“Purpose is the recognition of the ‘loyalty of life’ … We receive from life what we are loyal to.” (p. 14 in The Power of Purpose)
When I encounter the word “loyalty”, I immediately remember saying the Pledge of Allegiance as a very young citizen of this country. Loyalty seems to evoke images like the one above … a group of people earnestly promising to do and support things in a particular way.
As an adult, I have come to realize that loyalty has very little, if anything, to do with reciting oaths and making promises. Sometimes your loyalty is to an ideal, which means that you resist the outward symbols and take issue with what is asked of you. But that’s a post for another day …
The type of loyalty referred to in the quotation above is a much more personal type of loyalty.
The quotation comes from a powerful little book titled The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better by Richard J. Leider., who has written a number of books, alone and with others, but all with a common focus on living with purpose. This is an updated third version, which I am revisiting in connection with my participation in a pilot program around that very task of discerning one’s purpose and living life more completely, especially as we age past what used to be called “retirement“.
The basic message throughout Leider’s writing goes something like this:
We ought to live with purpose until we die … Best figure out what our purpose is now and focus on it as long as we live.
He celebrates aging as another part of life, to which we can bring energy, expectations, and our lifetime of learning how to cope, connect, and thrive. It’s pretty positive stuff:).
One idea that intrigues me is found within a section to ensure we understand fully this idea that we discern and live out our purpose in life. Leider differentiates nicely between our purpose and our goals, which helps us “busy-doing” people step back and reflect on what we are called to do.
In that discussion, Leider mentions “loyalty” in the context of what we hope to get from life. This is a vital connection: If we expect something to be in our lives, we must be loyal to that thing … it’s not a one-way street or a handout to the deserving.
Purpose is also not a list of goals that we check off as we complete something or pass a marker. Our purpose is that deep-down driver of our emotions, our behavior, and our thoughts.
I may have a GOAL to keep up a healthy marriage, but my PURPOSE might be to treat others (not just some) with respect, gentleness, and love. The marriage is just an example of how I live out that purpose.
In Summary: Ultimately, we are what we are true to. If we are loyal to our true purpose, we will enjoy fuller and richer lives.
What are you loyal to in your life now?
What legacy shines through your family life, community involvement, personal relationships, work, and spirituality?
Is your legacy what you really value and want in your life?
The answer to the last question is really an opportunity to check how close to your aspirations you are coming. It is definitely not about how much wealth you have accumulated or what trials you have overcome, not which races you have won or what you have achieved.
ARE YOU THE PERSON YOU HOPE TO BE?
Answering this question is where the potential for real power lies.
If these kind of questions intrigue you, consider spending some time thinking about your purpose … not your laundry list of things to do, or your resume full of accomplishments, awards, and achievements but what you desire to be and share deep down inside. This would probably be time well spent.
Considering my question and finding it challenging to be completely honest in the Heartland ….
Image: Students pledging to the flag, 1899, 8th Division, Washington, D.C. Part of the Frances Benjamin Johnston 1890 – 1900 Washington, D.C., school survey. In the Public Domain and obtained from Wikipedia.