Waking People Up

Nick Craig is on fire. He has spent the last decade focused on the concept of purpose, and he has helped thousands of people to find their life purpose. Yesterday I was on the phone with Nick, and he joyfully told me story after story of transformational moments when people were able to state their life mission.

Nick told me about the poverty and desperation of his childhood. One day he was standing in a bookstore when it suddenly became clear that he had to make a decision: “I could continue to live in the victim mentality or I could live in a mentality of possibility. I began to take accountability for my life. Others chose to remain in the victim mentality and we have ended up in very different places.”

Nick said, “My life mission is to wake you up and have you finally be home.” He says he is always helping people look for words that help them articulate what is already inside them. When you find your purpose, you feel like you are home.

Nick’s purpose has driven him to write, and he will soon publish a book called Leading from Purpose. The process of writing is causing him to think even more deeply, and he invited me into his thoughts. He told me our purpose is already wired in; our task is to find it. If we do not find our purpose, we cannot lead from it. When we find it, we awake, we become conscious and aware. In gaining this awareness, we transform. With a new perspective, we gain a sense of meaning and we take accountability. We feel empowered and we gain an increased desire to create and contribute.

When we live in our purpose, we create “good stress.” Instead of living in the retreat response, we live in the challenge response, moving forward, learning, and growing as we seek to create. As we do, we take on a paradoxical quality. Purpose gives us the strength to continue in uncertainty and it gives us vulnerability that comes with doing so. When we are both strong and vulnerable, we have the courage to present our authentic self.

Nick says all of this seemingly personal stuff has implications for organizations. People with a genuine purpose see the potential in others and they seek to link the others to the collective purpose. In every interaction, they are linking the people to the purpose, and when they succeed, “magic happens.” The need for control declines because the people begin to lead themselves. The organization begins to learn and grow.

I asked Nick how he goes about the process of helping people find their purpose. He said he helps them examine their “magical moments in childhood,” their “crucible stories,” and their “life passions.” As people share these, Nick listens deeply and helps them look for the threads.

The moment someone finds their purpose, there is an explosion of discovery and everyone else lights up. “As they listen to the words, everyone in the room gets a tingling in their body.” Nick says, “The test is this question; ‘Does the curious little boy or girl in you suddenly show up? If not, you have not found your purpose.’”

Nick made an interesting observation: “I have studied every religion. I have a network of friends filled with people who are spiritually disciplined or military folks who are members of the Special Forces. I think spiritual discipline and military discipline produce people of higher purpose. Because they are pursuing something bigger than self, they are willing to do the hard thing rather than the easy or the wrong thing. Purpose exposes your integrity gaps; it lets you know the score. Purpose does not let you take a vacation. It will not let you go. It pulls you into the next crucible. Eventually, you begin to see the next crucible as a gift.”



  • What does this mean? “Eventually you begin to see the next crucible as a gift.”
  • What is your highest personal purpose?
  • What is the highest purpose of your unit?
  • How can we use this passage to create a more positive organization?


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