The books written about Purpose or “Finding Your Inner Purpose” on Amazon have it almost right. They just spelled it wrong.
Change a few letters and you’ll have more fun.
Finding a purpose can feel heavy. A porpoise is buoyant.
Just to be clear, I think having a deep sensing about the “why” of life can help you through the “how.”
But the statements of purpose that we hang on the wall often go flat.
Porpoises, on the other hand, soar.
Have you ever been to one of those weekend growth seminars (guilty as charged) where you stand up on Sunday afternoon and announce to the whole group how you’ve found the meaning of life, or discovered your life’s (yep) purpose?
You feel bold and “empowered.”
But by Monday morning your Big Insight has already faded.
It probably dove back into the deep sea from whence it came.
Which is why I recommend focusing on porpoises, who go deep and then surface again.
My attempts to teach about vision and purpose
When I taught leadership to managers, we did a Very Important Exercise (VIE) in which I asked class members to write about their vision, mission, and purpose. While vision-loving participants perked up and grabbed their pens, others looked as if they had been hit by a sledgehammer or realized that they had to check all of the emails they had received over the previous week.
With hindsight, it might have been better to start with questions about specific moments in their lives, asking them to:
- Describe a supper you had on the Fourth of July and who was with you.
- Write about the funniest (or most awful) thing that happened at your wedding.
- Tell about the one person you never want to meet up with again.
Chances are, questions like these will produce a set of living, breathing answers instead of verbal monuments you can pin to your wall. (I tested this in my workshop “Writing the Moments.”)
In praise of the porpoise-driven life
Knowing your Inner Porpoise invites you into the land of play. Near the beach. In the water. With lots of great fish. No need to sit in a sterile training classroom contemplating the meaning of life.
Instead, I invite you to relish being outside, notice what nature is up to, stop leaving trash in the oceans, and try to leap in the air again. (I can only jump a half inch, but it’s the spirit that counts.)
Having a purpose as we age
Having a purpose in our later years has been “proved to be important.”
It is reported to help one get out of the bed in the morning, even when aching joints beg for another two hours of sleep.
I propose an alternate approach: get a dog.
Jackson, my foster dog, is gifted at getting us out of bed. Every morning he announces, with a big, baritone bark, that 5:45 am is late for breakfast and if we don’t prepare it NOW he will wake up the entire neighborhood.
To compensate, Jackson rewards us with slobbery kisses and tail-wags. I have never seen a purpose do a happy-dance.
As a meaning-seeking junkie, I admit that the quest for “what’s it all about” can be very addicting and I’m often drawn to write about it.
Perhaps I would be better off if I spent my time:
- Tracking whether the “shot weed” or the “sticky weed” will win the Millionth Weed contest this spring on my property.
- Discovering why I have a hundred hazelnut trees and yet never see a single nut (might have something to do with gray, bushy-tailed marauders).
- Learning how to play nice with the thatching ants that have created a four-foot monument to antdom in the middle of my ornamental garden bed.
These concrete issues beg for attention.
The meaning of life is an oasis that keeps disappearing as I approach it.
Having an Inner Porpoise will not transform you into a GBP (Genuinely Better Person) or give you permission to feel superior to folks. That would be very un-porpoise-like. Porpoises know that they live in a fragile eco-system where everyone has to pull together as a team, and no one gets to take more than their fair share.
Time to delete your inner smugness about being transformed.
Enjoy the Porpoise-Driven life
Learn to go deep under the surface of life. Swim in the ocean of great unknowns.
Amazon lists over 50,000 books about purpose.
I checked and there are currently NO books on Amazon on the “Porpoise-Driven Life” or “Finding Your Inner Porpoise.” If I hurry, I’ll have a crack at becoming the number one Amazon Bestseller in this category.
Unless you get there first.