Like so many others, I have thought a lot about “what is my purpose in life?” And like many, I have struggled with this. In my 20’s, when I thought about my “why,” I associated my purpose to my career or a job title. As I became a father and as I get older, purpose now becomes clearer, but still not easy.
Always seeking to gain purpose, I read:
- “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren http://purposedriven.com/
- “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek https://startwithwhy.com/
Books and examples from others were helpful, but I still struggled with “am I doing what I am supposed to be doing?” Recently, I started reading Michael Hyatt’s “Living Forward” book https://livingforwardbook.com/. It is a good practical tool for those of us wanting more control of life through planning. These are all good resources and they have been helpful to me in different seasons of my life.
There are different ways for us to gain clarity of purpose in life. I have heard several times in my faith journey that there are “Crockpot Christians” and there are “Microwave Christians.” “Crockpot Christians” are those who have been raised in a church community and don’t have one single epiphany moment of coming to faith, but continually learn more about their faith over a long period of time. “Microwave Christians” are those people who have one or a handful of life experiences that completely change their perspective in an instant. For me, my purpose has developed into more of a crockpot style than microwave fashion. I seem to develop slowly and take a long time to get there!
How I found my Why?
Like my perspective, my purpose continues to develop and evolve. There was, however, a defining moment when my purpose took shape. Here is a post on the life events that helped me find my why: https://www.kevinheikes.com/journey-to-my-story/
Most vividly, it was four days after my 4th stroke and the birth of my second daughter. It was a Sunday at Shawnee Mission Medical Center and I was preparing for open heart surgery first thing the next morning. Danielle and I had been thinking about our Will for years but had never solidified the details and now the doctors wanted to ensure it was completed before the operation. I also couldn’t face the possibility of leaving Danielle and the girls without a plan if something happened to me on that operating table. Luckily we had a lawyer friend, Liz Rowe, who willingly came to the hospital that Sunday afternoon to draft our Will with us. As Danielle and I worked painstakingly through the legalese and details, thinking about the unthinkable, what was important to me became abundantly clear. My legacy and what I passed on was NOT going to be based on what I had “accomplished”.
What three things did I think about most while writing my Will?
Faith – Something about those words “final wishes” pushed me to lean on my faith and think about peace and understanding. There are things outside of my control and I have to have faith in my Lord and His will be done. I carry the Serenity Prayer with me as a constant reminder:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Others – As with most parents, I just kept thinking about my kids, my wife, and my extended family. I was thinking about “life experiences” as we began to talk about what we wanted to include in our Will. Who would teach my daughters how to fish? Or coach their basketball teams? I even thought who would walk them down the aisle when they get married?
What difference had I made – I began to think back over 32 years and thought:
- “Have I made a difference in the world?”
- “Have I made the people around me better because of something I said or did ?”
- “Did I leave the world better than I found it?”
As these ideas continued running through my mind, I thought – – – I can’t waste this opportunity. I was thinking more clearly and intentionally than ever before in my life and I wanted to capture the feelings and ideas that were running through my head.
Moving from “me” -> “we”
As you can see, much of this thought and transformation was about me – Kevin. I got so wrapped in what I needed to accomplish and what was going on in my life, that my family became my second priority. As I was beginning the process of working with an Executive Coach. I connected with Brandon Schaeffer from Five Capitals and at that point, thanks to Brandon’s perspective and coaching skills, the focus changed! My wife and I BOTH started couple’s coaching that was centered around our family. One of the main takeaways from this session was shifting my “why” and “purpose” from Kevin to HeikesINC.
Two outputs we created in collaboration with Brandon included our family vision and mission statement
The reality is that while I started to have more clarity around my “why,” I began to write my “story.” I now realize that this experience, and the resulting lessons, have taken a lot of time to really sink in (remember, I seem to develop slowly and take a long time to get there!). NO, I didn’t get by book written six months post surgery, but I have talked to so many people about the eventual outcome. Eventually, through the ongoing process of journaling and blogging, I will have the material to write a book about my “why” and how I got there. In the meantime, the process I am going through now is exactly where I need to be spending time. I am learning about myself and I am learning about others and their walk in life.
Life purpose has been a process for me. It is not complete and with each day, it evolves; just like my perspective and outlook.
I believe that being intentional with regard to our purpose will help our family make every step count.