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Three Easy Steps Towards Purpose


The sun peeked its tired eyes through the cloudy smoke like cover of early morning. Rising in the east, it’s rays were no less spectacular under the dense cloud cover. Peering into the gray-blue sky a thought crossed my mind as I reflected on my past week.

Am I living my purpose?

It’s a challenging question. After all, do I only serve a single purpose or many? At the heart of my question was something even larger. Am I living my purpose in an authentic way, or have I become an imitator of admirable traits – just because they impress me?

Somehow I think that to own a purpose it has to be more than imitating something or someone I like – don’t you?

While I was wrestling with this inner dialog, a Latin word popped into my head. This is unusual as I typically don’t daydream in Latin.

The word was dignitas, and it is a Latin word referring to a unique, intangible, and culturally subjective social concept in the ancient Roman mindset. The word does not have a direct translation in English. Some interpretations include “dignity”, which is a derivation from “dignitas”, and “prestige” or “charisma.”

However, in ancient Rome, dignitas was regarded as the sum of the personal influence that a citizen acquired throughout his/her life.

Authors who had used dignitas extensively in their writings and oratories include Cicero, Julius Caesar, Tacitus, and Livy. The most prolific user was Cicero, who initially related it to the established term auctoritas (authority). These two words were highly associated, with the latter defined as the expression of a man’s dignities.

This is interesting because the word seems to reflect something deeper than just a person’s dignity. Dignities was created to reflect more; the inner man’s motivations combined with a person’s outer actions. It may be an antique concept, but it sets the stage for finding one’s purpose. I think that a leader can use this information to a meaningful purpose in life?

Three Easy Steps Towards Purpose in Life:

Step One: In order to find your true purpose you need to understand your deepest values. What you value and why is the most important bit of information about yourself you can discover. This will create all of your inner motivations in life. We are all value-driven people. When is the last time you sat down and asked the question, what do you value most in life and why?

For me, coming up with an answer took some work. (I created a coaching sheet designed to help others with this very question.– send me a note, and I’ll get you a copy.) When I discovered what I valued most, it unlocked a deeper understanding of why I do what I do.

Step Two: Putting your values to work is the next big step. You can do this by defining your mission. A personal life mission is a powerful one or two sentence statement that offers you clarity as you live life. No matter your vocation I would recommend going through this process. In life, I have found that you can either do a meaningful work or make your work meaningful.

To accomplish finding your mission simply grab a blank sheet of paper and begin. Write the first idea you have for a personal life mission. Then keep improving upon what you wrote until it screams “YES – This is ME!”

Step Three: Putting your mission into action. I believe you will find that this is the fun part. Try planning your next day with your mission in mind. What changes in your daily routine when you live by your values? How do you feel about your work when you add our concept of personal mission?

Admittedly, I’m intrigued by this concept of dignities and living an authentic mission. Somehow, for me, purpose helps to clear the mental cloud cover and guides me toward something amazing. A life that is bigger than myself. It’s an invitation to live an authentic life driven by what I value most.

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  1. Barb

    Would love to get a copy of that coaching sheet you talked about that helped you see what you value in life most.

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia04-23-2015

      Thanks Barb, I sent you the values worksheet this morning. Enjoy the process, and let us know how it goes.

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