Determining your Purpose

Determining your Purpose

Determining one’s purpose in life is key in defining Self.

Defining self is part of building Self-differentiation, the “keys to the kingdom” according to Edwin Friedman, leading global Leadership Development consultant who sadly passed away in 2006.

Okay you may say, “how do I determine my purpose?”

I have three questions from different angles for you to consider in beginning to determine your purpose.

Before we begin, take your time in finding your answers to the questions. As a suggestion, you might consider writing each question down as a heading on a separate page, and when in a quiet and comfortable space, verbalize, draw, and/or write down your answers.

Here are the three questions:

1. “What have been your peak experiences?”

To assist with this, here are some associated questions to ask yourself:
“when did I feel most alive?”; “what was it about these experiences that made me feel so alive?”
“when did I feel I was my best self?”; “what has been my greatest personal accomplishment?” “Why was this my greatest personal accomplishment?”


2. “What has been your greatest suffering?”

Associated questions: “what happened?”; “How did you feel?”; “What was the impact on you?”; “What did
you tell yourself about this suffering?”; “What, if anything, would you have wanted to do differently?”


3. Imagine you have passed on from this world.
What do you want your best friend to say to the audience at your Eulogy?

Imagine the audience includes family members, friends, colleagues, significant acquaintances and even some strangers you have touched in a meaningful way.


Some Useful Tips

Your purpose statement is best structured in 1-2 sentences maximum. This makes it both easy to remember and articulate to others. Sharing your purpose with others assists your purpose ‘come alive’ in your own life.

A purpose statement benefits from being aspirational in nature. You want to feel immense pride in living into your purpose.

Consider adding to your purpose statement “for the world”, or, “in every interaction”, “on the planet” etc. This assists us recognize our value to the world, no matter how small we think we are, we think our purpose is. I remind myself of the great American psychologist William James who said: “I act as if what I do matters.”

Finally, consider enlisting the support of a trusted ‘elder’ to ask you the questions above and explore your answers by asking connected and deeper questions.

A trusted elder would be someone you admire, trust, consider wise, is patient, non-judgmental and has a clear sense of who they are. My colleague at INSPIRE CANADA Dr. Mark Jones, asked me questions to explore the deeper currents under my answers to the questions presented here.

Sit with your answers for some time. Mull your answers over and draft a 1-2 sentence purpose statement. Keep fine-tuning. During the process something will ‘stand out’ for you. Bring your attention to this and play with it.

It took me several iterations to determine my purpose and create a succinct statement:

“My purpose is to increase trust levels in the world, by demonstrating courage and kindness to myself and others, in every interaction.”

This is unique to me and has tremendous impact for me. It is my purpose.

I believe defining our purpose is one of the keys to building Self-Differentiation, “the keys to leadership.”

With this in mind, myself and my colleagues Jeff and Mark are available to assist you begin defining your purpose. We offer a 45min private call without charge or suggestion to remain in contact with you afterward, to anyone interested. This is a one-time call and will be offered until March 31st 2018.

Simply email and I will forward your email to the person you would like to connect with.



Michael is a business consultant who provides people development and change initiatives across Canada, while also assisting organizations in the US and Australia. In witnessing as a senior leader, a large highly successful company stumble and fall through an absence of trust, he committed himself to supporting organizations create a different outcome. Michael as a leader demonstrated the miss-steps he witnessed beforehand; appearing invulnerable, withholding thoughts and feelings, story-making, and reactivity. Recognizing this in himself, he increased his personal development efforts and continually re-commits to his purpose: “to create trust in the world, through demonstrating courage and kindness to myself and others, in every interaction.” Having recently completed a Masters degree in Leadership & Organisation Development in Seattle, US (Leadership Institute of Seattle, (LIOS)) Michael compliments his business experience with academic study in the methodologies for successful organizational change and people development. He is currently studying Lean process improvement and works his spiritual practice for “development at depth”.