Of the three personal stories Steve Jobs shared in his commencement address at Stanford in 2005, I felt focused on the last one in my purpose coaching. It represents both my own journey and the core of what I bring to my clients.
He said, “Have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition. Somehow they know what it is you are to become.” This advice counters the popular mythology of the supremely independent persona that many Americans harbor these days, “I don’t need any one to help me,” and “I’ll be rescued by …(some thing, somebody, some “miracle.”).
Instead, Jobs is referring in a vague way to what millions and millions of Americans are asking: How can I live my life with a clear purpose that is all my own?
Not just our economy but in our culture as a whole, so many of our institutions are failing our former understanding of how life is supposed to be, how it is meant to proceed, what is it’s purpose, humanly speaking. Our life line used to lie on the path from learning and education to productivity to stability to security to rest and peace. Practically the only industry that offers this way in our post-modern society is health care. Doctors and nurses and medical technicians caring for a sickly population and the Baby Boomer generation beset by the infirmities of aging cannot escape their need for drugs, therapy and surgery. Good for their careers, not so for we others.
When Jobs spoke in 2005 conditions for prosperity at least appeared more promising, depending on one’s economic philosophy regarding debt,taxes and borrowing. We know now that even back then the economy was beginning to falter because of the misguided ambitions of a small group of people.
Now Americans universally, from rich to poor, are asking how to make sense of our decline and lasting recession crisis. What will explain it? What is going on?! Now what am I to become?
The way out of our mess is individual and collective, but it begins with the leadership of the individual, the person who look into their pain and seeks to reform him/herself. Life Coaching has this power as a late growth industry. It operates at its core on the “meant to,” and the “supposed to” factors that lie deep within humans.
Jobs said even death itself is life’s greatest gift to us because it challenges us to not waste time and to expect ourselves and our society to move forward, to progress, to evolve for the betterment of all. I call this propensity the “Wisdom Gene” in us. Its undeniability is the “still small voice” within us. It holds a power like a nuclear pellet to aim us always toward an ultimate values , what is absolutley important to us. we can say it if we are asekd and we can see it in our everyday choices and activities. Purpose defines us. It is the immortal or the eternal to which we connect viscerally and profoundly, the supreme quality of a life led courageously day to day, and even past the point of death. Purpose is writ large in our legacy. It holds the idea that we leave something behind. Purpose tells how we raised our children and did or did not give them a legacy of hope and self confidence to ‘”be whatever they choose.” That’s the power that Americans feel so disconnected from today. My children feel it and it leaves me sad at times. I fight against that for them continuously.
My coaching operates on the belief that, “within our questions lie our answers,” a key message of the Wisdom Gene. It is my paraphrase of Jobs wisdom that day in 2005. Of many ways to hear its wisdom, coaching is I think the best supported way to move into the answers, actions that create positive belief without waiting for others’ rescue or the curse of thinking one has to save oneself all by oneself. Let the example of Jobs words and life-well-lived-but-too-short move us forward.