Lessons from a Life: Integrity

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Lesson #10: Claim a purpose
Stephen Covey defined integrity as “When your thoughts, feelings and actions are all in alignment.” I love that insight because he was the first person I heard that discussed feelings in this context. You can sense when you are out of integrity when you feel off center. Claiming a purpose, by clearly defining your values and intentions and then going all out to pursue them, is one powerful way to develop integrity.

Having a clear purpose, may also help you live longer! Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones, studies the secrets of longevity. He discovered that people with a defined purpose live, on average, seven years longer than those without one

I visit with people every day who long for more harmony in their work and often feel like they are out of integrity when it comes to doing the work prescribed by bosses that is not aligned with their own moral compass. For example, recently I talked to a worker at a big insurance company who feels like new company practices are unfair to customers and employees and focus only. This is wearing her out and not aligned with her own purpose of being of service to her clients and fellow employees.

When I work with clients in groups or one-on-one, I help each person create a personal purpose statement that addresses work and life roles, not unlike a company mission statement. When completed, it provides the author fuel that propels them toward deeper meaning, and a better life regardless of the obstacles.

A well-crafted purpose statement will inspire you. For some of my clients being the best parent and/or spouse is their purpose and the work they do must serve this. Others choose to be more creative, while a few are up for a purpose that has global impact. Your purpose should address the values and roles you have that are most important to you in the long run. A good career purpose statement will answer the question: Why am I working?

Here is my purpose statement, by role:

Artist: I express myself with passion and courage.
Seeker: To honor spirit by searching and practicing faith.
Friend: Building true and loving relationships.
Person: I am physically strong and emotionally alive.
Leader: I lead others to learn and follow their own hearts.
Community member: I support ideas and people healing our world.
Business owner: Teaching skillfully and creating prosperity.
Me: Having fun and learning new things every day.

Whenever I make a major decision, I try to revisit this purpose that set to music by my wonderful friend Claude Stein so I can sing it. In addition I have a short statement I use as an umbrella purpose: To follow my heart and trust what moves me.

Ideally, having a purpose statement is something you can refer to when you have hard decisions to make and it will make the process easier. For example, recently, I visited Boulder, Colorado to meet with a new business partner and get re-acquainted with old friends. The trip was magical and led me to contemplate moving there.  Once I revisited my purpose, I knew it was the right decision and I am moving there in January.

You can create a simple draft of a purpose statement by doing these 3 things:

1. Create a list of 10 of your favorite (positive) words.
2. Create a list of 3 of your most critical roles.
3. Write a statement for each role in #2 that answers the question: Why do I have this role in my life?, using the words from #1 as inspiration.

If you are moved to, share your results with me here.
Laurel Donnellan

© 2014, brightlivelihoods. All rights reserved.

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