Currently viewing the tag: "life’s purpose"


WashingtonMtRushmoreAnybody who knows me is aware of my voracious appetite for reading biographies. I especially love learning about the difficulties great people have faced, and overcome, on their journeys. Whether talking Confucius, Sir Issac Newton or Jesus Christ, I relish the fact that every life, big or small, has obstacles to surmount. Why do I appreciate a good tale of conquered summits? Because it helps me walk through my own cross-bearing; it reminds me that every challenge I face is a part of my history. What will become of my legacy as it reveals itself from the fog of the great unknown? That’s the most exciting thing about life as we live it—we just have no freakin’ idea.

When it comes to conquering the chaos of  uncertainty with poise, honor and nobility, I find no story more uplifting than General George Washington’s experience commanding the Continental Army during the American Revolution. If you do not know this story more than your faded recollections of high school history, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Joseph J. Ellis, His Excellency, George Washington. I read this book the year of its publication, 2004, on a whim, simply because I saw it in a bookstore and it spoke to me energetically, or called me over, so to speak.

This book could not have been more appropriately titled because excellence is the only word that truly does Washington justice. He was excellence incarnate. But more important is his story, his role in the American War of Independence, which is the perfect metaphor for what we all face at one time or another in our lives: Dire circumstances, on the verge of catastrophe, up against forces well beyond our capacity to handle, totally unprepared, ill-equipped, and without resources, yet through a sense of purpose, tenacity, grit, and some unexpected good luck, we can make it through, forging a whole new entity, nation or paradigm along the way. George Washington’s story is every person’s story who has ever tried to build, lead or change something in their lives. And like the General, if you can survive, you will probably succeed and thrive.

The GeneralHow did he do it? How did George Washington manage to keep afloat during such dismal and uncertain conditions? I will present to you here what I believe were Washington’s key characteristics, ones I think we can all benefit from when putting them into action during our own turmoil. The thing you must understand about what we discuss here is the general air of the time in 1775, when Washington had been appointed commander of the Continental Army. The British were the greatest Colonial power in the world, with a devastating navy. They were mega-wealthy—their colonies brought in vast sums of money, of which they used to finance their war machine. They had spent an entire century fighting (and beating) their neighbors and colonial rivals of Western Europe; they were experienced, tough and disciplined.

BattleOfVirginiaCapesWashington’s military, on the other hand, was comprised of amateurs—”the middling  sort”—as Ellis describes them. They were at  times undisciplined, unpaid and without supplies or clothing. Congress at times meddled where it shouldn’t have, and was often powerless to help—money, supplies and food were in severe shortage. Despite some early successes, the Continental Army had suffered severe setbacks in New York and New Jersey. To say the colonies, public and  military were riding low would be an understatement. To say General George Washington was in a bleak situation, a state of darkness, in which he could not be entirely certain of how events would unfold, would still only be touching the tip of the iceberg  as to what he must have been experiencing. But it all came to a head during the winter of 1777-1778, at Valley Forge, in Pennsylvania—where the Continental Army was holed-up, riding out the severe cold. The men were wracked by starvation, disease and malnutrition.

“To see Men without Cloathes to cover their nakedness, without Blankets to lay on, without Shoes…is a mark of Patience and obedience can scarce be paralel’d.” ~ General George Washington

As Ellis describes it: “Most of the horses died from starvation or exposure, and their decaying carcasses filled the air with a stench that joined with the blood in the snow to create sensory scenes that Washington never forgot.”

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Keeping this dreadful scenario in mind, and perhaps even relating to your own personal Valley Forges, let’s now take a look at what made Washington the avatar of excellence:

  • He had colossal staying power — this is the hardest thing for people to keep in mind. Just stick it out—time really is on the side of those who can tough out the storm. Washington rode out six long years of war—that’s no home, no family, no rest, no peace, no quiet, no partying for 72 months! Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Some people get thrown if they have a few bad weeks. If you want to succeed at any life change or endeavor, sticking out the tough (and sometimes all-out-freakin’-abysmal) times is tantamount to victory. Tides turn over time, and you can be assured that your down-slide will turn to an upswing sooner or later. Amazing things happen to those patient enough to wait; loss is only guaranteed if you throw in the towel. Stick it out like a Continental.

