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Find Your Purpose

Sometimes you just have to reframe the question.

My wife and I recently moved from Oregon to Asheville, North Carolina. We had been thinking about moving for several years; even took a few scouting trips out to the Carolinas to get a feel for the possibilities.

Partly we were driven by our own wanderlust. As children, we both grew up as military “brats,” a label we wear with pride because we’re part of a small group of people who Morton Ender, author of "Military Brats and Other Global Nomads" referred to as modern nomads. As adults, we both had successful and fulfilling careers of our own in the U.S. Air Force. We are wired to move. Every few years we feel compelled to pull up stakes and go see what’s happening somewhere else.

Partly we were driven by a need to be closer to family. Our oldest son, an Air Force officer, and his bride are professional nomads in their own right. They are stationed in Japan and, thus, out of easy reach. Our second son is a middle school science teacher in Charleston, South Carolina. Recently engaged to a lovely young lady who was born and raised in Charleston, they appear to be locked in place for at least a few years. In the case of future grandkids, we wanted to be close enough for an easy visit, but not so close as to smother. So we moved.

We ended up in Asheville because it reminds us so much of Oregon. We are high enough in the hills to enjoy the milder weather and far enough away from the coast to avoid the hurricanes, heat, and humidity. In fact, since we’ve arrived, we’ve been surprised to regularly run into other Oregonians who have made the move for much the same reasons. Asheville reminds me of Portland in the early 1970s.

One of the upsides of relocating is that we are presented with the opportunity to see ourselves through new lenses and reframe the question. Moving to Oregon in 1971 triggered an amazing chain of life-shaping events. Will this move to Asheville be the same?

The Green Sage Café in Asheville is one of those places that exude a powerful invitation to contemplation. I was having coffee with Eli Harari, The Thinking Coach. Eli, also a recent transplant to Asheville, and I were exploring possibilities for collaboration. As we shared and explored, Simon Sinek’s exhortation to “Start with Why” came to mind. Why do we do what we do? My friend and teacher, Larry Spears, author or editor of many works on the topic of servant leadership, said that purpose “begins in the heart” and manifests itself in the way we interact with the world. Dr. John C. Maxwell, with whom I’ve been affiliated since 2013 said, “Our calling is to “Add value to people all over the world.” As I muddled through these thoughts, I also recalled a paper I wrote as a doctoral candidate at Gonzaga University’s School of Leadership Studies. We are challenged, each of us, to intentionally develop ourselves as whole persons -- intellectually, spiritually, culturally, physically, and emotionally for the express purpose of leading “lives of leadership and service for the common good.” I emerged from this conversation with a renewed sense of purpose to “train and equip leaders.”

What is your purpose? Sometimes it helps to sit back and reframe the question. Begin with these questions: What are your values? What things do you do that truly "light you up?" What makes you feel alive and engaged?

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