Nine years ago I left a beautiful mountain home to live in a city where my wife Karin had the opportunity to lead an innovative charter school community.
Each of us went through a dark night of the soul experience, she in an impossibly demanding administrative job that was killing her by the day and me, with no friends, no job or contract, no community. I was suffering both a professional identity crisis on one level and something even deeper. I descended into a pit devoid of a clear sense of purpose; not at all sure of what was coming next in my life and livelihood. I’d participated and leaded in some of the great causes of the day, had been a passionate college teacher, a counselor, leadership trainer and organizational consultant, had engaged with and helped thousands. Suddenly I was at a crossroads where I felt incapable of helping myself. I was depressed.
I began to go on long walks in the country outside the city. In my turmoil and struggle I remembered a recording of a story a friend I’d met at a men’s gathering had sent me years before. Something told me I needed to listen to it. Robert Bly the poet, James Hillman the Jungian analyst and Michael Meade, the psychologist and storyteller framed a mythical story about a man that needed to fall to the bottom of the sea to recover his inner treasure and strength. Something in that story resonated with me and I began to feel a release of the dread and fear that had me in its grip. I realized the only way out was to go through these contracted feelings, not resist, avoid or try to go around them. Truly, as Carl Jung had first said, “what we resist persists.” I remember adopting the phrase, “this really sucks, but I welcome it!”
It seems almost paradoxical, doesn’t it? The more I let go and surrendered to the experience I was having, the more these feelings began to dissipate and dissolve. I became hopeful again.
Not long after that I was asked to join the team of a well-known organization seeking to acquire private lands for one of the biggest regional parks in the greater metropolitan area. My skills, contacts and presence helped to secure millions of dollars and a successful acquisition. I had new friends, new community and meaningful work. Certainly that was a win for all. My biggest win though was the inside job that had occurred when I let go and allowed myself to feel and be with my own experience. The victory for me was nothing less than a reunion of myself with myself and the feeling of hope and wholeness that came as its own reward.
And, when I allowed myself to listen there really was that still small voice that came through with this.
I am here to enjoy myself, enjoy whom I’m with and to make a big difference in people’s lives.
To tell you the truth, I had not been looking for a purpose statement, but there it was! It seemed almost too simple. Not a new professional identity but more of a calling to a more expanded version of myself. And you know, it still works for me all these years later as I’ve pursued a number of businesses, enterprises and projects with partners and people.
Maybe having a purpose statement is not so important for you. I can only speak for me….when I listen to me!
You can listen to more about my own quest to kindle and rekindle my passions and sense of purpose in recorded interviews with me and Chris Attwood, co-author of the still best-selling book, The Passion Test, Jack Canfield, now a success guru with 150 million of his books in the world, along with Neal Donald Walsch author of Conversations With God and a new book out now. Also Dan Millman, author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior and several other men looking for greater meaning in life while helping others do the same.
This groundbreaking event called The Power of Purpose Tele-summit for Men is still available by simply registering for free and picking from any of the 12 interviews you’d like to listen to, each about an hour in length. I’m still listening to them and they’re terrific.
You know why? Lots of reasons. What I am most impressed with is that each of these men, some deemed great successes in the outer world, went through some version of what I just shared with you and each is humble enough to realize that outward success is only one measure and not necessarily the most important thing in their lives. Finding out more about who they really are and living their passions is.
I invite you to join me at this Summit anytime by going to:
And by the way, Chris Kyle and George Daryani of the non-profit Mankind Project USA, the interviewers that hosted the Summit, are offering a powerful groundbreaking seven-week online course for men called Man On Purpose. You’ll see it at the site. It begins this month. No need to struggle alone when you have these guys on your team.