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BriefConsulting 2.4: Purpose Full

I’ve been to the week-long workshops and the retreats and the brown bag booster shot luncheons where we sat together hoping to conjure up that feeling of being connected to a higher purpose. I’ve been saved, enslaved, and raved at; over-charged, barged in on, and marginalized in my pursuit. Either I’m full of it or they are, or maybe we all are.

I hold purposeful pursuit as one of my Seven Ethical Responsibilities. As a Brief Consultant—heck, as a man—I’ve grown to understand that few diseases do more damage than purposelessness. And for the longest time, I misunderstood where that purpose had to come from, and what purposeful pursuit really meant. Maybe all that church-going in my youth convinced me that little old me couldn’t quite qualify as a high-enough purpose; that what I wanted didn’t really matter if only I could connect with some ’truly’ higher purpose, I’d be in deep cotton. Deep shit, more likely.

The pursuit of higher purpose probably punctures more tires than it ever inflates. I know, the thought of finally becoming purposefully connected to something bigger than little old you, that pursuit of something worth pursuing, can energize for a long, long while. The promise it provides might be a lie, and one subtle enough to encourage anyone to let their life slip by. Haven’t found it yet, still looking. Still haven’t found it, still looking.

One of the more unrecognized forms of stuckness results from this pursuit of the pseudo-salvation of higher purpose. The lust after the glowy bestowed-upons. The starry-eyed aspiration for worthy-hood. The leverage point ceded to an oh-so-sweet-seeming by and by

My clients sometimes seem Purpose Full, filled with that pursuit of higher purpose I’m so painfully well-acquainted with. Some believe themselves to have grabbed the golden ring, others seem to think they’re right on the teetering edge of finally nabbing it. Others feel discouraged that their well-intended works have not yet elevated them to membership in that uber-exclusive club. Each has that etherial glow about them, one I could easily mistake for angelic if I hadn’t wrestled with that demon myself.

Purpose might be a meager thing. Any little personally meaningful thing might qualify. No higher power involved until the higher power of purposefulness actually shows up.

More angst has been expended on the pursuit of purpose than that pursuit ever deserved. Purpose seeps around the carefully constructed gaskets intended to hold everything together. When things fall apart, purpose runs free. Spot it out of its kennel, and it might gratefully lick your hand.

”I know,” I confide to my client, “it wasn’t supposed to work like this. But you’re in charge.”

Talk with people who find themselves connected with that elusive higher purpose, and you might discover the secret. None of them has acquiesced to that higher purpose. They qualified by being up to something themselves. And the group they belong to, the members aren’t up to anything like the same thing. Each pursues their individual purpose. That’s why they belong. And each finds leverage in their association, not by acquiescing to some common purpose, but by continuing, doggedly, to pursue their own individual purpose.

Having your purpose matters. The higher stuff follows. And nobody’s purpose need aspire to loftiness, certainly not at first. It might well gain altitude over time, but inviting others into the basket beneath your balloon will bring it crashing down to Earth. Rather stunningly.

”Just be who you are,” I suggest to my client, “as if that might qualify as more than simply good enough.”

Never mistake the context for the purpose. There are people admitted to the temple who have no freakin’ clue what they’re up to. And many, never considered for inclusion, who never aspired to belong to any purpose but their own.

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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