Purpose, Work and Family

I was speaking at the annual meeting of a company I work with. I gave the audience an exercise to do and asked them what it said about the positive perspective. A man responded, “It orients you to possibility.” A woman I had previously taught, and who I knew to be filled with purpose, raised her hand and said, “It orients you to endless possibility.”

During the break the woman approached me and said she wanted to introduce me to someone. She turned to a radiant, teenage girl. She said, “This is my daughter Julia.”

I asked Julia some basic questions and she explained that she came to her mother’s professional meeting so she could hear my presentation. She said she loved leadership and wanted to learn all she could. I asked this sixteen year-old where her life was going and she said, “To endless possibility.”

As we were parting, her purpose-driven mother told me she loved raising her children and she loved her work. It was a declaration of living an integrated life. I was so moved by her words that when I began the next session, I called her to the front of the room and I asked her to introduce all of us to Julia, and to tell everyone what she just told me. She did so with pride and with love and the audience hung on her every word.

I then told the audience that the conflicting demands between work and family are real. There are two different sets of expectations. Yet there is only one me. When we live with a contributive orientation and a clear sense of purpose, we still have the external conflicts, but we have a different internal response. We have more clarity, more courage and more kindness for ourselves and others. We become more able to transcend conflicts and more able to live an integrated life. When we have a higher purpose we live in endless possibility.




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