Purpose, Superpowers and Penguins

Welcome back to Fasting Fridays :), figured we should talk about purpose. I’ve been pondering it recently because of the business I’m in. I meet so many people who have walked away from corporate careers to start a business that they believe is their true calling. It’s been making me think about what our purpose is.

Mrs FF has been quoting that age old line, about how much time you spend at work vs how much time you spend at home. They say that you spend a third of your life at work. But actually, it is a lot more than that. You also spend time sleeping, so if you really consider that you spend 8 hours a day working, about an hour or so commuting (could be up to 3 hrs in a big city), you spend anywhere from 4-5 hours at home awake and active. So you spend double or more of your time at your work on a weekday!! Frankly that is an insane proportion of your day doing something that brings you no joy.

Steve Harvey has this video where he talks about purpose.

About as easy as climbing Mount Everest

Finding your purpose in life is hard, in that it takes energy to sit and think about this very hard, very elusive question. Once you believe you have identified your purpose, it takes even more energy to change your circumstances, and to convince your family, to plan. It is no easy thing, living in your purpose.

But the cost of not living in your purpose is too great. When you are miserable waking up in the morning, it affects you, and all those you love (in fact it affects them the most!). You are unlikely to be successful at a thing that you feel unwilling to do every day. And you spend more of your resources trying to be happy in other areas of life, because you don’t feel a sense of fulfillment in your calling.

A penguin shouldn’t fly

We used to go to a church in Buffalo, and the Pastor once did a session speaking to parents. He talked about how as parents, we need to identify our children’s gifts and talents, and encourage them in that. He gave the analogy of a penguin child. If the parents of a penguin look at that penguin, and say, you’re a bird, you should fly well, they will make that child’s life miserable.

They will send that penguin to remedial classes, they will pay for extra flying training, they will spend nights and weekends trying to teach that penguin to fly. Who knows, after all that, the penguin may learn to fly a few yards. But he will NEVER be a great flier. A mediocre and very fat chicken probably could outdo that penguin.

BUT, put that penguin in the water. He will be unrivaled and can beat most fish at swimming and diving. That is what a penguin was made to do!

So parents, stop teaching your penguin to fly. Figure out what they excel at, and encourage them in their skills. Of course we need to build them up in the basics of all other talents also to live in this world, but accept some kids may never be math geniuses, and thats ok. The world also needs artists, movie producers and musicians.

Are you a penguin?

That talk really impacted me, many, many years before I had kids, and it made me also see my own gifts in a new light. My whole life I’d been told I’m the laziest person most people know. And there is truth to that. I was an easygoing and extremely lazy individual. But that laziness translated to a desire to do things more efficiently, so that I spent the least amount of time on a particular task. I’m an incredible problem solver, and I will figure out a better way to do things (typically by automation).

My laziness is in fact, my superpower. My laziness and general distaste for physical activity made me introspective. So I sit and think about a problem, and wont let go until I crack it.

Now one of my kids is the same way. Although I still need her to move fast when the circumstances call for it, I know she will never be very organized or physically capable in activities. But I see her incredible aptitude in problem solving. She will excel in the sciences, because that is her laziness derived superpower.

The other kid has such a natural rythm, such a natural physical dexterity, that it’s honestly amazing (that she is any relation of mine at all). She will excel at the arts and anything that requires skill and concentration. That is her stubborness derived superpower.

In that vein, we each need to figure out our superpower. Whatever negatives that the world has been pronouncing about our own personalities, figure out the positive side of that. If the world calls you stubborn, you may be persistent. If the world calls you lazy, you may be a problem solver. The world only appreciates the end product, it will never encourage you on the journey.

You have a superpower, use it!

I guarantee every one of us has a superpower. That superpower gives us purpose. Some of us are not living out the gifting we have been given, and will need to change course. That takes time and effort. But sitting down and thinking about it, thinking about the person you want to be, is the first step. Not just in terms of purpose, but also in terms of the character we want to exhibit. Think about it, journal it, and then make changes to get you to your end state. A good character, and a happy life, does not happen by magic, it happens by intentional change.

One more thing, our final purpose will be about service. It’s not about making money. We humans, as social beings, derive our purpose from service.

So as you sit and think about purpose, think about it in terms of service to a community. That is where you will find a purpose that lights you up, that makes you get up in the morning and want to do something meaningful in this world. Help your children identify their giftings and their purpose, so that they can have the most impact in their lives.

Finding purpose is a gift that pays exponential dividends. Stay joyful my friends, and see you next week!