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How often do you reflect upon why you are doing what you are doing?

Today is February 23 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you reflect upon why you are doing what you are doing?” In a January 25, 1970, sermon published by “The Riverside Church” of New York City. Minister Ernest T. Campbell said “Our times call not for diction but for action. It has been said that the two most important days of a man’s life are the day on which he was born and the day on which he discovers why he was born.” This quote is often wrongly attributed to Mark Twain.

Four years later, American author, historian, and broadcaster Studs Terkel published Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do and echoed similar sentiment when he wrote “I think most of us are looking for a calling, not a job. Most of us, like the assembly-line worker, have jobs that are too small for our spirit. Jobs are not big enough for people.”

Today’s reflection involves reconciling the difference between Campbell’s comment on finding out why you were born with Terkel’s thought that most people have jobs too small for their spirit. To reconcile the differences ask yourself which of the following categories you feel as though best describes your current life situation:

  • I understand why I was born and my job is in alignment with my life purpose.

  • I understand why I was born but my job is too small for my spirit; yet I am not changing my current situation because my job provides money and I accept that my job and purpose are two different aspects of my life.

  • I understand why I was born but my job is too small for my spirit; but I am exploring job opportunities more in alignment with my life purpose.

  • Understanding my life purpose continues to be a daily pursuit but one that I am enjoying.

Realize any answer is fine as there is no right or wrong answer here. If your job and purpose align that’s wonderful. If you working at a job too small for your spirit and maintain an active pursuit of other more fulfilling opportunities that is fine too. The key is to reflect upon where you are so you can answer the question “why are you doing what you are doing?” Those unable to ask or answer such a question may have difficulty leveraging their mind, body, and spirit to navigate the chaos.

History is filled with examples of aligning purpose with work. The Great Fire of London offers one such lesson. After the Great Fire of London in 1666, Sir Christopher Michael Wren, one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history, had the responsibility for rebuilding 52 churches, including his masterpiece, St. Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral was built in a relative short time span: its first stone was laid on June 21, 1675, and the building was completed in 1711. Legend has it that Wren would often visit the construction site.

During one of his visits Wren came across three stonecutters. Each was busy cutting a block of stone. Interested to find out what they were working on, he asked the first stonecutter what he was doing. “I am cutting a stone!” Still no wiser, Wren turned to the second stonecutter and asked him what he was doing. “I am cutting this block of stone to make sure that it is square, and its dimensions are uniform, so that it will fit exactly in its place in a wall.”

A bit closer to finding out what the stonecutters were working on but still unclear, Wren turned to the third stonecutter. He seemed to be the happiest of the three and when asked what he was doing, replied: “I am helping to build a great cathedral.” This stone mason clearly understood why he was doing what he was doing. Both Wren and the third stone mason understood that they were part of something greater than themselves. They were experiencing the richness of life. This richness allows one to develop their self, which is a never-ending process throughout life.

As William Jennings Bryan once wrote "Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved." To help you achieve your destiny consider completing the following three step exercise called “A.I.M. for Your Purpose:” To complete this exercise you will need to answer three questions using the A.I.M. acronym for (Action, Individual and Mission).

1. What Action do you want to take?

2. What Individuals do you want to help?

3. What Mission do you want to accomplish?

Once completed post this exercise somewhere you will see it each day. And yes, you can have more than one AIM!

  • Why are you doing what you are doing?

  • How often do you remind yourself that ‘destiny is a matter of choice?’

  • How often do you remind yourself that destiny is to be achieved?

  • What can you do today to help you navigate the chaos and move one step closer to achieving your destiny?

  • Do you surround yourself with people who support you in your pursuit of purpose?


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