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Got Purpose?

How to Fine-Tune Yours by Helping Someone Find (and Fund) Theirs

Purpose. Company taglines publicize it. Philanthropic organizations promote it. Best-selling authors profit from it. However, most adults have tremendous difficulty uncovering theirs (although it’s relatively easy to spot in others). Why? Because purpose can bring fear and anguish into our lives when we’re unsure or indifferent about our life assignment. And this provides cover for us to hide behind a job, title, or role (mother, father, volunteer, etc.). Yes, it can be tied to a career path, but a life’s calling is usually bigger and broader than one’s occupation or money-making abilities. Simply put, what happens to an employee when a firing or retiring takes place — does purpose end? Of course not. That’s why tying purpose to a role or job is so dangerous, and truthfully, quite reckless in the grand scheme of things.

Here’s what I know about purpose as an author, public speaker, and self-proclaimed “Momma’s boy.” (My mother Laura, aka Ma Dukes, would often refer to me as Huckleberry Finn since I rarely stayed inside the confines of our impoverished neighborhood. I had people to meet, places to go, and predicaments to overcome.) A life assignment is usually tied to one’s innate gifts, realized potential, and difference-maker spirit. In that order. Anecdotally, all three are intricately connected, I believe, to that recurring dream — not a trauma-based nightmare — in childhood, adolescence, or even one’s young adult years to solve a customized, purpose-puzzle mandate. In the book of Genesis, Joseph had a dream and a destiny, but he had to develop the discipline (which was not revealed to him for obvious reasons) to carry out his life assignment. It took 13 years of discipline before his dream at age 17 caught up with his 30-year-old destiny. Between the ages of 12 and 14, I had this recurring dream growing up in abject poverty.  Our housing project, Sullivant Gardens, in the 1950s and 1960s, from what I was told, at one time had a garden outside each apartment. By the time I was born in the 1970s, only dirt and weeds remained. In my dream, I would dig deep into the soil, discovering more and more coins with each hand scoop of dirt. These “knowledge coins” or “currency tokens” would then be given to others to escape the harsh world of poverty’s plight. I can still see the smiles of relief on their faces; they were also incredibly grateful. (Purpose-guided dreams are substantiated by Dr. Patrick McNamara, an author and Associate Professor of Neurology at Boston University School of Medicine.)

In closing, the pieces to my purpose-puzzle mandate meant that I, too, would need a steady diet of discipline, a dirty but nutrient-rich process, before my dream caught up with my destiny. At the age of 28, the Lawrence Funderburke Youth Organization (LFYO) was launched. But the seed of purpose was planted in my subconscious at age 12, and likely even younger. How about your life’s calling? What dream of purpose did you have growing up in childhood? Why are you wholeheartedly embracing or purposely avoiding it? Using a basketball analogy, life’s purpose is akin to a shot clock. Make good on the possession or lose the opportunity to score. It’s your call. And as long as you have air in your purpose basketball, you can bounce back from setbacks throughout every quarter of life. Here’s my assist to you. Now, pass it forward by helping someone else find and fund theirs.

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