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  • He did not let his inexperience or “not knowingness” distort his mission — Up to the time of his appointment, George Washington never commanded a large conventional army. He only knew what he had learned from military books, and by observing British commanders under whom he had served as a young man, but he did not let this cloud his sense of purpose (dharma), or keep him from going full force into the unknown. Too many of us cower under the nightmares we create in our minds over not being experienced, talented, smart, young, blessed or lucky enough to make the grade. You are never going to be one hundred percent ready to take any leap—heck, you might just find yourself in utter chaos brought about by nature itself: sink or swim time. While being prepared for what you can anticipate is one of my mantras, carrying on, despite your greenness, will take you to heights unanticipated. So fight through fear, and focus forward—it’s the only way to fly, anyhow.
  • Battle_of_PrincetonHe held steadfast through several demoralizing defeats — With his troops battered and beaten, without clothes or shoes, their Marches of Patience “traced by the Blood from their feet,” the General pushed onward, with a certainty that is needed to overcome any monumental obstacle. Certainty in this case is not of how things will unfold, but of the laser-focus discipline necessary to complete one’s destiny. We have all had to withstand demoralizing times, but when these come one after another, it takes real strength of will to maintain one’s sense of purpose. That is why I say it is important to be in-tune with one’s dharma or life’s purpose, because this is what drives us through the blizzard, battered and bloodied, with or without shoes. When our strength of purpose is greater than outward conditions, we conquer.
  • He was bold, creative and unorthodox — Washington did what was needed at all times of dismal uncertainty, and he did things differently. His bold moves completely perplexed the British army who thought they had the “old fox” trapped. He made the most of what he had, which was very little by way of supplies, artillery and even food. And while most armies would rest after battle, Washington had his moving, bringing them to safety, while their opponents slept. When we are in our own turmoil, nothing is more powerful than movement, action, and novelty. The harshest of times are what lead to innovation and new ways of doing things. If necessity is the mother of invention, then chaos is the father of efficiency. We so often learn to do things in a better way when we have just got to do something, anything, fast. Take your own dire circumstances as an opportunity to try new things, especially if you have lost money, resources or people, and you have got nothing much else left to lose. Get crazy; get creative—you will be surprised at what you come up with.

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  • He dealt with the worst conditions, and learned from them — Nobody has had worse conditions than the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Shortages of men, shoes, shirts, blankets, and gunpowder would have crippled most men into impotency, but not Washington who powered on. As Ellis put it, “The lesson Washington drew from that experience, learned not from books but from struggling on a day-to-day basis, was that the meaning of the Revolution…had been transformed during the course of the war.” Persistence, certainty, and tenacity are crucial elements during the toughest of times, but most important is what you learn from moment-to-moment. Too many of us keep our blinders on during tough times, when in fact our eyes should be the most open. What did you learn from each of your experiences? What was the upside to the downside, and vice versa? What can you be grateful for each day? Write it down, don’t mind-eff it—every day, write down and meditate on what you are grateful for. Focus on that.
  • WashingtonHe stayed true to his principles — Washington was no pushover. He loved and respected his men, for sure, as his many letters advocating on their behalf showed how deep his admiration. But make no mistake about it, the General stayed true to his position as leader and commander; he demanded discipline. He relieved officers of their duty if they showed dullness, cowardice or insubordination of any sort; he would string up deserters, and order “one hundred lashes to their bare backs for minor infractions.” Washington was driven by a profound purpose, and he knew his role within the dynamic. Know your role, and play it out to the fullest, to the best of your abilities, and without looking for reward or recognition. Doing things in this way will allow you to complete your mission without getting side-tracked by low-priority distractions or irrational emotions.
  • He did not attach to his perspective — Perspectives are relative, and attaching too firmly to any one closes you off to greater possibilities. Washington was generally firm in his convictions, but he was also able to let go, and in so doing, allowed his cause to unfold into its ultimate victory. Despite his stubbornness in wishing to attack the British again in New York, he relinquished to the French plan to attack in Virginia, where the French fleet was prepared to drive the British out of Chesapeake Bay. Washington’s giving in to a different perspective and path led to the decisive victory in the war. We simply cannot know everything, and more often than not, it is the unknown that holds the final solution, not the known, so let go when time calls for it (you will feel it intuitively). The exciting mysteries of life unfold in the space of the unknown. Trust in the process. Trust in the universal forces of destiny, and watch your cause manifest even better than how you envisioned it. This is a universal truth illustrated beautifully by Washington’s history in the war.

