The Purpose of Life
While my son was home for a few weeks in November, we watched a few movies as a family.
One night we were in the mood to watch something light, and so we selected “City Slickers,” starring Billy Crystal. If you have not seen the movie, Billy Crystal’s character Mitch was going through a midlife crisis, searching for meaning. For his 40th birthday, his two best friends booked a 2-week adventure vacation at a real-life dude ranch, during which they would join in a cattle drive. He was reluctant but eventually acquiesced.
During the cattle drive, Mitch found himself off the beaten trail rounding up some strays with the trail boss, Curly. After some small talk, Mitch and Curly eventually engaged in a philosophical discussion on the “secret of life,” which Curly nets as just one thing: “You stick to that and everything else don’t mean sh**.” When Mitch inquires as to what that one thing is, Curly replies, “That’s what you have to figure out.”
In our business of leadership development, we refer to this as creating a compelling vision at both the individual and organizational levels. Vision is necessary for sustainable performance and is fueled by a sense of purpose – not necessarily a specific destination, but a direction that is fueled by a sense of meaning and guiding values. But for me, that is not enough. It must also include a sense of interconnectedness – the sense that we are all connected, and that therefore part of my purpose must include the interdependence that exists between and among all of us.
I’ve come to realize that if my actions are to be sustainable for the whole, I must support my purpose with intentions. As we defined in a previous blog, an intention is something that elicits a feeling of joy and fulfillment and leads to inspired action; the feeling and the deeper “why” behind or underneath what we want to accomplish. An intention is different from a goal in that it is focused on the present moment and how we want to feel during the journey. Intentions are more holistic than goals in that they integrate mind, body, and soul. An intention offers us the opportunity to be our best at any given moment, and it is something we plan to do regardless of the outcome.
In that spirit, then, I intend to be present, kind, and helpful. I will respond, not react, and I will employ both/and thinking to ensure positive change for all. Today, that is my “one thing.”