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home | Recommended Reading | Whats the Best Motivator? The Power . . .

What's the Best Motivator? The Power of Purpose

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What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Have you ever really thought about that question before?

Why do you do the job you do and work for the school/business you work for?

Many people superficially think of the paycheck first. But with so many coaches willingly working overtime for little or no pay, there are more complex and important reasons than simply - "It helps pay the bills."

The answer to the critical life question of what motivates you is essential for you to examine. For the answer focuses you on your priorities and fuels you to fulfill them.


The most powerful, deep-seated, and enduring motivator is the Power of Purpose. Simply put, you want to feel that what you do is important and has a sense of significance.

Do you feel like what you do matters? Do you feel like you are making a significant contribution to something greater than yourself?

In an excellent book by Richard Leider called The Power of Purpose, Leider writes "Purpose is the conscious choice of what, where, and how to make a positive contribution to our world. It is the theme, quality, or passion we choose to center our lives around. Once we discover our gifts and what moves us, the whole world takes on a new energy. Our life becomes a thing of spiritual significance."

In his book The 8th Habit, Stephen Covey writes, "Deep within each one of us there is an inner longing to live a life of greatness and contribution - to really matter, to really make a difference." (28)

As an example, I feel very fortunate to have found my purpose. I have discovered that my purpose in life is to help develop the world's next generation of leaders.

I hold this mission sacred as the ultimate purpose of my work and my life. Each day I wake up knowing that I am called to help coaches and athletic administrators develop college and high school student-athletes into leaders who will make a real difference - not only on their teams in the short-term, but more importantly, in the real world for the next 40 years.

It is the primary reason I created a non-profit organization called Student-Athletes Leading Social Change (SALSC). SALSC's mission is to catalyze and connect student-athletes who want to change the world. See

I feel compelled to complete this purpose and positively influence and inspire as many young leaders as I possibly can before the clock runs out on my life - whenever that might be.

This profound sense of purpose focuses my energy on what is important as well as provides me with an unwavering sense of mission and meaning in my work.

What is your purpose? What were you put on this earth to do? Have you discovered your purpose and embraced it?

Leider writes, "Purpose means each of us following a deeper call. It means living inside the question, "Am I making a living doing the work I love to do?" It means being able to say, "Does my life matter?"

Covey says, "The most important vision of all is to develop a sense of self, a sense of your own destiny, a sense of your unique mission and role in life, a sense of purpose and meaning. When testing your own personal vision first ask yourself: Does the vision tap into my voice, my energy, my unique talent? Does it give me a sense of 'calling,' a cause worthy of my commitment?"

Many coaches realize their impact goes far beyond merely teaching their athletes sport skills. The true passion and purpose for most coaches is to teach their athletes valuable life skills that will serve them and many others throughout the rest of their lives.

Beyond winning, it is this deeper sense of purpose that motivates many coaches and transforms them from coaches of success to coaches of significance. As Duke's Coach K says, "If the only reason I coached was to win college basketball games, my life would be pretty shallow. I coach not only because I love it, but because I have the chance to teach and interact with young people."

Charles Handy, in The Age of Paradox, wrote: "We get our deepest satisfaction from the fulfillment and growth and happiness of others. It takes time, often a lifetime, to realize this. Parents know it too well, as do teachers, great managers, and all who care for the downtrodden and unfortunate."

If you (like so many others) are still searching for your passion and purpose in life, I highly recommend you invest the time to read Richard Leider's The Power of Purpose, Stephen Covey's 8th Habit, and/or Richard Quinn's Deep Change.

Without a doubt, the books will help you discover and harness the power of purpose in your life so that you too can find and enjoy a deeper sense of meaning and motivation.


The Power of Purpose - Richard Leider

Purpose is the reason a person was born. From birth to death, each of us is on a quest to discover that reason. Many never do. Yet, our world is incomplete until each one of us discovers our purpose. Purpose is that deepest dimension within us- our central core or essence - where we have a profound sense of who we are, where we came from, and where we're going. Purpose is the quality we choose to shape our lives around. Purpose is a source of energy and direction. (p. 1)

Purpose is the recognition of the presence of the sacred within us and the choice of work that is consistent with that presence. (p. 11)

When we are moved by something, many things previously felt to be important fade in significance. If our purpose is genuine enough, it involves us deeply and orders all areas of our life. We begin to eliminate what is irrelevant and what is so much clutter. A simplification takes place, and we achieve a clarity as to what we're about. We don't need to pretend to be what we're not. What is of real importance stands out more clearly. (p. 32)

The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that's bigger than they are - that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth. (p. 41)

Hearing a calling - a work mission that goes beyond oneself - has many productive consequences. It provides us with a source of deep energy. We are clear as to how others may benefit from our efforts. It provides principles for our conduct. It provides a focus for spending our precious time meaningfully. (p. 81)

We may not always see the results our work has on others, but we know deep down that there is some contribution, large or small, to the bigger picture. We know that we made a difference, that our life mattered. (p. 140)

The 8th Habit - Stephen Covey

Voice lies at the nexus of talent (your natural gifts and strengths), passion (those things that naturally energize, excite, motivate and inspire you), need (including what the world needs enough to pay you for), and conscience (that still, small voice within that assures you of what is right and that prompts you to actually do it). When you engage in work that taps your talent and fuels your passion-that rises out of a great need in the world that you feel drawn by conscience to meet-therein lies your voice, your calling, your soul's code. There is a deep, innate, almost inexpressible yearning within each one of us to find our voice in life. (p. 5)

Deep within each one of us there is an inner longing to live a life of greatness and contribution - to really matter, to really make a difference. (p. 28)

All of us can consciously decide to leave behind a life of mediocrity and to live a life of greatness - at home, at work and in the community. (p. 29)

The power to discover our voice lies in the potential that was bequeathed us at birth. Latent and undeveloped, the seeds of greatness were planted. We were given magnificent "birth-gifts" - talents, capacities, privileges, intelligences, opportunities - that would remain largely unopened except through our own decision and effort. Because of these gifts, the potential within an individual is tremendous, even infinite. We really have no idea what a person is capable of. A baby may be the most dependent creation in the universe, and yet within a few short years, it becomes the most powerful. (p. 54)

Deep Change - Robert Quinn

When we find a unique purpose, life takes on a greater meaning. We can transcend the actual because we envision the possible. There is a way that the universe needs to be seeded and only we can make that contribution. We have a reason to live that is internally driven and other focused. Having such a purpose provides intensity of effort and gives us the courage to confront external sanctions and fight for survival. (p. 109)

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