When you contribute your personal Service using your unique combination of talents, skills, strengths, interests, and abilities, whether as vocation or avocation, you fulfill your unique purpose. You are also fulfilling the Universal purpose by giving your you-ness in Service to the world. And when you strive to do this day by day by day, showing up as the best version of you, that is fulfilling your ultimate purpose.TheExceleratedLife.com
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“Because there is only one of you in all time, you were born with the responsibility of bringing that precious rarity to task, contributing the gem of your you-ness as purely as you can.” ~ From the Wisdom of Holiday Mathis,
The Gem Of Your You-ness
To live an Excelerated Life™, we embrace a number of ideals:
- Foundation – strengthen your standards
- Excelerating – moving forward while increasing your ability to be outstanding, first-rate, and exceptional
- Maintenance – care for your most valuable asset
We do this not for personal gain but for a larger purpose, Purpose with a capital P.
In the Excelerated Life™, we recognize two facets of purpose: Universal and unique. All of us have a common Universal purpose: to realize our potential and give our best in Service to the world.
And each of us has a unique purpose: to contribute our personal Service based on our unique combination of talents, skills, strengths, interests, and abilities.
I’ve said this many times and it bears repeating. You brought something with you when you came to this life that makes you uniquely suited to fulfill your purpose. No one else who has ever been born or who will ever be born can fulfill your purpose. If you don’t do it, it won’t get done.
Purpose X 3
OK, so we have a unique purpose and a Universal purpose. You could picture them as concentric circles, with your unique purpose sitting inside the Universal purpose circle. When they are aligned, you realize the Universal purpose as you live out your unique purpose in Service to the world.
But let’s not stop there. Brian Johnson at Optimize gives us a third level: Universal + Unique + Ultimate.
Brian says, “We all share the same Universal quest, best captured by Maslow’s line that ‘What one can be, one must be.’ The UNIVERSAL quest we’re ALL on? To express the best version of ourselves in service to our families, communities and world.
“Then we each have a Unique quest. The question that best captures this might be: ‘What must YOU be?!’ What roles are you being asked to play? How can you show up most powerfully within the constraints of your reality?
“This doesn’t mean we all need to go out and do fancy things the world knows about. In fact, for most of us, this WON’T be the case. And, that’s awesome.
“Then we get to the Ultimate quest (that also happens to be both Universal and Unique). What’s that? Well… ULTIMATELY, it’s ALL about showing up as the best version of ourselves right.this.second.”
We might call this Purpose X 3.
The Ultimate Purpose
Let’s turn to one of my favorite philosophers, Ralph Waldo Emerson, for another look at this Ultimate purpose idea.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy,” says Emerson. “It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
And the ultimate Ultimate purpose?
“To laugh often and much: To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Are you making a difference, even a small difference, even to one person, in the way you live? Are you living your best and giving your best in Service to the world?
But . . . It Isn’t All About You
Meaningful accomplishment, Excelerated Accomplishment™, has us reaching outside of ourselves. Success as much of the Western world sees it, is focused on outward signs – the athlete’s body, the big bank account, the fine home, the hot car, and so forth. And while these aren’t necessarily wrong or “bad”, they are not what we are aspiring to when we seek to live out our purpose, to be of Service to the world.
As Chad Cooper writes in this article: “The reality is for us to be truly fulfilled and not just have moments or periods of fleeting happiness, we cannot just be self-serving, we also need to be servant leading to be truly fulfilled.” [Cooper]
Lasting happiness and true fulfillment come not from the outward signs of success, but from a different way.
“When we can serve other people,” Cooper says, “we are not only able to see outside ourselves but we are able to see the beauty and good that brings us beyond ourselves. For anyone to have true fulfillment, we must continue to grow, we also must be willing to make it about more than just ourselves.” [Cooper]
“To make it about more than just ourselves” – that is Excelerated Accomplishment™.
Your Unique Purpose
In Okinawa, they call it ikigai (pronounced “icky guy”) and it has been identified by the Blue Zones Project as one reason that people live longer. Loosely translated, it means “why I get up in the morning”. Or “my purpose”.
