Every Leader—in politics or religion or business, or even in the home—must ask and answer these questions: Why am I here? What’s my Purpose? What motivates me? What gets me out of bed in the morning? This may seem to some a simple question.
The answers may range from “survival” (I don’t like it but I’ve got to go to work) to “promotion” (I’ll never get that next position if I don’t show a little ambition) to “making money” (are you kidding? Isn’t this the only real Purpose any of us have?). But none of these answers satisfy real Leaders.
I’m working with a team of business executives right now who prefer this definition:
Our Purpose in this organization (and in our lives) is the on-going discovery of how we utilize our own individual strengths and talents to add value to others.
Is that wild, or what?
Here’s how they’re approaching it. Both as a team and as individuals they ask:
The Great Paradox is not a religious concept; it’s just basic human nature. “Help others, you win; help only yourself, you lose.” Selfish people are shunned and excluded and, in the end, they lose. Charitable people are welcomed and included and, in the end, they win. If our Purpose is to advance ourselves and make ourselves healthy, wealthy, and wise, and we use other people to help us achieve this, we will eventually fail. Honest! And the opposite is true as well: If our Purpose is to help others, we will be helped in the process. Like all paradoxes, it doesn’t seem true at first.
I saw this in bold print when I was a vice president of Charter Medical Corporation. We had eighty-one hospitals; each with forty beds for adolescents and forty beds for alcoholics and drug abusers. These patients needed expert care and constant attention. But it was easy for some of the top executives, who worked all day in their paneled offices, to forget the patients and focus only on making money. That was their Purpose and, in the end, they lost.
I agree with these business executives I’m currently working with: I believe our Purpose must be to channel our talents and special gifts of nature into a funnel of assistance for others. If this is our Purpose, we will never run out of things to do. It will be an “ongoing discovery.”
My Purpose in life and in business has always been to help other people to “think and analyze,” and I never seem to run out of ways to do this. I’ve done this a professor in a university and as a consultant to many businesses around this country and Europe.
Lately, I’ve focused on religion. I have some special gifts in this arena, and I know that many people here in Middle Georgia desperately want to rethink their religious beliefs. My Purpose is not to destroy their faith. On the contrary, “thinking and analyzing” will only strengthen it.
Of course, everyone doesn’t agree with my Purpose. But that’s their Purpose.
Most of you still remember Betty Hutton as Annie in the musical “Annie, Get Your Gun.” Irving Berlin wrote it way back in 1946 but it never gets old. My favorite song has always been “Doin what comes natur’lly”, where Annie explains how she and her family and friends have made it just fine out here in the country, without education or money. She sings:
“You don’t have to know how to read or write
When you’re out with a feller in the pale moonlight--
That comes natur’lly.”
Sure, Annie, it just comes natur’lly—if you’re heterosexual. But what if you’re a Lesbian? What if your “natural” sexual tendencies favor another girl—not some feller in the pale moonlight? What if you just don’t have those kinds of feelings for a man; in fact, you never did. Then what? Well, then—the movie will be banned, that’s what; it’s just not natural!
Shift the movie set to the White House. President Obama is signing another Executive Order: the room is full of people, the cameras are clicking, and millions of Americans are watching on TV. The President is sitting at the table; the document lies before him, the pen is in his hand. Now he starts to write. But stop! Obama is not “doin’ it natur’lly”. He’s doing it left-handed! Shut off the cameras quickly and change the channel to Fox News. We can’t let our children see this.
It’s my opinion (here we go again) that nobody chooses to be Gay just as nobody chooses to be left-handed. We were made that way, and if God’s the one who did the making—then God’s the one to blame. We can try all we want to make a child write with her right hand or a boy to be heterosexual but we don’t succeed very well, do we? Haven’t we tried that enough times? Didn’t every 3rd grade teacher take the pen from Jimmy’s left hand and put it in his right hand? Didn’t every Catholic priest try to talk Frank out of a long term loving relationship with John? Did it work?
We can say that left-handed people are not natural, that only right-handed people are natural, but saying it, doesn’t make is so. People used to say that left-handedness is the mark of the devil, a sign of neurosis, rebellion, and criminal activities. In fact, the word "left" in English comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "lyft", meaning broken or weak. The Latin word for "left" is "sinister".
We can say that homosexual men and women are destroying family life, but the statistics don’t back that up. People used to think that homosexuals were pedophiles, but that too has been proven false beyond a shadow of a doubt. When I was growing up, Christianity excluded all Gays and taught us how evil they were. The Catholic Church would never allow a Gay man to be a priest until the 1980’s when 20,000 heterosexual priests left to get married, and hundreds of parishes needed a priest—“even a Gay!” Many Christians—even today—still think that the six anti-gay Scripture quotes refer not just to homosexual acts, but to Gay marriage.
Life has gotten better for the left-handers. We’ve elected at least seven of them to the office of President. However, it has taken Gays a lot longer. It wasn’t till June of last year that our Supreme Court accepted same-sex marriages, and many States are still fighting it. Many clubs will not invite Gays to join, and when a local church recently published a notice inviting Gays and Lesbians, 60 percent of the parishioners left.
Living a heterosexual life has always felt “natural” to me. When I married Ann nearly fifty years ago, both of us dedicated ourselves to embracing all of the joys and the heartaches of a life-long marriage. Both of us have always felt we were made for each other. But guess what! Every Gay couple I know feels the same way. They don’t want to change any more than the left-handers want to change. They feel they were made for each other.
They’re just “doin what comes natur’lly.”