Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Our individual purpose

In my July 21 blog I outlined the reasons why we are here, as mankind. Our purpose as human beings. Our individual purpose underpins our general purpose. Yet I notice that people are struggling with their individual purpose. It’s rather difficult for an individual to recognise his/her purpose and it’s even more difficult to ask others about our purpose.

For decades I didn’t wonder about my purpose at all. I suppose that I didn’t make time for wondering about it as its priority wasn’t high, back then. Such a question gets priority – and actual relevance – at life altering moments. Before that moment the answer – to that seemingly irrelevant question – seems obvious: your job, your family, your study, your sport.

Life altering moments have the nasty habit that these obvious answers are no longer obvious. That does not imply that these obvious answers were wrong, even with the knowledge of hindsight. It only means that these obvious answers are no longer relevant in our altered life. Finding our new purpose isn’t that simple, especially in comparison with our previous – seemingly obvious – purpose.

Nowadays, I feel that my purpose is helping others, and as many as possible by writing these blogs. Some have said to me that my purpose in life is giving (e.g., time, help, advice) while not expecting anything in return. Yet, my LinkedIn profile still states “CFO” although I do expect that this 3 letter acronym will disappear someday. It will then just state consigliere (adviser, counselor) and probably also writer. Giving advice, help and opinions to others brings a deep sense of purpose. In that context, my original profession (auditor) makes a lot of sense. Basically, I went from a business to a personal level. And I know that I’m good at both. It comes naturally.

Our individual purpose is usually much closer to us than we think or assume. It may well be so close under our nose that we actually have a problem seeing/recognising it. It’s like a blind spot to us. Moreover, I suppose that we all expect something “big” and thus we think “big” when it comes to our individual purpose. That mind game that we play ourselves can easily become a major disappointment or disillusion in our life when that “big” purpose cannot be found.

In essence, each individual human purpose is in helping others. Some of our contributions leave a visible trace while most go invisible. The visibility of our contributions may be even more rewarding to ourselves than to others. Our invisible contributions may however affect the lives of others beyond our imagination. All we need to do is help others, and in some cases help ourselves first. As Joan Armatrading once sang: “you would help me more if you helped yourself”. (lyrics, video, wiki)

Each of us has received a unique set of talents at birth. No set of talents is the same. We help others by using our talents on a best effort basis. One could even argue that wasting our unique talents is an implicit offense (rather than a crime or offence) to mankind. Having talent may be a burden to some. Not having talent may be unfair to others. Not recognising talent or over-qualifying talent may result in emotional distress. Coping with (a lack of) talent is a lifetime challenge.

Talent is a free gift at birth. At various moments in our life we can evaluate our use of that gift: at graduation(s), at promotion(s), at retirement and at our demise. A special – lifelong – evaluation happens while raising our children.

“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”

A quote by Leo Buscaglia (1924-1998)


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