Help Others To Help Yourself

So many people have so much to live on but nothing to live for.

Do you ever feel that no matter what you do, it won’t be good enough? Or do you ever wonder why you aren’t further ahead in some area of your life? A lot of people are struggling with those questions.

You may even wonder what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. Well you’re not alone.

Such questions are a sign that you may be lacking a clear sense of purpose in your life or in your business. In fact, you may not even know what a purpose is let alone have one.

In its simplest form, purpose is all about vision. You can see WHERE you want to go in your life and in your business. And you know WHY you want to go there.

In my Peak Performance Boot Camp, I teach a simple but powerful formula that I call the Dream Maker’s Formula. It says:


In other words, you have to have all three ingredients to be a success–vision, action, and passion. But it all starts with vision or purpose.

If you lack any one of the three ingredients, you’re in trouble. For example, if you have everything but vision, you’ll be a workaholic. As the formula indicates:


People in this category don’t know the difference between “being called” and “being driven.”

If you lack passion, you may get by, but that’s about all. You’re a survivor but not an outrageous success. I say:


People like this may have something to live on but nothing to live for.

Finally, there are those who have all the ingredients except action. They’re long on talk and short on action. They follow the formula that says:


They face the future with more apprehension than anticipation because they never take time to design their future.

Quite simply, there are few things more powerful and beneficial than having a clear sense of purpose. In fact, you can expect three key benefits when you have your purpose clearly defined.

First, you will have PERSISTENCE. Best-selling author Tim Connor talks about that in his book, That’s Life. He writes: “Purpose is the single most important motivator in a person’s life. It keeps you keeping on when all around you is caving in before your eyes–when nothing seems to work–when people have abandoned you and life seems to have forgotten your existence.”

Seven-year old Brian Cole from Mankato, Minnesota learned that some years ago. As a first grader, he heard about a swim marathon to raise money for cancer research. He wanted to help because his cousin had died of cancer two years earlier.

So he went out collecting pledges. He asked people to pledge a certain amount of money for each lap he would swim. He told them he hoped to swim 10 laps, the number his teacher had instructed him to tell his potential sponsors.

Come the day of the marathon, Brian jumped in the pool and started swimming. He swam up and down, back and forth, stopping for the first time when he completed 100 laps–and only then to put on his goggles because the chlorine was stinging his eyes. After putting on his goggles, he swam another 8 laps.

Brian’s parents were astonished by their son’s accomplishment. But they were also a little embarrassed. How would they tell Brian’s sponsors that their son had swum 108 laps when they only expected to pay on a fraction of that?

So they called Brian’s sponsors to explain the situation and release them from their agreement. It was no problem. Almost everyone paid in full, and some non-sponsors even threw in some money. Brian simply said he was “swimming for sick people. Maybe if someone had done this before, my cousin Mary would still be alive.”

That’s the first thing purpose will do for you. It will give you persistence. As Holocaust, concentration camp survivor Vicktor Frankl said, “You can tolerate almost any ‘what’ when you have an important ‘why’.” And clinical psychologist Dr. Bev Smallwood goes on to say, “When you have a significant ‘why,’ you’ll manage to find a ‘how’.”

The second thing you’ll get from purpose is MEANING–meaning for your life or your business. As author Diane Ackerman says, “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”

For most people, meaning in life is connected to making a difference in the lives of others. The world famous psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Menninger, stressed that.

One time he was giving a lecture on mental health and answering questions from the audience. One person asked him, “What would you advise a person to do if that person felt a nervous breakdown coming on?”

Most people expected him to say, “Consult a psychiatrist.” To their amazement, he replied; “Lock up your house, go across the railway tracks, find someone in need and do something to help that person.”

The 86-year old actor Kirk Douglas has found that to be true. After playing the strong, virile, tough guy in 82 films, he suffered a stroke in 1995. It made him totally helpless for a while.

Then in 1997 he found a new purpose, rebuilding school playgrounds that had become too old, dilapidated, or dangerous to use. He began raising money and even selling items from his personal art collection–including original paintings by Picasso and Van Gogh–to help schools with this project. He and his wife, Anne, have appeared at the reopening of 160 playgrounds so far and say they have 264 to go.

Like Michael J. Fox and Christopher Reeve, Kirk Douglas says the best way to quit feeling sorry for yourself is to make a difference in the lives of others. Are you doing that? I hope so. There’s meaning and power in such a purpose.

Finally, purpose will give you DIRECTION. In fact if you don’t have a clear purpose, you may be terribly scattered. You may spend energy on a thousand different things, none of which brings truly outstanding results.

Purpose, on the other hand, tells you what’s important and what’s not. And purpose keeps you moving in the direction of what’s important.

Dr. William Mitchell says it quite well. He’s the educator who developed the school program “POPS,” The Power of Positive Students. He says when you have a purpose, it’s like shooting arrows at a target. Not all the arrows hit the bulls-eye, but they all go in one direction.

Purpose might sound rather esoteric, academic, or even a little soft. Let me reassure you it’s not. Behind every successful person and every successful business is a clear, significant, and powerful purpose.

Maybe it’s time to get out your purpose and make sure you’re living by it. Make sure you’re living your life on purpose and not by accident.

And if you’ve never taken time to really define your purpose, you’ve got to get my newly released CD album entitled “Take Charge: 6 Strategies for Acheiving More Than Ever Before.” Click here for ordering information. And you’ve got to read next week’s “Tuesday Tip” for a few ideas on how to start the process.

Action:  Ask yourself 50 times this week, “What do I stand for?” Take a few seconds to think of your answer or various answers, and write them down. It’s an important first step in the process of defining your purpose.