An aerial shot of the sidewalks of any major city bear an amazing resemblance to the view we get as we look down at a large ant den.
Lots and lots of tiny little bodies scurrying as fast as they can, doing what they can for as long as they can. Both are building, gathering food, and protecting their colony.
Each strikes out when attacked, at other times seems completely oblivious to the world around it. But there’s something a little depressing about thinking we’re nothing more than a bunch of insects with an insignificant or meaningless existence. Cheer up. We can be so much more! But how? Living on purpose happens when we ask the right questions, and we live larger than ourselves.
One to the most important things you and I can do to bring greater meaning to our lives, our families and our life work is this: ask the right questions.
Remember those conversations with a young child we’ve all had? Questions like “why is the sky blue?”, “do dogs dream?”, and of course, “where do babies come from?” capture the wonder and the curiosity of young minds. I wonder, where does that curiosity go and why does the wonder of this life seem to fade to a mediocre grayness as we age?
If you want to live your life on purpose, you must begin to ask the right questions. Ask questions about love, about values and character, questions about how you can make a meaningful impact on your world. Don’t be satisfied with glibly accepting the sands of time thrown in your direction. Hold those moments in your hands thoughtfully, and consider what you’re doing with the brief moments you have.
Ask how you can better your company or your profession. Ask how you can reach out to a co-worker who is struggling, and together help them succeed. Ask yourself about what experiences you want to have, places you want to see, or people you’d like to me. Ask yourself questions like:
- What is the single accomplishment I’m most proud of, or want to ultimately be proud of?
- Where do I want to visit before I die?
- What is my next big project? What’s my next adventure?
- If I could only be remembered for 3 things, what would they be? What am I doing to make that a reality?
- What is MY big question in life?
If you want to live life on purpose, it’s so critical to ask the right questions. But it’s just as important that we make this conscious decision. Today in this day, I will choose to live bigger than myself.
Life on purpose has to include more than living in a bigger house, driving a nicer car and having more prestige or power in the workplace. It’s making choices and living lives that affect our culture to make it a better place. If I’m going to live bigger than myself, I will choose sacrifice over self, and giving over getting. My life will be marked by the lives whose lives are marked by my kindness and character.
Where we once saw warning signs on the big problems in our companies, our culture and our world, now we only see a bulls eye target waiting on us to take our best shot. Unlike Don Quixote, we don’t see windmills as giants to be conquered — we see giants as old windmills that aren’t nearly as big a fight as we thought they were.
If you are brave enough to live a big life, start with more questions. Look at yourself, your family, your workplace and your community. Find places, projects or causes that could benefit from your passion and creativity. Put a face on this challenge by asking questions like:
- Who is the next person I want to bless?
- What cause in the world tugs at my heart, and what are three things I could do to help?
- Where is their conflict, need or issue at my workplace that I could make a positive difference in if I tried?
- How much money could I set aside each month to donate or help someone in need? What could I sell or give away that could change someone’s life?
So make the day you stop carrying dirt clods from one side of the ant hill to the other. Make it the day others point to and say, “What has gotten in to him/her? It’s amazing.”
Check out Zoo Life, and see if you recognize yourself.