cornwallisAs I said, we can look to General George Washington not only as the father of America, but as an avatar on how to handle our own internal wars, and our external Valley Forges. By practicing discipline, confidence, tenacity, persistence, certainty, creativity and flexibility, we too can overcome the most dismal of circumstances, and create the change we have been working toward. Whether we are talking financial struggles, relationship struggles, challenges with children, or complete life-makeovers, just remain mindful of the traits Washington (and the entire Continental Army) exhibited during the Revolutionary War. We all must enter battles, survive wars, and carry crosses. How we come out on the other side depends directly on how we commit to walking through them. Be like the General and do it with purpose and conviction, and watch your destiny evolve in excellence.


illuminatedtree-570x356 (Copy) You have heard me talk about it over and over—tune into your dharma, find your purpose, connect all your endeavors to your life’s mission. I preach it because I am certain of its universality—knowing and carrying out your life’s purpose will bring you the greatest fulfillment, while serving humanity and the universal dharma at the same time. If you thought my discourse has been purely spiritual mumbo-jumbo, well think again, because a recent study suggests that having a purpose in life actually increases longevity. That’s right—living to fulfill a mission gives more life. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

The study, published in Psychological Science, looked at data from over 6000 participants collected in the longitudinal Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) sample, and found that people who self-reported “purpose” to their lives lived longer than their counterparts during the 14 years after the baseline assessment, even when controlling for other markers of psychological and affective well-being.

Said lead study author Patrick Hill of Carleton University in Canada:

master-class-maya-angelou-2-600x411 (Copy)“Our findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose,” says Hill. “So the earlier someone comes to a direction for life, the earlier these protective effects may be able to occur.”

Wow! Moreover, longevity benefits were not dependent on age, how long participants lived during the follow-up period, or whether they had retired from the workforce. Simply put: having a life’s purpose “appears to buffer against mortality risk across the adult years.”

But even so, researchers were surprised by the results: “These findings suggest that there’s something unique about finding a purpose that seems to be leading to greater longevity,” said Hill.

The longevity benefits of purpose in life held even after other indicators of psychological well-being, such as positive relations and positive emotions, were taken into account.

Mandela at 90Well I am not surprised; as I said, it makes sense. When living ‘on purpose,’ we have a reason to get up and go every morning, afternoon, and evening. This must have an effect on our physiology—rarely do body and mind act independently. Just think of stories we hear of people exhibiting super-human strength to save a loved one who’s in danger; or even the somewhat-known statistics showing that many people die shortly following retirement. Once the purpose goes, so often does the will to live.

Purpose gives meaning, and meaning drives us to carry on, so again, to me, these new results are not surprising in the slightest. I will keep pushing people to find their purpose in life—we all have one, on display or latent, I believe we all have a reason for existing in this lifetime. So find it and live it…and you might find that life gives you just the right time to accomplish your mission. If you need help tapping into your purpose—contact me; I have fool-proof methods for uncovering your dharma. And if you are fully attuned to your life’s purpose now—great, keep moving in the direction of its accomplishment, and you will find your fulfillment complete as well.


new-years-resolutionsAs we say goodbye to the first month of 2014, most of you who have made New Year’s resolutions have already abandoned the effort. In fact, nearly 80% of all people making New Year’s resolutions quit by the end of January. I believe this abandonment is due to four specific failures that people make when setting their New Year resolution, and which I have outlined here. But like most people, I too start my year, every year, by setting intentions (not resolutions, because even though I think there are some pretty good New Years resolutions one can focus on, I believe that intentions—what you would love to accomplish, as opposed to what you want to give up—are simply more powerful) which I plan to concentrate on throughout the year. I can tell you that not only do I maintain my commitment over the entire year, but I accomplish a high percentage of those things I set out to do. In this post I will describe how I set my intentions, and how I address them throughout the year; and I will also discuss the actions and behaviors that keep me on purpose and completing most of my intentions and goals in a given year. It is not too late to start your year right. Just follow what I outline here and you will be surprised at what you will accomplish in 2014.

