoid sense of entitlement. Develop an understanding of the power and sense of satisfaction that comes from global unity. Includes a perspective of oneness (what effects you, effects all of us), equality and truth.
Appreciation refers to the ability to feel appreciation for ideas, things or people and the things other people do. It includes a willingness to acknowledge or express those feelings. A person living the virtue of appreciation, revels in any opportunity to express gratitude. An appreciative person can feel appreciation for the smallest things, they always take the time to dwell on beauty wherever they find it and in whatever form it appears. Even if what another person has done is not immediately beneficial, the practiced appreciator can see potential long term benefits.
This virtue includes the ability to forgive oneself and others for what has been done or has failed to be done. Includes skills of empathy and understanding. The person living this virtue understands the power of forgiveness to set themselves and others free from the burden of resentment and anger. They are willing to share the story of their journey to a deeper understanding of forgiveness and the peace it creates. Those living this virtue inspire forgiveness in others.
The virtue of courage includes the willingness and ability to standup and be counted. Includes taking actions that run counter to ones best interests in order to support another person or an ideal. People who live this virtue may not consider themselves courageous or brave. The actions they take to standup for others or an ideal seem to them so obviously the only thing to do that thoughts of the risks involved are overwhelmed.
Ability and willingness to take action to care for a person, animal or the environment either to alleviate a need or aid improvements. Includes teaching, nursing, child care, any helpful or kind action.
Please take the virtues 2.0 questionnaire and make a note of your top virtues.
How do your top virtues relate to your work?