When was the first time you got a glimpse of the thing you knew wanted to do one day?
For me, I was 5 years old, running around the playground of my preschool when someone fell out of a tree. I immediately ran over to see if they were okay. Looking back, this is the first sign I remember of wanting to dedicate my life to helping others.
Over the years, the exact make-up of what that looks like has changed.
I thought about being a fireman.
I strongly considered studying medicine before opting for engineering, instead.
I then focused on green building within the engineering industry.
And after deciding that wasn’t for me, I became a personal trainer.
Then a health coach.
Then a life coach.
And now a high-performance coach for entrepreneurs.
One of my favorite analogies about this kind of journey comes from my friend Smiley Poswolsky who refers to this process as the career lilypads, rather than a career ladder.
Some might look at this evolution and think it’s unsettled or fleeting, but this is the path of purpose as it occurs today. We have a central theme that runs through every step of the journey (in my case, helping others), and then different iterations of that as we evolve and grow ourselves along the way.
Rich Litvin refers to this as purpose with a big P and purpose with a small p.
Purpose with a big P is your reason for being here. It’s the legacy you want to leave behind. It’s the way you show up and the impact you’re here to make. It’s that central theme I mentioned earlier.
Purpose with a small p is the current iteration of what that looks like at this stage of your life. It’s your current focus and the projects you’re working on right now.
At this point, you might be thinking: “Great, Bryan. Now I have to find TWO purposes when I can’t even find ONE?”
Not so. Think back to all the ideas and roles that have inspired you. What is it about them that lit you up? What is the common impact they had on those around you? That’s your big P purpose.
Now brainstorm all the things you’re good at, the things you enjoy doing, and the things people need that move you towards that desired impact. At that intersection point is where you’ll find all your possible small p purposes. Pick one, experiment with it, and come back to the list to iterate if need be.
And finally, remember that your purpose isn’t a place to get to, it’s a place to come from.
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