To begin with, when setting my New Year’s intentions, I make sure that everything I set out to accomplish is aligned with my dharma—or my life’s purpose. I realize that not everyone is in-tune with their dharma, or have a deep understanding of what their life’s purpose is, but I believe this is available to anybody who is willing to take the effort to uncover it. I have methods of which I am certain can help anybody uncover their life’s purpose, so if you are committed to tuning-into yours, please contact me. I work with clients regularly to help them discover their divine missions in life. But I can tell you that I started this New Year’s ritual of setting my intentions well before I myself was tuned-into my dharma. So you can get the ball rolling now, even in the absence of this understanding. The important thing is to keep your goals or intentions realistic. Unrealistic goals will only lead to frustration and abandonment. Saying that, however, if you are connected to your life’s purpose, then be sure to align your every intention with this in mind.

new years resolutionNext I focus on every aspect of life, and categorize my intentions as such. The seven aspects of life are physical, mental, spiritual, social, financial, professional and familial. I write down exactly what I would love in each one of these areas. I then write down everything I would love to accomplish in each life category. For example, every year I read or take courses that equal up to thirty books. I have an idea of what I would love to learn through the knowledge of my dharma, and so when focusing on that, it guides me to the books and courses which I will tackle in any given year. It would be highly unrealistic of me to set an intention of reading forty books in a year. It might be possible…just rather unlikely, so I don’t set my sights that high. I think setting the intention of twelve to twenty books to read is doable. But I don’t just say, “I will read 12-20 books this year.” I actually write down the titles of the books I know I will wish to tackle. Sometimes I don’t read every single book on my list, but I can tell you that I mostly do.

Another example would be that, in my physical life, I may wish to learn a new form of physical activity, like I did in 2011: I wanted to start learning and practicing martial arts, so in that year I wrote down that I would love to start a martial arts program…and I did! But I also write down how many days a week I plan to exercise, which days they will most likely be, and what types of exercise (yoga, weight training, or simply daily stretching) I will do on which given day. Yes I will even set the length of the workouts, because I am quite certain that that kind of detail is of the utmost importance.

Good New Years ResolutionsIn the family section, I may want to teach one of my children how to swim—and on to the list it goes. I may wish to focus on saving a certain percentage of my income—and on to the financial list it goes. I may want to dedicate a certain amount of time to social media—I don’t leave this to chance or chaos; instead I allot a certain amount of time/energy and then stick to it. You see, God is in the details, as they say, and so any detail you leave out is a detail that will be determined by an outside force…or chaos, if you will. I do this in every area until I have a solid list of doable goals set by my intention to accomplish them.

Once finished with my lists, I print them on to sheets of paper, which I carry around in my briefcase. And here is the kicker—the thing that you MUST do in order to make sure you will complete your intentions: you must read the list at least once per week, and often even more. Yes! This one simple action is the difference, I believe, between accomplishing what you set out to do in January, and abandonment, which is the norm for most people as I’ve already pointed out. You see, by reading and rereading every week, you are reminded repeatedly of what you would love to accomplish; and even if you don’t get to any particular intention by the final months of the year, you will still have a few months to get it going, as long as you remind yourself to do so. That is exactly what I did in 2011, and by October of that year, I was enrolled in a martial arts program, because every month, I reread my intentions, and I would say, “Oh yeah, better get on that—the year is coming to an end.”

running a non profitSo you may have a dream of running a nonprofit organization or nonprofit website, or maybe you would like to start a small business. You may know that to accomplish either, you will have to pick up information on starting a non profit or small business. Great! By reading and rereading this intention throughout the year, you will be more likely to take that first step toward accomplishing these goals.

Do I accomplish everything on my list? No, never! Duh, who cares…I consistently complete more than 75% of what I intention in any given year. And for the things that I don’t get to…well they simply go on next year’s list. Okay there are a few things that, year after year, get pushed aside. Guess what? Those are probably false intentions anyway, ones not really aligned with your dharma. Great! You can thus abandon them completely (or just keep them on the list; the end result will be the same). I assure you, however, that the goals and intentions which ARE aligned with your dharma will give you no trouble at all to start and complete, because that is how all humans are wired: we do the things that bring us closest to fulfilling our values.

