Finding Your Soul Purpose Through Your Story

Feb 22, 2018
 

I want to talk today about how you can find your soul purpose through your life story. The idea that your life story is the key to finding your soul purpose has come to me gradually over the last 18 months or so. There are many stories, which could've been written about your life, but there's only one that has been written to the present.

So this week, to help you understand this concept, instead of my usual lesson-oriented blog, I'm going to tell you my story and how I found my soul purpose. To date, I've only shared this story with a few dozen people, and this is the first time that I'm actually putting it in writing.

Keep in mind, the story I'm telling here is primarily focused on my soul purpose, which for me centers around my vocation. Not everyone's soul purpose centers around their vocation. For example, some are here to build families or care for others without compensation through a vocation. In future posts, I will share other aspects of my life story to emphasize a point about this or that, but for now, this is my story as it relates to finding my soul purpose through my vocation.

Finally, not even all of my family members have heard this version of my story, and I know many of them are reading and listening to this blog. So, I trust you will enjoy this. Let's get started.

Finding My Soul Purpose Story

It all started when I was about five years old. I was going out fishing with my father and my grandfather early one morning. This was back in the days before you needed to wear a seatbelt. So, as a five-year-old, I was laying in the back of the station wagon and looking up at the stars and the Milky Way and wondering about God and infinity that somebody had told me about recently. It kind of blew my mind as a five-year-old, but in that moment of thinking about God and infinity and the universe, I felt being called into it. I felt being called into play. There was a distinct sense that there was a role for me to take on in this lifetime, but I really didn't know what that was as a five-year-old.

The Standard American Dream (S.A.D.) Formula

So, I looked around me, and I looked at what other people were doing. I was wondering, "Well, what am I supposed to do here?" Recently, I came up with this concept that there's a Standard American Dream formula, and I've also shared this idea with many people from other developing and first world countries who said, "Yeah, that's pretty much the formula in my country too." It goes like this:

  1. Go to school.
  2. Get good grades.
  3. Get a good job.
  4. Find a spouse.
  5. Get married.
  6. Buy a House
  7. Have some kids.
  8. And in America, have your friends over on the weekends for barbecues.

That's pretty much how it goes around the world. And while that's all good for society with people getting educated and getting jobs and all that, it doesn't always speak to the soul purpose of every individual in society. For some people, it's fine. For others, they're being called here to do more.

Teenage Entrepreneur - My First Company

I went on with this S.A.D. formula for a while and did very well in school with the grades part of the formula, and when I was in my teenage years, I really felt a calling to be an entrepreneur. I couldn't stand the thought of flipping burgers or being a waiter which was what most of my friends were doing. So, I started a little home remodeling business, and I'm not joking when I say some of the houses that we worked on looked like the house in the photo above. In fact, this is a picture of a house from one of the neighborhoods where I worked. When we first pulled up, they would look like this, and we would proceed to spend months working on them and making them habitable again. This little company I got going when I was 15. I had to hire guys that were a little older than me to actually drive me around until I was able to get my license and a car.

This company was great because I worked hard, learned a lot, earned a lot of money, and was able to help supplement my college expenses. I really got a taste for what it's like to run your own business, to have employees, and to do your own thing on your own time. It was great, and I loved that entrepreneurial aspect of it.

Back to the Standard American Dream (S.A.D.) Formula

Even though I loved owning and running my own business, I was called back to the S.A.D. Formula because I had bought into the formula. I went to college because part of the formula is to "get good grades". I went to University of Kansas, which is a beautiful place if you've never been there, and I started out in architecture because I felt like I was being called to build things. As you'll see later on, I was being called to build things other than buildings, but I started out in architecture. I soon discovered architecture wasn't for me, and I switched over to electrical engineering, which in hindsight, was a good decision because I learned a lot about a lot of things that I'm able to use today.

Being a Rocket Scientist

Through meeting some people at the University of Kansas via a whole other story I'll tell some day, I was able to secure my first job out of college at NASA's Johnson's Space Center working on the Space Shuttle Program in Mission Control! This opportunity was pretty darn awesome for a kid that's 21, coming out of college to be hanging out with astronauts and all that.

I was part of the effort to bring the shuttle back online because, if you remember, in 1996 the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded during ascent. I was part of the team that was bringing the Space Shuttle Program back online after that tragedy. It was a lot of fun at the time to be part of that effort, and I felt like I was part of something BIG that was making a difference in the world.

