And deep down you know it.
Most people think that our purpose here on this earth is to live for others. To give, to serve. It’s one of those platitudes that we’ve just come to accept. And on the surface it sounds good. Who wouldn’t want to help others? Scrooge, maybe. No one wants to be Scrooge.
But there’s a problem.
‘Live for others’ is a lie.
It’s an agreement we make in our early years. We learn that to be accepted, we must contort ourself to the wishes of others. To be recognized and celebrated, we must follow the rules. Rules are great and all, don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of rules.
But when following the rules becomes our validation, we have a problem.
Here’s how it happens.
We learn that if we give Timmy our shovel, he will give us the pail and the ‘big people’ let us play longer in the sandbox. We learn to sit quietly so the teacher will like us and let us go to recess. Yes, the skills of sharing and authority are important, but I think we extract the wrong lesson. We learn not the value of sharing and authority, rather, we learn the value of living for others. We’re not taught that doing these things will advance our own life, rather we’re told to do it because ‘it’s the right thing to do.’ We have to be nice to others. And just like that, we begin to link successful action on our part to how other people perceive and receive it. It’s a subtle shift, but it creates a chasm so deep from which most people never extricate.
I’m not your personal genie. I’m not going to live my life as a silver platter to your desires. You might think “that’s ludicrous, no one thinks that way.” Oh, yea? Well they live that way.
I’ll prove it.
The majority of people base their decisions on how others will respond.
Example: you see an attractive person across the coffee shop. Do you walk up to them and say hi?
Most people wouldn’t. I might look stupid. Or The other person will think I’m weird. Or I’ll come across as awkward to them. Or They might reject me. Notice how every reason deals with the other person’s perception of you. If you were living your life for you and not for others, your thought process would be different, something along the lines of Wow, that person could be my future partner & hot damn are they fine. It’s a huge difference.
When faced with a choice, our conditioned thought process (unless interrupted) is to internally sift through the following questions before deciding what to do:
So we edit our lives. We edit our dreams.
So anxious to offend, we live our lives on eggshells. So fearful of looking foolish, we live our lives in the safe zone. Who ever did anything worthwhile from that zip code?
Such a person is a slave to the opinions of others. And here’s the problem. No one wants to be a slave. We want be a warrior. We want to follow a warrior. Someone who is on their own mission and going after it no matter what people think. That is the type of person to whom we’re attracted. Think of every person you truly admire — public figures, influencers, writers. They live for themselves. Period.
Our purpose is not to live for others. It is to live for ourselves. It comes down to choosing our path and living it from a place of authenticity.
But what about Mother Teresa? Yes, what about her. If she cared about the opinions of others, she never would have set foot in Calcutta’s dirtiest and poorest streets. Her conviction to her work was deeply personal. It’s what set her heart on fire. Notice, hers.
Discovering your purpose is a very intimate and individual act — between you and your Creator. It doesn’t involve other people. It happens in the quiet recesses of the soul. That purpose will include others — don’t get me wrong. We are wired for connection, and nothing will give us greater satisfaction than using our gifts to enrich the lives of others. But it doesn’t start there. It doesn’t start with people. It starts with you. You and your Author. You and your purpose. Personal. Individual. Self-actualizing.
And that’s the irony. If your focus is all on others — what you can give them, how you can please them, how you can gain their applause — you’ll never be satisfied. If the focus is on you and fulfilling your mission day by day, THEN and only then can you actually influence the lives of others. It’s precisely when we don’t *need* others that we make the most impact.
See, ‘live for others’ has the aftertaste of sincerity, but not the substance.
That’s the thing about a lie — it contains a hint of truth, otherwise it wouldn’t be so attractive.
If we live for others (their adulation and applause) we help no one. If we live for ourselves and our mission, we operate from a place of strength and conviction, the only soil that can change the world.
But change your own world first.
And then gosh, there’s no telling what you will go on to do. 🔥🔥🔥
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