Why Nothing You Do Away From Your Purpose is Useless in the End

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Why Nothing You Do Away From Your Purpose is Useless in the End


ver the weekend, I read a Facebook Post by a great visionary called Fred Swaniker who is building a different kind of university across Africa. He says that the question he normally asks people across the nations is this:

“How many of you are doing a job that is exactly linked to what you studied in college/university?”

According to Mr. Swaniker, less than 10% of all the audiences he has interacted with answer in the affirmative. Well, I am not surprised. However, reading further, I noticed something about Fred’s submission that I might not necessarily resonate with. Fred says that there are three reasons why many people do not apply what they learnt is school.

Why People Don’t Apply Knowledge-Fred Swaniker

He says that the first reasons is attributed to people forgetting, the second to people changing their minds, and the third to the world changing at all times. Much as all these reasons could be valid, I submit that they are not the root cause of the problem. The problem is simple: lack of purpose and direction in life.

  • When you have purpose like Fred does, you cannot forget a thing, can you? You might forget facts and figures as Fred says, but you cannot forget a heart-felt calling. So you will keep at it.

“The only thing that is constant is change”


  • According to Fred, Universities across the world are struggling to keep up with the ever changing trends in the world. That is how life is and how it always will be. So when you get your purpose and vision, it does not mean that things will stay constant for you. Things around the world will change and so how you deploy yourself might need to change. That is why learning is a constant thing for all visionaries.

People Changing Minds

The second reason that Fred gives is the one that is interesting to me. He says that the reason why we do not use what we learnt from school is because we keep changing our minds. Today we want to be IT specialists, tomorrow we want to be Lawyers and so on. I saw that to be very intriguing at least from the angle of purpose. My personal experience is that I always wanted to be a lawyer. In fact, if all went according to my wishes, I would have turned out to be a human rights lawyer. My second best was to be a journalist. If all went according to plan, I would be deep down in media by now.

I ended up in I.T by fluke, and even then, my greatest desire was to grow to the very apex of IT. If all went according to my desires, I would be up there with the finest of them all. Unfortunately or fortunately, that did not go as planned.

No Detour is Useless

Before we can delve more into this topic, one thing that you must understand is this: nothing you go through in life is useless! Nothing. Even the STEM subjects that you were subjected to in school.  They are all useful at some point. In fact, if you struggled with STEM subjects, you might be inclined to deem them useless in your life. Unbeknown to you, these subjects helped your brain/mind to grow one way or another.

Ultimately, I have come to notice that even when we have locked our sights onto our vision in life, chances are that the path to its fruition is not necessarily straight and predicted. There are some detours that either you are forced to take or you voluntarily take depending on circumstances. It is important to strike a balance. You cannot be adamant in refusing to take some opportunities that are thrown your way by life. As Steve Jobs famously told us,

You can only connect the dots by looking back”.

  • Moses wanted to deliver his brothers but was exiled for 40 years. Chances are that he had even forgotten about his passion and purpose in life until God showed up calling him. Were those 40 years spent in the wilderness useless to Moses’ pursuit of purpose? The answer is an emphatic “No!”
  • Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class as he dropped out of Stanford University. He said:

 “If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do”.

Of course we now know that the Calligraphy class was not useless, yet it was a detour in Steve Jobs’ life.

  • Joseph in the Bible dreams of taking care of his family only for his brothers to throw him in a pit. Before he knows it, he escaped death only to be a prisoner in a foreign land in Egypt. The 17 year old boy must have forgotten all about his dream until one day he is lifted from prison to become a Prime Minister. The question is: Were all the years that he spent outside of his purpose useless? You and I know the answer to that question.

Embracing Detours as Your Pursue Purpose

Now, let’s talk about you, especially you who has already downloaded your vision and purpose. Chances are that what you are doing right now might not be full time dedicated to your purpose. Probably you are employed. Probably you are stuck in a Government sponsorship course that is not what you wanted to do. Probably you have even graduated from the self same course, and it looks as if you are being forced by life to take a different tangent in your life altogether.

My advice is simple.

1. Knowledge of your Vision is Power

First, Know your vision. Knowing what it is will give perspective to what you can do. To do this, you ought to be a seeker, a learner and a curious person. Normally, purpose is not something that you do and then you move on to something else. It is something specific that you were born to do. Knowing it is a critical aspect of your life. It would be great to figure it out as early as possible. Even if you might not figure it out early, at least it is important to understand the need for it. It is important to go on a quest for it.

2. Keep At it.

Second, never forget your purpose. In all you do, find a way to connect it to your purpose in life. You could be as helpless as Joseph was in a pit or in a prison or in servitude. I have come to learn that you might give up on purpose but purpose never gives up on you. However, in all that you do, either while taking a detour or you are stuck in something. Let the longing and the knowledge of your vision and its fruition never depart from you. Keep it alive in your heart. Keep meditating upon it day and night. Never let it go.

3. It’s OK to detour…Momentarily

Third, you might not need to be choosy. Take what comes your way for now. It is far much better to do something outside of your purpose than to do nothing waiting for your purpose to come to fruition. This small detour has millions of ways that it will help you and in the end, turn out good for your growth. You will get networks, experience, resources and wisdom in life that will be applicable to your pursuit of purpose.

4. Pour Yourself Out

Fourth, you need to give your very best to whatever assignment that is before you today. This is the greatest you could ever do outside of your purpose. In so doing it will prepare you mentally and spiritually to tackle that which is related to your purpose. Anything that you do, you must always leave a signature of life, a signature of excellence behind showing that you did it.

5. Stifle The Guilt

Lastly, do not ever think it sinful to do something outside of your purpose, especially if you are not rebelling against it. It is part and parcel of life. The only thing that you need to be aware of is that you must gravitate back to your path of purpose at the slightest opportunity. That is where the greatest fulfillment you ever needed in life will come from. The worst thing though is taking a tangent outside of your purpose and staying that way till the end. The saddest thing is never living to accomplish your God-given purpose. It is sad to you, more than you could ever imagine. It is sad to the world, more than they could ever realize. And it is sad to God, more than we could ever know.