I remember, at some point, after the fun started to wear off, there was this guy, and I'm not going to call him by his real name - let me call him Ralph. Ralph was my peer. Keep in mind, I'm 21. He's 61, and he's doing the same job I am. I'm looking at Ralph thinking, "There's no way that I'm gonna to be him when I'm 61!" It just wasn't going to happen. It just wasn't what I was here to do. It certainly wasn't an entrepreneurial-oriented job. I was working through Rockwell Shuttle Operations company, but in essence, I was working for the government.

Back to the S.A.D. Formula for More Education along with "Good Grades"

While working at NASA was great, as a first job out of college, I decided I had to get more education. You know - go back to the formula, and get more education. I decided to get my MBA. Through my MBA, I got involved in lots of interesting things including, with a buddy of mine, Scott Satterwhite,  a business plan competition put on by the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. There were over 200 submissions from around the world, and we came in the top five. As a result, we had the opportunity to present our idea to a panel of judges. We ultimately did not win, but we sure had a lot of fun doing it. The key things in it for me were synthesizing ideas and organizing them into a way that makes for a good company. I was also, in that sense, being entrepreneurial which I love. It was a great opportunity for personal development.

Also, during my MBA program, I was part of the SEDS, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, where I worked with Peter Diamandis to put on the Annual International SEDS Conference. This project allowed me to, again, be entrepreneurial, to speak and to motivate other people about the benefits of space.

The "Good Job" Part of the S.A.D. Formula

Once I completed my MBA, I was able to secure a job at KPMG, which again, is going back to the S.A.D. Formula and the "get a good job" part of it. I got my education, my MBA. Now I have a good job at KPMG, one of the top consulting firms in the world. Again, it was great, and through that opportunity, I learned a lot about business process management.

I led the effort to organize and synthesize a lot of information that KPMG was teaching our clients and wrote a book about it. I trained over 5,000 people on these processes, and I loved it. I loved speaking and training.

Maybe There is Something BIGGER Than the S.A.D. Formula?!

While I was at KPMG, I was also introduced to a man by the name of Frank White who wrote a book called "The Overview Effect", and I started to think about bigger things in the world. The Overview Effect, if you haven't heard about it, is the term that Frank gave a cognitive shift of awareness that's been reported by some of the astronauts and cosmonauts during space flight often when viewing the earth from orbit or from the lunar surface. It refers to the experience of seeing first-hand the reality of earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny and fragile ball of life "hanging in the void", shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, national boundaries vanish. The conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this "pale blue dot" becomes both obvious and imperative.

The term "pale blue dot" comes from one of the astronauts who, coming back from the moon, realized that he was able to hold his thumb up in front of his face and literally blot out the earth, and that's how fragile he experienced it. Many people, after interacting with these astronauts, observed that these individuals also had a noticeable difference in their attitude after their experience of seeing the earth from space.

One day after reading the book, I called Frank up, and I said, "Hey Frank. I love your book. I want to tell the world about it." And he's like, "Okay. What can I do to support you?" He sent me a bunch of slides, I put together a presentation, and I went to several conferences and just presented on his book and how great I thought it was. Again, it was an opportunity to write and speak. I never took that effort anywhere else, but it was something I loved and enjoyed. All that said, you'll see how this ties in later in this post.

More S.A.D. Formula Opportunities in the City by the Bay

From Houston, I had an opportunity to move to San Francisco with KPMG. Ultimately with KPMG, I decided that it was only semi-entrepreneurial as a partner within a much larger organization, and I wanted something that was a little more entrepreneurial in a smaller organization. So, I found a program / project management firm with clients like Wells Fargo and Kaiser Permanente, which allowed me to pursue some of the things I loved - synthesize information, organize it, and motivate people to get projects done. I worked for 10 years in San Francisco, Oakland, and the Bay Area doing some great projects!

The Entrepreneur Calling Comes Back

During that time, I was also able to write another book called "Great Idea! Now What?" I co-authored with a man by the name of Howard Bronson who I'll tell you about in another story. This opportunity was getting back to what I love to do - to write, to motivate and to speak, and it was entrepreneurially oriented. I loved this stuff, and I pursued it as a side hobby wishing I could figure out how to make it my full time endeavor.

More Entrepreneurial Adventures - My Second Company

 

As another kind of side venture, I joined a network marketing company that was centered around personal development, and again, this appealed to my love for interacting with people, to be entrepreneurial, to organize and then motivate people to get a job done, and I had a lot of fun doing it! Before I was able to grow my network to a size capable of replacing my job income, the network marketing company was sold, and it was like starting all over again. A good lesson in business models!

