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The Counterintuitive Trick to Finding Your True Purpose – Stephen Palmer

ripples 300x183 The Counterintuitive Trick to Finding Your True Purpose   Stephen PalmerThis is a story involving:

A. a woman struggling to define and commit to a purpose,
B. a window cleaning business,
C. George Washington,
D. water ripples and honeybees,
E. a Latin word,
F. and what you can accomplish when you choose a purpose and stay in motion.

Exhibit A: Woman Trying to Find Purpose

“But what if I pick the wrong thing to do?” she asked with sincere concern.

I’d been mentoring her to build her thought leadership platform.

She was interested in so many things that she couldn’t decide which one to focus on.

“Let me put it this way,” I said. “Anything you pick now will be wrong.”

“Now let me put it another way,” I continued. “Anything you pick now will be right.”

Exhibit B: Window Cleaning Business

I’m a writer today because I followed a prompting to start a window cleaning business nine years ago.

Following that prompting set in motion a sequence of events.

First, I gained confidence that I could earn a living outside of a job. Second, I learned how to build business systems. Third, I learned how to overcome the fear of selling.

Fourth and most important, I was put in a position where I had the freedom and income to attend seminars by Garrett Gunderson, who became my first freelance book writing client.

Exhibit C: George Washington

George Washington became the Revolutionary War general and won the war because he was a surveyor as a teenager.

At the age of fifteen, he trekked across the Virginia frontier on a surveying expedition. This “…gave him a knowledge of the frontier which later proved invaluable in launching his military career, and it enabled him to further develop the skills and the personal maturity which were essential as he advanced into adulthood,” as we learn in the book, The Real George Washington.

Exhibit D: Water Ripples & Honeybees

The 20th Century genius Buckminster Fuller coined the term “precession.”

As opposed to procession, meaning movement in a line, precession is the effect of bodies in motion on other bodies in motion.

Drop a stone in water. The direct, processional effect is the stone dropping straight down to the bottom. The indirect, precessional effect is the water ripples moving outward across the surface.

Honeybees go to work each day to gather nectar to make honey. That is their direct, processional goal. The indirect, precessional effect of their direct actions is cross-pollination — the maintenance of life on earth.

Exhibit E: Latin Word

The Latin word incido means to cut, and is the base of the words incision, excision, and decision.

Therefore, incision means to cut into something, excision means to cut out something, and decision means to cut off something.

Every time we make a decision we are cutting off possible options, which is why we struggle with making decisions.

Exhibit F: The Effect of Staying in Motion

Have you ever wondered what your life purpose is? Do you, like the woman in Exhibit A, struggle with choosing one thing to focus on?

Pick something — anything. Clearly define what you want to make happen and go after it. Doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you put your whole heart and soul into it.

Don’t wait for God to tell you what to do — He’s waiting for you to make good use of what He’s already given you.

What matters isn’t what you do today, but what ensues as a result of making a firm decision and committing to a clear purpose.

Had I not started my window cleaning business nine years ago, I never would have become a freelance writer and you would not be reading these words now.

Had George Washington not made the decision to be a surveyor at age fifteen, it’s possible that he may not have ever become our general. Ponder the consequences of that…

What is the true purpose of honeybees? It’s not what they focus their time and efforts on directly.

What is your true purpose? It may not be what you focus on now.

Anything you choose now will be wrong — meaning it won’t be your true purpose. But anything you choose now will be right — because by committing to it, your true purpose will be revealed.

Your true path in life can only be revealed as you step confidently and purposefully into the darkness of uncertainty.

Make a decision. Have the guts to cut off options and focus all your effort on one thing.

Clearly define:

  1. what you’re trying to make happen, and
  2. how you will measure success.

Now go make it happen.

Because if you don’t do that one thing today, your true purpose will never be revealed tomorrow…


stephen palmer The Counterintuitive Trick to Finding Your True Purpose   Stephen PalmerStephen Palmer is a writer and entrepreneur devoted to helping people conquer limitations, maximize their potential, and achieve true freedom.

He is a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, the founder of Life Manifestos, and the author of Uncommon Sense: A Common Citizen’s Guide to Rebuilding America.

He co-authored the New York Times bestseller, Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths that are Destroying Your Prosperity. He is also the co-author of The Conscious Creator: Six Laws for Manifesting Your Masterpiece Life.

Stephen and his wife are raising their four children in southern Utah.

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  1. THANK YOU! I am that woman! I love sooo many things and deciding on one thing indefinitely is so tragic to me. My 8 year search for mission, and NOW I have the wisdom I have been needing! Thank you so much! I feel ready to jump in now!

  2. Thanks for posting this! I read your blog pretty regularly and enjoy your posts. This topic really hits home and I have done some reading on it over the past year or two. Right in line with what you wrote are the following books to dig in deeper! A mentor recommended The Principles and Power of Vision by Myles Munroe and this was a big eye opener. Two other great books I have read on this topic since then are PAiLS by Chris Brady and Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung. All are fantastic reads if you are wondering where to start on the journey to pursue God’s purpose for your life! Thanks Stephen -

  3. Wade Harris says:

    Stephen, thank you for starting that window cleaning business and opening up your time to right this profound wisdom! I was struggling with whether to focus on school or build LIFE Leadership business, and 3 weeks ago decided to build the business in order to free up my time to do things such as this. This posting has just reassured my decision, thank you. Since I’ve made the decision to focus soley on the business it has grown a significant amount in just a couple weeks! My friend Daniel Clemons even forwarded this to me to confirm. He has an amazing blog also danielclemonsblog.com. Thanks again for your wonderful writing! God Bless

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The Counterintuitive Trick to Finding Your True Purpose – Stephen Palmer