There is a well-known quote about purpose; “At the moment of commitment, the entire universe conspires to assist you (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe).”
In the Movie, Gandhi, the central character commits to change the social context in South Africa. Shortly after a man named Charlie Andrews shows up and says he wants to join Gandhi. Gandhi accepts with little reaction. Charlie asks why Gandhi is not surprised. Gandhi gives an explanation that reflects the above quote. He indicates that when a person knows their highest purpose, and they pursue it, the commitment becomes an attractor and resources emerge.
A friend of mine took an online training class from Adobe. He told me the following story.
“In my training this week, we watched a video about fashion designer Jeremy Scott. When Scott was first making his way in the fashion world, he tried to find an apprenticeship in Paris and was rejected repeatedly. He moved there anyway and tried to break into the industry–but without much success. Still, he believed if he just got a chance to show his designs, things might change. One day, he was talking with friends about his hopes, and they offered to help. One said she could find a nightclub they could turn into a runway. Another provided neon lights to illuminate the show in a unique way. Several other friends served as the models.”
“As we discussed Scott with the class, colleagues spoke of his “effortless confidence” and how he “brought the energy.” Someone noted he had no resources but resources appeared because he was clear on his purpose. Another colleague spoke of how important it is to “know the why.” I joined in the conversation and related a story from my college years. I wanted to take a creative writing class, but the professor blocked me because I wasn’t an English major. I decided to start my own writing group, and as I pressed forward, resources appeared. A friend with graphic design skills made posters I could use to advertise the group. A professor sponsored me so we could use a classroom in the evenings. Other people interested in poetry came out of the woodwork to join the group and together we created a weekly group that workshopped and eventually performed poetry. As I finished my story, I repeated something I’ve often heard you say, Bob: when we clarify our purpose, resources appear.”
“The discussion moved on to other subjects. A couple hours later, as class was ending, I stayed on the Zoom call to read a comment in the sidebar. As I did, a colleague from another country said something like, “Hey, who are you? You seem to have such a gift for telling stories. I went online and stalked you on LinkedIn!” Another colleague said, “I did too!” I was surprised by this unexpected salvo, and we ended up having a post-class conversation that lasted 20 minutes or so. I found it interesting that even in sharing a story about purpose opening up resources, I attracted unexpected new relationships and resources.”
- The first quote suggests that purpose has attractive power. Why do people of high moral development, like Gandhi, begin to believe that purpose attracts resources?
- Why does examining our own past experiences, like creating a poetry class, shape our present perspective and lead us to speak for purpose?
- Why did two of the students invest the energy to look up my friend? Does this say anything about the attractive power of purpose?
- How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?