Purpose is the difference between a pipe dream and a goal worth all the sacrifice it will take to get it. Purpose is the difference between your ego telling you to do something and God telling you to do it. Purpose is the difference between waiting around for your big break and understanding what it actually takes to make you a champion. Each of us was put here with a unique and specific purpose, and that purpose will drive us toward our goal if we can determine what it is.
For most people, the answer comes to mind right away. But if you're having trouble, my guess is that it's because your purpose is being drowned by the sound of the critics in the back of your mind, telling you that you're too tall or too short or that you don't have the background or the training or the pedigree to do what you were made to do. Let me be the first to say that if you were made to do something, none of those qualifications matter. I'm a prime example of this.
Have you seen the popular movie Rudy, about the Notre Dame football player Rudy Ruettiger? It's an amazing story and an another perfect example of what I'm talking about. Rudy was told he was too small to play football, that he was not smart enough, that he'd never make it on the team. At first glance, you might say Rudy's critics were right. He was too small to play football. He was only five foot six, nearly a foot shorter than some of his teammates, and only 165 pounds. But Rudy wasn't willing to accept this as his final answer. He knew his purpose was to play Notre Dame football.
So he chipped away at his weaknesses. Little by little. One by one. He put in the work—more work than most of his teammates—and finally earned his way onto the field. He was never going to be the best player. But that didn't matter. Nothing was going to stop Rudy from achieving his goal. Not his critics, not his brothers, not his dad, not even his coach.
Rudy's goal wasn't to become the greatest player of all time. His goal was to prove to himself that with heart and dedication, you can really achieve anything you set out to do. And Rudy proved to all of us that when you know your purpose, there are no limits to what the human spirit can achieve.
Sometimes our purpose is obvious. Michael Phelps was built to be a swimmer. Michael Jordan was built to be a basketball player. Sometimes our purpose is less obvious. Was I built to be an ice skater? Not necessarily. But I wasn't willing to give up. And neither was Rudy. What we shared was a deep knowledge that nothing could get in the way of us achieving our purpose on this planet. If you know your purpose, nothing can stop you, either.
If you don't know your purpose, here are some questions to ask yourself. What do you love to do? When are you happiest, most excited, and most engaged in what you're doing? What are you gifted to do? And how can you turn that into something meaningful for your life and for the world?
Some people argue that they don't have a gift or that the only thing they love to do is sit around and hang out with their friends. My pushback to them is always to dig a little deeper.
Are you naturally good at telling and understanding stories? Pay attention to that. Are you seven feet tall? That's significant. Are you naturally good with children? That's a gift. Lean into it. If we can stop for a moment and be quiet, we can hear through the noise of the world and take stock of our natural gifts and capabilities. There, we find our great purpose.
TRY SOMETHING NEW
Maybe you haven't discovered your unique purpose yet. Or maybe you're really close, but you need to make the smallest shift to the right or to the left. Maybe your purpose is down a completely different path than the one you've been walking, or maybe it's right in front of you or behind you and you just need a new way to look at it.
If what you have been doing isn't working or isn't working as well as you want it to, or if you're just not having fun, consider the option that it might be time to try something new.
My friend Sterling Ball (you may know him if you've purchased his Ernie Ball guitar strings) is a legendary figure in the music world—an award-winning bass designer, industry leader, and accomplished bass player who performs with his friends Albert Lee, Steve Lukather, and Steve Morse. If you're a guitar player, you know who this man is because his reputation precedes him.
But despite Sterling's obvious success in the world of music, there came a point when he realized there was something else he wanted to do that had nothing to do with music. It was something with which he had very little experience but something he was passionate about. He wanted to enter the world of competition barbecue.
As a newcomer to the industry, he had a lack of experience going against him. But he did his research. And he knew the world of barbecue was massively underserved. In fact, he had two things to bring to the table that he knew were missing. One, he could apply his marketing skills to an industry that wasn't utilizing broad marketing. Two, he saw that he could leverage his passion for cooking in a unique way to an industry that needed more innovation.
To try something new, we have to be willing to check our egos at the door. We have to move out from under what is comfortable and be willing to take the risk of being bad at something, or making fools of ourselves, or letting people ask those questions like, "Barbecue? Why barbecue?" When they ask that, we can say, "Because it's fun!"
This excerpt ends on page 19 of the hardcover edition.