From the May 2008 issue of Wealth Manager Web • Subscribe!

The Power of Purpose

Do you know what your life purpose is? Oddly enough, most people don't; in fact, it's pretty rare to find someone who does. That's why financial advisors who do know their life purpose--who know exactly who they are, what they're doing, and why they're doing it--are incredibly attractive to other people.

When you know your life purpose, and live from it, you radiate an irresistible aura of success and self-confidence that magnetically draws the kinds of relationships, opportunities and "lucky breaks" that others envy. Knowing your purpose gives you unstoppable momentum that will enable you to earn more money, attract better clients and enjoy a superior lifestyle. It's the secret factor--the "special sauce"--that makes people say, "What is it about that person? I want to talk to, connect with, and work with that person. I want to be more like that person."

Each of us has a life purpose, and while it may take some time, you can come to fully know yours. By creating and executing on a business vision that flows directly from it, you are far more likely to achieve extraordinary levels of success.

Being Successful on Purpose

One of my favorite maxims is "Being successful on purpose." It has two meanings: First, it means clearly thinking things through and then systematically executing the necessary steps. By purposefully planning to succeed, your odds of creating fabulous outcomes substantially increase. Success doesn't just happen; you have to purposefully make it happen.

Second, it means being successful on your terms and in ways that serve your deepest purpose. Whatever your particular career path, consider the many steps of your current career ladder. Even if you climb it on purpose--as thoughtfully, proactively and effectively as possible--you wouldn't want to reach the top only to discover the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.

When you live your life on purpose--both intentionally by planning to be successful and by being successful on terms that resonate with what is really most important to you--you bring all of who you are into every interpersonal interaction. Consequently, you will attract ideal clients and staff much more easily and more effectively address each day's many details. You'll also provide yourself with a true compass that keeps you on track throughout even the most high-pressure day.

Defining Your Life Purpose

There are no easy definitions here. Each of us has a unique life purpose that we must state in our own unique way. However, two guiding principles may be helpful: First, your life purpose is not just theoretical. It's not just words you write down or say aloud. Instead, what matters is finding a way to evoke the feelings that enable you to powerfully connect with what you really care about.

My own life purpose is to bring joy, inspiration, courage and financial success to thousands of people so that they can in turn bring joy, inspiration, courage, and financial success to thousands of other people. Everything I do professionally--from coaching financial advisors to writing articles like this one--is enlivened and strengthened by this purpose. Whenever I have any doubts about what I'm doing or why I'm doing it, I summon my purpose to rapidly gain clarity and conviction.

As a financial advisor, your own life purpose might involve helping your clients to realize their most important financial goals and dreams. It may include building a world-class business that sets high expectations for client service and satisfaction, and then delivers on those promises. And it may well extend to being able to make a meaningful difference for your family and in your community.

Second, finding and dedicating yourself to your life purpose will let you take your own life seriously in a way that nothing else will. Ask yourself right now: Do you take your life--and your current level of success--seriously? This question is crucial, because no one else is going to take your life seriously for you. Clarifying your life purpose--and living from it--produces a serious and sobering effect unlike any other.

Step One: Making the Commitment

If you are like most people, you may be feeling a good deal of trepidation or even intimidation by now. Clarifying one's life purpose seems a bit grandiose and unrealistic--as if you were JFK proclaiming the U.S. will reach the moon within a decade.

But we did make it to the moon, and you do have a life purpose that you can uncover. You're entering into unknown territory, so at first it may feel a bit scary. When walking into a dark room, it takes a short while for our eyes to adjust to the darkness. But soon enough we can see a bit better, perhaps well enough to find and pull back the curtains or turn on a light. Eventually, one way or another, the darkness lifts.

The same is true of finding your purpose. Acknowledge that it may be shrouded in darkness. Tell yourself that although the task may seem daunting, you're going to purposefully commit to sticking with it. Yes, you'll have to move out of your comfort zone--into the darkness--to make this possible. But ultimately, you'll discover that finding your purpose is quite achievable. It's simply unknown territory--not unknowable territory.

Step Two: Singing Your Song

Having made the commitment, you're not bound by any specific formula or guaranteed time period. Instead, clarifying your life purpose is a process that you lean into and gain feedback from.

In William Wordsworth's poem ThePrelude, a boy comes to a clearing at the forest's edge for many days in a row. The boy clasps his hands and makes a kind of hooting sound, hoping to get a response from the forest's numerous owls. Day after day he makes his calls, yet nothing happens. Finally, one day he gets it just right...and the forest comes vividly alive with the haunting, hooting chorus of many owls.

You can begin in similar fashion, regularly creating a clearing for yourself. Put aside time and space to begin to really listen to yourself. Experiment with the kinds of words and sentiments that truly express your purpose. (At some point early on you'll want to write these down.) Practice saying these words--in your mind, at first, then gently aloud, and then exuberantly, perhaps even singing them--as you pay close attention to whether you feel a resonance, an answer, a "hooting" from your own heart and mind.

As you start to bring your purpose into your daily life, you'll notice that people begin to respond to you differently--more positively. Try focusing on your purpose right before a big client meeting and see how well things can go. As you begin to use and refine your purpose, you'll get better at knowing when and how to hone it further. As you do, you'll receive additional feedback.

Ultimately, your purpose statement is like a song--your song. The more you practice it, the more it will resonate within you, and the better you'll get at conveying it. You won't be able to do all this in a single afternoon or even a weekend; instead, it may take many months. But as you start to hit the notes of your song with all the depth and clarity of which you're capable, you'll find that people around you will come alive in a different way, and you'll begin to rapidly achieve the professional and personal success you've always dreamed of attaining

Robert Niederman is director of coaching for CEG Worldwide (, an industry research, training and consulting firm.

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