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“The great and glorious masterpiece of man is to know how to live to purpose” (Michel de Montaigne).
PURPOSEFULNESS INCLUDES TWO DIFFERENT, BUT EQUALLY IMPORTANT, IDEAS. First, the purposeful person is one who is guided by deliberate intentions and goals, rather than the impulses of the moment. But second, the purposeful person follows his or her intentions with determination and perseverance. In other words, if we’re purposeful, we plan our work (deliberate intent) and then work our plan (determination). Both of these parts of purposefulness are essential. Neither can be left out if we expect to get good results.
The beauty of purposefulness is that it gives us something good to work toward. Although most of us spend a good deal of time trying to move away from certain things, there really is a greater power that comes from having something positive that we passionately want to move toward. And purposefulness gives us exactly that. It identifies the thing we most deeply want to say “Yes” to, and then helps us move in the direction of that vision. Purposeful people aren’t just against things; they’re for things — and they’re powerfully for them.
To be helpful, however, purposefulness must balance two traits that are sometimes hard to balance: steadfastness and flexibility. We need to pursue our purposes with determination, certainly, but we also need the wisdom to know when to modify our intentions, or even to change them altogether. Purposefulness shouldn’t make us pigheaded.
William Arthur Ward listed the following as the Four Steps to Achievement: “Plan purposefully, prepare prayerfully, proceed positively, and pursue persistently.” Something like that four-step program will have to be adopted if we’re going to contribute in a worthy manner to the world in which we live. In the absence of purposeful planning and execution, we’re at the mercy of our external circumstances. If we don’t live deliberately and intentionally, we can’t expect much more than to be tossed back and forth by every breeze that blows. Those around us should be able to expect more of our behavior than that. They should find us to be people who know what our destination is and are purposefully moving toward it.
“The secret of success is constancy to purpose” (Benjamin Disraeli).