Another Semi-Entrepreneurial Opportunity

In 2005, I was contacted by a friend of mine from college who said, "Hey, I'm building this company around home automatization." and later we did a lot of stuff with mobile app development, controlling homes and other things through mobile apps. He said, "Do you want to join me as a manager and be part of the business?" At that point in time, I was like, "Yeah, that would be great." because I wanted to get into a management position where I could motivate, train and coach people, and it was opportunity for personal development on my part.

I was able to create new processes at this company, synthesize and organize a lot of information, and write about the things that needed to get done in the company. So, it really appealed to me on a lot of levels. It was semi-entrepreneurial for me because I was a part owner, but it wasn't my business entirely. I was a minority share-holder, and after 11 years, I was really yearning for something more, something that was more my own, and I decided to create my own company.

My Third Entrepreneurial Company

I found an opportunity to team up with some colleagues from my San Francisco days, and I started my own program management consulting company. This, again, has given me the opportunity to synthesize and organize ideas, to motivate people, and to get projects done - things I love to do. 

In conjunction with this new consulting company that I created, I also hired a coach. Again, I have been focused on personal development throughout my career, and I wanted to figure out what's next for me? How do I take this new company to the next level? 

The Origins of Life Story Messages as a Path to Soul Purpose

Through working on my personal development with my coach and in my consulting work, this concept of story as a source for my soul purpose started coming at me from multiple directions.

  1. First, in my consulting business, I was introduced to Nancy Duarte's book called "Illuminate, Ignite Change through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies and Symbols"
  2.  John Cotter wrote a book called "The Heart of Change, Real Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations". These two books were some key resources I used in some of my consulting work, but I could see how the concepts related to individuals as well.
  3. I also volunteered with my coach, Michelle Humphrey, to deliver a presentation to our Mastermind group called "The Importance of Story". I was delivering this presentation relative to our communication with others, especially as it relates to our businesses.
  4. Then last year, I was introduced to Ted McGrath's Message to Millions concept about how your story, your life story, is your message to the world.

My Soul Purpose Through My Life Story Messages

It was through all of these touch points on story that I began to wonder, "What's the message for me in my life story?" I began to write down every significant event I could remember, and I looked for the themes and the patterns.

What kept coming up for me, and you should've heard it in the story that I've been telling here so far here, is that I love to:

  1. Organize and Synthesize Information
  2. Write
  3. Speak and Train
  4. Coach and Motivate
  5. Engage in Personal Development
  6. Operate Entrepreneurial Businesses

So, with all of these things in front of me, I was looking at these patterns and asking, "What is it that I can do that encompasses all of the things I love to do?"

And then it came to me in an instant! I realized that I could create a business that would encompass all the things that I love to do! In addition, I could create something that would help people think beyond themselves and encompass all of humanity and the fragile planet that we live on (remember "The Overview Effect" earlier?).

As I thought about it more and let that idea percolate in my mind - remember that you create whatever you think about - the pieces slowly started to come together into this blog and the related coaching business that provides me with the opportunity to:

  1. Synthesize and organize new ideas
  2. Write blog posts, training courses, and books
  3. Training and motivating people interested in my particular take on life
  4. Coach people to their highest potential and improve the world with my effort
  5. Do it all in my own entrepreneurial business!

All of those things that I love to do together is why I'm here today talking to you, and really, what more could I ask for?

ASSIGNMENT: What's Your Life Story Message and Soul Purpose?

That's my story of how I looked at my life story, looked for the patterns and the themes, and ultimately came up with what I'm doing today.

As I close out this post, I want to ask you, what's your story? I have an assignment for you, if you're willing to take it on.

  1. Write down in chronological order every significant event that you can remember in your life. The challenges, the losses, the wins, the accomplishments. Everything that you can think of.
  2. Look at each one that you write down - maybe on the left hand side of a piece of paper, or if you want to use a computer program to do it - and on the right-hand side, next to each event, write down the lesson or the message in each event. I love to write, speak, train, synthesize, organize, engage in personal development, and operate entrepreneurial business. What are the things that your life story wants to tell you?
  3. Look for the patterns and recurring themes that you see on that piece of paper in front of you.
  4. Synthesize the themes into a new outlook on your life, your gifts, and ultimately your soul purpose.

If you engage in this exercise seriously, I'm confident you'll have a shift in perception of the events in your life, what they really mean, and what they are telling you about your soul purpose!

Finally, if you're new to this blog, check out the Start Here and the Reading List pages, invite others that you think can benefit from what I'm talking about, and I'll see you next week. 

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