As the old saying goes, “You are unique. Just like everyone else.” Thus, you have a unique purpose, just like everyone else. In “How To Be Of Service And Absolutely Make A Difference In The World“, Jane Bowen puts it this way: “How we choose to take action in the world is a large component of our fulfillment. We each have as much unique expression in our service as in everything else we do. It has the potential to reflect our talents, skills, personality — everything about us.” [Bowen]
And so we come to your own unique purpose. I believe that you and I come to this Life to do something unique and important. Unique in that only you can do your Job, the Job (with a capital J) that you are called to do. And by important, I don’t mean some grand achievement. A small role can have a far-reaching impact, a pebble can start an avalanche. But something that the world needs, which you and I can give.
Make Your Job Your Calling
In Authentic Happiness, Dr. Martin Seligman relates a story of visiting the hospital room of a dear friend who was lying in a coma. As he struggled with the situation, he watched an orderly come in, remove the bedpan, and then begin to study the pictures on the wall. As Seligman watched, the orderly removed some prints from a bag and began replacing some of the pictures and straightening others.
“May I ask what you are doing?” he asked the orderly.
“I’m an orderly,” the man replied. “But each week I bring in new pictures to replace the ones that are hanging here. You see, I’m responsible for the health of all these patients and I want to be sure that, when they wake up, they see beautiful things.”
Being an orderly was his job, what he did for pay, but it was also his calling, what he did to contribute to a better world.
An Action Plan
How do you decide what your calling is? Well, a calling isn’t something you decide, it’s something you discover. It is a process of discernment that can take some time. Here are some qualities of a calling:
Your job or your career may be your calling or may be transformed into a calling. Seligman gives this advice:
- Identify your signature strengths. You do that here. (It’s free but you have to register.)
- Choose work that allows you to use your signature strengths every day, or
- Re-craft your present job to draw on your signature strengths.
As you consider how to make your job your calling, keep these points in mind.
- A job is something you do to get paid, a calling is something you would do whether you got paid or not.
- A job is 9 – 5. A calling is 24/7.
- A job is what you do. A calling is who you are.
- A calling is what you have to give – the intersection where your gifts, skills, and strengths meet one of the world’s needs.
Your Purpose X 3
Your job could be your Job (capital J) or it could be something you do outside of work. But if you can, it will benefit you to either find a job in line with your calling or re-invent your current job to become your Job. When your job is also your Job, then you’ll do what you love and love what you do. [Amabile]
Your Job can become your own Purpose X 3. “The right job leverages your core competencies, things you do best and enjoy,“ writes Laura Vanderkam in 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. And “there is not necessarily a right way to work, but there is a right way for you.” [Vanderkam]
When you contribute your personal Service using your unique combination of talents, skills, strengths, interests, and abilities, whether as vocation or avocation, you fulfill your unique purpose. You are also fulfilling the Universal purpose by giving your you-ness in Service to the world. And when you strive to do this day by day by day, showing up as the best version of you, that is fulfilling your ultimate purpose. Voilà – Purpose X 3.
Live on purpose, universally, uniquely, and ultimately. That’s how you achieve Excelerated Accomplishment™. And that is embracing your Excelerated Life™!
If you’d like help discovering your purpose or getting more clarity, try the “Find Your Purpose” worksheet, one of the Tools For An Excelerated Life™.
Excelerated Accomplishment™ — achieving meaningful objectives — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.
Read more about the Excelerated Life™.
Amabile, Teresa M. “Motivating Creativity In Organizations: On Doing What You Love And Loving What You Do,” California Management Review 40:1 (fall 1997), 39-58.
Bowen, Jan L. “How To Be Of Service And Absolutely Make A Difference In The World.” Jan L. Bowen. Strategic Solutions Services, LLC, November 6, 2016. Web. December 4, 2021.
Cooper, Chad E. “The Importance Of Being In Service To Others For Your Own Success.” Thrive Global. Medium.com, March 27, 2017. Web. December 4, 2021.
Seligman, Ph.D., Martin E. P. Authentic Happiness. New York: Free Press, 2002.
Vanderkam, Laura. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. New York: Penquin Group, Inc., 2011.
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