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The Remarkable Benefits of Purpose

Victor Frankel learned a lot about human behavior by observing people under the most inhuman circumstances.

Victor wasn’t just observing the behaviors of others under horrible conditions. He was also living under these oppressive conditions.

Victor and the people he observed were beaten mercilessly, forced to do grueling manual labor, and randomly executed.

Victor’s observations of human behavior occured in concentration camps. There many people declared “undesirables” were subjected to brutal, inhumane treatment on a daily basis.

Victor learned from his “observations” the secret to human survival.

He noted that it wasn’t those with most physical strength who were able to endure and survive this harsh treatment.

The best survivors were people who found purpose in the midst of their suffering.

Those people who lost their purpose died.

This surprising observation, led Victor to the insightful conclusion:

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose … He who has a WHY to live, can bear with almost any HOW.”

Victor Frank documents his  experiences and insights in his groundbreaking book Man’s Search For Meaning.

I encourage you to read or re-read this amazing book. I find it to be an inspiring and insightful account of the centrality of purpose to the human experience.

As I recently reflected on the importance of purpose, I identified three distinctive benefits that come from having a clear purpose in our lives.

This list of the benefits of purpose is not meant to be comprehensive. But it reflects what I believe to be the most valuable gifts we gain from knowing and living our life purpose.

I hope this list inspires you to take invest in discovering and expressing your life purpose.

Here are the three top benefits that we gain from having a clear sense of purpose in our lives.

1. Purpose Produces Clarity and Focus

Discovering your life purpose will give you focus.

It will help you to make decisions in a way that’s easier and less stressful.

This is because purpose helps you to identify what’s important in life. This will help you be less conflicted and experience less anxiety about saying no.

You are free to make decisions about how you spend your time, money, and energy based on whether it aligns with your life purpose.

There are lots of wonderful things that you could be doing with your time or with your money. But they are not all good things for you to do. Having a clear sense of your purpose helps you to distinguish between the two.

When I first started my career as a college professor, I was so excited to finally have position that I’d worked towards for so many years. I wanted to be of service to the students, the community, and my University colleagues.

I was overcommitted and stressed out!

I found myself getting involved with something just because it was a good idea. But, as I got more clear on my purpose I decided that I could not invest in every good idea presented to me.

Before I agreed to take on any new commitments, projects, relationships, I asked myself a critical question:

“Is this in line with my purpose?”

This was how I raised the bar in my life.

Now, it’s much easier for me to say “no” to most requests. This habit makes it possible for me to give a resounding “yes” to the opportunities aligned with my purpose.

purpose helps you say no

I now have the time, resources, and energy to invest in the things that are important to me. I am able to do this without feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.

My purpose has given me focus.

2. Purpose Gives You Longer Life

Having a clear advice purpose helps you to live longer and a healthier life.

A study published in the 2014 issue of Psychological Science, documents the life extending effect of purpose.

In this national study, the researchers survey people and asked them to rate their sense of purpose in life from low to high.

Fourteen years later, those participants with a low sense of purpose were much more likely to have died. All other things being equal, having a sense of purpose made all the difference in their life expectancy.

I was surprise to find this relationship holds true in every age group.

It wasn’t just for older people that having a sense of purpose help them to live longer.  It was true for middle aged people and for people in their twenties.

The researchers concluded that having a sense of purpose gives people “protective benefits” to their life. Purpose enhances your physical well-being and has a cumulative effect.

So it’s actually better to develop a sense of purpose as early on as possible. This gives you more time to continue accumulating all the benefits that come with having a strong sense of purpose.

But, it’s never too late to invest time in discovering you purpose.

At whatever moment you get clear your purpose and start living out that purpose, it will extend your life.

3. Purpose Builds Up Your Resilience

Resilience allows you to bounce back from the setbacks that are inevitable in life.

When you’re resilient you, setbacks don’t stop you. Resilient people are able to use those setbacks as stepping stones to their success.

Resilience is the result of having a clear sense of your purpose.

Once you understand why a goal is important to you, you can overcome tremendous obstacles to acheive that goal.

Think about the remarkable survivors that Victor Frankl observed. They did not break even under brutal inhumane treatment. Their purpose gave them to resilience to endure.

live on purposeI often think about Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison. Yet, he was able to walk directly into world leadership upon from his release.

I’ve spent years teaching in prisons and I know that prison is a horrible place for anyone to be. Everyday, in both big and small ways, there are constant assaults on your safety, dignity, and humanity.

But because Nelson Mandela was clear on his purpose, he was able to walk out of prison as a whole man with a vision.

Mandela’s strong sense of purpose enabled him to lead South Africa into a new era of peace and  justice.

That’s the power of purpose.

Discover Your Purpose

When I’m talking with people about the importance of purpose, people often tell me that don’t know their life purpose. And that they don’t know how to discover it.

The best way to start uncovering your life purpose by reflecting on how you already bring value to others. Think about times in your life where you’ve made a difference in somebody’s life.

Your purpose is for others. Thinking about the ways you already add value to others can help you better understand your purpose.

Another reflection to get clarity on your life purpose is to consider the activities that place you in your flow.

What are the things you do that give you a feeling of timelessness?

These are activities that you could be doing this two hours, but it feels like just twenty minutes. That’s your flow.  It’s that kind of work where you are so fully engaged in the process that time seems to disappear.

Your flow is an excellent window into your purpose.

As you clarify your life purpose, you want to highlight it and expand it. This means organizing more of your activities and goals living out your purpose.

For those who are ready to live a life of purpose that connects with your passions, join us for a FREE 5-Day Challenge to Creating a Life Filled with Energy and Passion.

This challenge empowers you to create a life of purpose that fills you with energy and passion, drastically reduces your stress, and allows you to accomplish your most important goals.