One other practice I do every New Year’s Eve is to write down everything I have accomplished during the year, as well as everything I am grateful for which I had experienced throughout the year. Whether pleasureful or painful, I give thanks to the universe for the experience, knowing full well that our challenges are what lead to our greatest growth and expansion. Why wouldn’t I be thankful for that? I also print out this list and read it along with my intentions every week (every day, three days, or whatever time frame you choose), so that I remember what I accomplished the year before, which simply acts as another driver for me to get started on my listed intentions. This Gratitude List acts as a confidence builder, because I know that not only did I keep my commitments, but that I also overcame some real obstacles to get there.

new years eve resolutionsI can almost guarantee that if you take up this practice I have shared with you, and you start today, you will be amazed at what you end up accomplishing this year. Yes, things will be that much clearer and ‘on purpose’ if you connect your goals and intentions to your dharma (and as I said you can contact me when you are ready to uncover it). But get started on what I’ve outlined here, and do so today, even if you do not fully know your divine mission. I promise that this little exercise will have your head spinning by how much you accomplish in any given year. I have done it myself, faithfully, for the last fourteen years, and I can say with confidence that I would not be who I am today without this yearly habit. Try it, do it as I describe here, and you will see exactly what I mean. Have fun creating the new you. And Happy New Year!

Have you ever heard that you need to balance your work and personal life? In the world of separation, perhaps, that may be true, as balance is the true nature of all things; but in an integrated world, work and life are often the same.

No doubt that not everyone values their work above all else. Some don’t even have it in their top three priorities or highest values, so what the heck am I talking about? Well whether your work is your life, or you merely work to live, a psychic connection to your vocation can be rewarding, as it can help you gain a new appreciation for each dynamic responsible for the complete synthesis of your life.

When you do what you love; when your work is a part of your life’s mission, then it isn’t work at all—it’s just life. Can you imagine Isaac Newton needing some downtime? “Gone fishin’” posted on his office door at Cambridge? Or Albert Einstein needing a break to go “find himself”? Puh-leeze! No doubt, stepping away from your work is periodically necessary to maintain mental balance, as well as to keep the creative juices flowing; but seeing work as a drag, or living for the weekend, or counting the months till your 65th birthday, and its ensuing retirement, is definitely not living your life’s purpose through your work.

Listen, sometimes people just have to survive, and that’s what work is for them. And in these cases, of course, a balance between work and personal life must exist. However, I don’t think anybody in this mind-frame needs reminding. No, the advice to seek balance is usually left for people who are working hard, because it is either a part of their life’s mission, or they have an end in mind, and the advisors just can’t relate to that. But even so, for these people, an occasional stepping away will help them accomplish more, as the break will surely allow their brains and bodies to recharge. However, when one’s work and life’s purpose are properly aligned, then it really is misguided to try and change that.

But how about for people whose life’s purpose is not connected to their work? Well, I think for these people it is still important to see how their work allows them to live more fully. For instance, one might be dedicated to raising a beautiful, healthy and fulfilled family. Their mission might include the activities they do with their children, the things they teach them, and the experiences which they expose them to, and so on. What a beautiful life’s purpose that is!

It would be a shame to not see how one’s work actually allows for this dynamic to unfold. When we spend time resenting our work, and fail to see the interconnectedness between it and our personal life, then we block the channels to our own fulfillment. This mental dissatisfaction can lead to an incomplete awareness of the magnificence of our existence. But nothing is ever out of order.

Some people feel that when their job isn’t their life’s purpose that somehow things are not right. That’s why it’s important to be aligned with what your life’s purpose is. Don’t try to force what you think it should be. You know deep down inside, because your life’s purpose is what you love. It’s what you do every day that nobody needs to remind you of, or motivate you to do.

So again, by connecting to how your work allows you to carry out that purpose is the most empowering thing you can do in this regard. When you view things in this manner, you won’t feel the need to create balance. Balance is only needed when the misperception of imbalance exists, and this will be pervasive if you can’t see the divine connection among all your roles in your complete life; in other words, seeing the whole and not just the fragmented parts we label as duties.

So finding a balance between your work and personal life is somewhat of a fallacy, since different people have different relationships to their work. For those whose work is their life’s purpose—then live it, baby; but, of course, take the occasional break to recharge your creative batteries. For those working solely to reach a particular goal, like making your first million, then yeah, being aware of, and proactively focusing on, balance may end up saving your life. But for those of you that work simply to live, so that you may carry out your true life’s purpose, then seeing how that work allows the totality of your life to be expressed is essential…and if you can do that, you might find that’s all the balance you need.

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