FOCUS: Purpose

DISCIPLINE: Personal Mastery, Mental Models, Systems Thinking

“Purpose is what gives life a meaning.”
— Charles Perkhurst


To live a life on purpose means we use our natural gifts and talents, usually in a way that ripples out to benefit a larger world. If you have found yourself wanting more meaning in your life, or asking, “Is this all there is?” you are probably yearning to uncover your purpose.

Fortunately, we seem to be born with a purpose, so we don’t have to create it. We just have to uncover it. Our purpose is not a goal. It is a direction, and we never “arrive” – we just know we are “on” or “off” purpose. We feel it in our bones. Purpose gets us up in the morning and sustains our energy.

Many, maybe even most, of us want to live a meaningful life, a life filled with purpose, but we put off finding the time and making the effort to uncover our purpose. We get distracted, thinking that material success will give us meaning, fulfillment and a sense of who we are. It seldom does. When we uncover our purpose we get a larger vision of ourselves and a clearer sense of how we fit in the world. Purpose brings out the best in us and makes difficulties easier.


  • My dad, Leon Eakes, is a wonderful example of how living a life on purpose can be expressed throughout life. A strong purpose in his life is to continually improve himself and others through learning and education. He worked his way through college with many small, entrepreneurial jobs. As a Naval officer in WWII, he encouraged the men on his ship to use the GI bill and go to college. Many did. Just last year he received a letter from one of those men thanking him for a wonderful life. Before my dad’s influence, he had never considered going to college. When he wrote, he’d just retired from a 50+ year career as an engineer. When my siblings and I were growing up, our going to college was assumed and supported. When various of our friends had financial difficulty continuing in school, my dad quietly made loans available. Many people stayed with my parents while going to school. My dad, a business man, subscribed to and read the first of the business books, always learning, improving himself, and passing on his wisdom. At 94, my dad continues to make a generous contribution to a scholarship fund at the University of Pacific each year. And at Oak Creek, his assisted living residence, he is an active cheerleader for many of the aides. He encourages them to become registered nurses or therapists of some kind…learn more, use their gifts and talents to the fullest. I suspect this strong purpose of my dad’s has something to do with his remaining so mentally sharp!
  • Allison Rich's glorious portraits breathe. When I first saw them I was nearly speechless. The eyes seem to move and change in the light. The nuances of color on faces make the people 3-dimensional. I asked her how she makes this magic with watercolors. She described her technique: she meets the person, photographs them repeatedly from various angles, in different environments. At that initial meeting, she mixes colors for the face. Sometimes it takes 30 pigments. She sketches the person. Then the portrait begins. She looked radiant as she described this process, concluding simply "I've come to know my purpose in life is to bring people's spirits to life in paintings."

Coaching Tips to Help Uncover Purpose

  • Describe in writing 2-3 times in your life when you did something that left you feeling deeply fulfilled or satisfied.

  • Reread what you’ve written, asking, “What are the similarities? What themes repeat? How might this give clues to my purpose?”

  • Get help in discovering your purpose by reading one of these excellent books:

    • Liberating Greatness, the Whole Brain Guide to an Extraordinary Life, by Hal Williamson and Sharon Eakes

    • Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction, by Laura Berman Fortgang

George Bernard Shaw had it right when he said,

This is the true joy in life – the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.


Please join me for a 45-minute telegathering to explore purpose. Call Tuesday, July 10 at noon Eastern (11:00 a.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. MT, 9:00 a.m. Pacific) 1-641-678-3400 x912 No need to register…just call at that time!

Read an excerpt from Liberating Greatness, the Whole Brain Guide to an Extraordinary Life, the book Hal and I wrote, at

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

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720 Maple Lane, Sewickley, PA 15143
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