I just got back from a road trip to Cooperstown, New York, where I introduced my two young daughters to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
My daughter Charlotte asked me who my favorite baseball player in the Hall of Fame was--and, after explaining that none of the current or recent New York Mets were in the Hall--I told her my favorite was Jackie Robinson. I chose Jackie not because of the ball player he was, though obviously he was an excellent one. I chose Jackie for the person he was, and for the influence he had on others, and on the world.
Jackie Robinson said: "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
Mark Twain said: "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."
These are two of the most powerful quotes I've ever read, and I try to live by both every day. I believe I was born to help build a more "likeable" world for my children, my family, and those who I affect through my writing, speaking, teaching, and leading. I believe I was born to help my children and others become more transparent, authentic leaders who put others' needs first.
Why were you born? What is your purpose in life?
If you know the answers to those two questions, you're off to a great start, and I'll simply suggest that you remind yourself the answers every day.
If you're not sure yet, it's never too late--or too early to figure it out.
Here are three books I highly recommend to help guide you in our journey towards answering these questions:
This classic career book may advertise that it's practical, but I used in it when I was 21 years old to help me find my purpose at the time. It's chock-full of guidance and introspective activities to help you find your direction, whether you're just out of college or feeling burned out at any age.
This more recent classic from Simon Sinek will help business people, especially entrepreneurs, better understand the importance of your professional purpose, not only for you but for your entire organization. Now, more than ever, you need to be able to answer the "purpose" question, and this book helps you answer it--not only for yourself but, importantly, for others you lead.
One of the best-selling books of all time, The Purpose-Driven Life helps people of all ages and backgrounds determine their purpose, but is especially well-suited for those of you who observe the Christian faith. Author Rick Warren takes you on a journey both inward and outward, and you'll probably come away after reading it feeling inspired and focused.
Whether you read a book like one of these or use another tool to help you find (or refine) your purpose, it's clear to me that at end of the day knowing your purpose will help you get further.
One final note: Today marks my seventh wedding anniversary. Seven years ago I married fellow Inc. columnist Carrie Kerpen, and she's been a big part of my "why"--personally and professionally--ever since. I love you, Carrie. Happy Anniversary!
Why were you born? And how did you figure it out? Please let me know in the Comments section below!