How would it feel to be filled with confidence, energy, and be extraordinarily productive? 

Whether you are struggling to stay above the growing to-do lists or wanting to get the most out of each day, this 5-Day Productivity Challenge will give you simple and powerful tools to help you tap into your unique talents and energy to create the rich and rewarding life you deserve!

Get from under the pile of unending tasks, connect with your purpose, and reclaim your life. Click here to join our 5-Day Challenge to a life filled with energy and passion!

Having a strong sense of purpose benefits you and others. Commit to discovering and nurturing your purpose today!

Wishing you a life filled with meaning, purpose, and joy!

What No One Tells You about Success

Have you ever considered what history has to do with your present level of success and the likelihood of future success? It’s more than the proverbial statement “those that don’t know their history are bound to repeat it.” Recent social science research reveals that the knowledge of history improves our resiliency and increases our success.

Resiliency is a pre-requisite for success

 

Knowledge of our history can enhance our resiliency and provide each of us with the resources to succeed.

Knowledge of our history can enhance our resiliency and provide each of us with the resources to succeed.

Current social science research reveals that resiliency is a significant predictor of future success. Resiliency refers to our capacity to bounce back from traumatic life events or situations. We know that resiliency reduces emotional stress, increases life satisfaction and increases likelihood of success. Whether measuring athletic accomplishments or academic achievement, research shows that resiliency promotes optimal performance. In all areas of life individuals’ who have more resiliency experience more success.

 

We can not control where we start in life. Life often presents us with substantial challenges and negative situations beyond our choosing. However, Dr. Joy DeGruy’s research documents that knowledge of family history increases resiliency and success for at-risk youth. In other words, the more history a young person knows, the greater likelihood of success in spite of the challenges of the social environment.

 

3 Ways history can increase resiliency and success

#1. Knowledge of history creates a system of personal accountability

History can create a sense of accountability that promotes our success.

History can create a sense of accountability that promotes our success.

We stand here today as the result of great efforts from others on our behalf. Some examples of the individual and collective work done on our behalf include: our family’s efforts to provide for us until we could provide for ourselves, unknown soldiers fighting for our political freedom, and social activists fighting for our social and economic opportunities. Whether they know us by name or not, we are beneficiaries of of these people’s work. This knowledge places responsibility upon us to behave in a manner that honors their investments in us. I can still remember everyday before going to school, my mother’s instruction “Don’t do anything that will embarrass me.” It was clear to me from a young age that my behavior at school and in public did not only reflect me, but my mother as well. My mother is a woman of great pride and dignity who has worked hard to protect this dignity in spite of varied assaults and I would never want to do something that would bring shame to her. Detailed knowledge of the efforts of others for us instills a sense of personal accountability beyond ourselves.

#2. Knowledge of history provides emotional support

We are not alone, we have an entire community of supporters cheering for our success.

We are not alone, we have an entire community of supporters cheering for our success.

Although we may be physically standing in a classroom or boardroom by ourselves, our connection to our family and collective history reminds us that in spirit we are surrounded by a community of supporters cheering us on. This awareness provides us with the strength and confidence to succeed in spaces that are not necessarily welcoming or comfortable. It is difficult to be “the only.” The only person of color in a white classroom, the only woman in a male dominated field, the only person from a working class family in an elite profession. Visualizing our family with us is a way of claiming that social space as our own and asserting our right to be there.  In situations where you are the minority, there are numerous subtle and not so subtle messages that you do not belong. However, when you recognize that you are not “the only” one and that you have a larger community of people standing there with you, there is a renewed sense of strength and belonging. This provides you with the confidence needed to succeed in the face of others’ questions about your ability.

 

#3 Knowledge of history identifies us as overcomers

History reminds us that we are overcomers.

History reminds us that we are overcomers.

Reviewing our history reminds us that people have faced similar or greater struggles and have overcome through determination and effort. That struggle could be as individual as your grandmother being left alone to parent eight children on her own but rising to the task and doing her best to make sure every child was fed and loved. Or it could be a collective struggle, like remembering your grandparents who survived the Jewish Holocaust or the Armenian genocide in Turkey. These personal stories remind you that you are not the first person to experience devastating hardship. You come from a people that have experienced intense suffering and yet have been able to survive and transform that suffering into personal triumph. You are a product of their success and you have inherited this legacy of being an overcomer. The same spiritual, social, and emotional resources your family and community used to succeed are available to you at any moment of need.

 

Fuel your success engine with history

You can now see the wisdom of Carter G. Woodson’s decision to start “Negro History Week”, which later became “Black History Month”.  The activities of this month help to educate non-Black people about the value of the Black community’s contribution to America and the world. Yet I believe that the biggest impact of these activities is the strength and resilience it gives to people who identify as members of the Black community. These stories of history infuse Black people, young and old, with psychological and spiritual resources to succeed.

 

The act of sharing the stories is passing on a gift of strength and resilience that fuels our individual and collective success.

The act of sharing the stories is passing on a gift of strength and resilience that fuels our individual and collective success.

Regardless of whether you are a member of the Black community, I invite you to consider how you can participate in this powerful act of using your history to promote your success. Dr. DeGruy’s research reminds us that intimate knowledge of our personal family history is just as important as knowledge of our collective history in increasing our resilience and success. Take time to learn about and reflect upon your individual family’s history. How can you use these stories to increase your success? In addition, make sure to share your personal history with others as a means of promoting their success.  Your experiences and choices have taught you important lessons about yourself and the world. These lessons don’t have to packaged in a neat bow or be confined to a particular month of the year; they are gifts of wisdom that can equip others with the resiliency needed to succeed.

 

If you would like to share a story about the gift of resiliency that fuels your success or the success of others, please do so below. You have no idea of the power of your story until you tell it.

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