Purpose, Destiny, and your Gift

Posted by Mike Kaaks

12 January 2014

In looking back at some notes about destiny recently I was struck by the connection between destiny and purpose. Around the same time I chanced upon a TV program (yes blokes do too much channel hopping, but it often has big payoffs) in which pianist James Rhodes described the emotional high he experienced when playing, in particular when playing Beethoven. The depth of feeling he expressed was moving. So much so that I called Sally to join me. We then sat glued for 25 minutes including 20 minutes of Rhodes playing Beethoven’s Piano Sonata 30 right through. The emotion was palpable. In addition to this being a window on Purpose, I realised I was seeing a man display his unique gift.

For many years now I have believed we all have something in us which for that quality puts us at the top of the world, in the best of the best. For some of us it is coupled with a ready ability to bring it to life, in others it lies dormant. A timely confirmation of this was the performance of a young US college footballer named Jameis Winston in the National title game. Having just become the youngest winner of that game’s highest individual honour, he lead his team to a last minute win in the biggest game of the year. Clearly he is an example of the ability to bring forth that unique quality. It was a joy to watch. All of this, the Rhodes experience in particular, led me to ask what is my unique quality. Has it shown itself in my life to date? Is it something I’m totally unaware of? Is my belief about this right – if not I might be searching for something that doesn’t exist.

You should know that I’m blessed in the way of the ancient Greeks. I have a Muse. So I turned to her and posed the question – what is my unique quality. In a flash she replied “your Purpose is helping others to find their purpose”. It wasn’t a description of my unique quality but how it might be used. I feel like I'm still searching, but closer to the answer.

Coming back to the view that destiny (in this case a label for our unique gift) and purpose are two parts of a whole, I am faced with the question “so what? What should I do about it? What should I do with it?” If I’m representing such a small part of the global population I feel that I should do something special with it. The beauty is I’m not alone, none of us is alone. I see others out there acting on what I am seeing. My point is that in business we need to deliver benefit to society, not just to immediate stakeholders. There is some conflict here because business has sustained me through life, it plays a most significant part of keeping the world going. Sadly, as this process flows, it leads to the concentration of wealth. This is an issue we have to deal with, ideally not through government but through business finding it’s true purpose and acting genuinely in the interest of the society. I am coming to value the approach of the Qakers.

It's clear that there won’t be a shift from black to white overnight; I won’t be able to create a new world order. Which ever cliché you like about big endeavours starting with small steps, each of them applies to this situation now. For me. And for our corporations. I recall when Corporate Social Responsibility was in its infancy. It was as if all we had to do was include a new section in the annual report and send a couple of people on a study tour. Bit by bit things changed. Industry-wide initiatives like Fair Trade are now well entrenched. The time is right for business to find it's unique gift and to deliver against a deeper purpose.