You don’t find your purpose, you build it (HBR)

Mark Twain famously said:

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Harvard Business Review recently published an article about this ‘finding out why’. It argues that the purpose of your life isn’t something you find but rather something you build: it might not be just one thing and it might change during your lifetime.

Inner Leadership agrees — partly.

We believe that the way we put our purpose into practice can certainly change over time, just as our understanding of our purpose can change. But the underlying purpose itself is probably fixed and would probably have been the same if we were born 100 or 1,000 years ago. It’s the ways we understand our purpose and the ways we put it into practice that can change, depending on the world we happen to have been born into.

For example, if your purpose was to heal people then today you might choose to become a doctor, a dentist, a nurse, a surgeon, a chiropractor, a therapist, and so on. And as your career progressed you might then feel yourself drawn to specialise in other areas. If you had been born a thousand years ago these options would not have been available to you, but your purpose could have been exactly the same.

A thousand years from now, who knows what options might be possible?

So the best way to find your purpose today is to start somewhere: find something you feel drawn towards, and then learn and improve as you go forward. Notice what inspires you and move towards that.

Inner Leadership gives you the tools to do this: to find your best understanding of your purpose today and find options to put that into practice. This will bring you more energy and enthusiasm. And you can repeat the process as your understanding deepens.

Viktor Frankl called our search for purpose and meaning our “highest calling.” Scientists have discovered that living a purposeful life changes our genesAnd when we know our purpose it allows us to be flexible in a time of change

All of which helps to make us antifragile.

Are you building your life purpose? Would you like to begin?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also need to practice.)

Photo By Jolene Bertoldi via

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