A discouraged young doctor in one of our large cities was visited by his father who came from a rural district. "Well, son," he asked, "How are you getting along?" "I'm not getting along at all," was the reply. The old man's countenance fell, but he spoke courage and patience and hope. Later in the day he went with his son to the free dispensary. He sat in silence while twenty-five poor unfortunates received help. When the door had closed upon the last one, the old man burst out, "I thought you told me you were doing nothing. Why, if I had helped out twenty-five people in a month, I would thank God that my life counted for something." "There isn't any money in it, though," objected the son. "Money!" the old man shouted. "What is money compared with being useful to your fellow men?"
saw a very powerful poem about a Sunday School Teacher who wanted to give up. Let me share with you here how it ends. It's tear-jerking, at least for me. Now, I am sure that you might thing that this post is heavily religious and you would want to log out...I urge you to stay put for a minute...you can translate these religious anecdotes to virtually any area of your life. So here goes the poem:
My Turn in the Nursery
Last Sunday was my turn in the nursery to work.
My heart wasn't in it; my feelings were hurt.
A child from its mother did not want to part
And it cried a lot with its broken heart.
I prayed that soon the hour would end,
That I would relax-no more children to tend.
Soon the hour was over; it felt good to be free.
I said, "Once a month was too much for me!"
The very next Sunday as I sat in the pew
Heard a very good sermon, but visitors were few.
But down came a woman and her soul was saved.
She was the mother of that crying babe!
Then it dawned on me that I had been a part
Of one being saved-giving God her heart.
From that day on I would never dread
Working in the nursery while souls are fed.
How many people out there are making impact in society but give up when they harshly judge themselves? The truth of the matter is that at times we get discouraged. At times we look at some numbers and statistics and they just kick the wind out of our sails.
- We look around and we cannot see any financial gain
- We look around and we cannot see any clout gained
- We look around and we cannot see any improvement in our reach and market share
- We look around and we see our biological clocks ticking
- We look around and we see other people prospering beyond compare
- We look around and we see our daily gains would take a hundred years to finally give what we are looking for.
Yes, we have been putting in a shift as far as our life purpose is concerned, but things just do not seem to measure up. The one thing about your purpose is the same thing about goals: if you have not created a daily system for them, life becomes a daunting task. I think one of the most quoted people on my block is Viktor E. Frankl. Let me quote him once more and bring this discussion into perspective:
“Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself".
A few weeks ago, watched with pleasure Oprah's speech that seemed to be at a graduation of some sorts. She narrated what I have shared here before about legacies...and by extension about purpose. In that speech, Oprah narrates how her mentor Maya Angelou told her that Oprah had no way of knowing what her legacy will be at the end of the day. Oprah was thinking that the school she built in South Africa would be her legacy. That could have been a trap. Suppose the school is rocked with scandals? Would that count as a legacy? Suppose the school was faced out by the powers that be?
In focusing on the school, Oprah was building a dangerous tent that would hinder her from doing other things. The one thing that you need to do about your Legacy is to let it be...do what you can do now as passionate as you are. Legacy comes after you are gone. Some of the things that you are doing in terms of purpose today might feel like useless. You have no clue that those would be the very best things you ever did for the human race. So keep at it and stay faithful.
1. Stop looking to see if you are leaving a legacy now
There is so much to do today. Do not stop doing what you are doing to test and see what impact you are making. It is not your part to gauge your legacy. It is for your grandchildren and those who come after them. For now, do what matters to you regardless of how you feel.
2.Stop judging your efforts today because of lack of impact.
Same thing as above. Legacy is not a function of a one off action. Legacy though is a function of an accumulation of purpose inspired actions for more than half of your life. It is who you are, what impact you are leaving and whom you are raising to come after you. So keep at it.
3. Stop being discouraged
It is easier said than done, I know. However, as long as you are on purpose, as long as you are doing what matters to you, there is not cause for alarm. I have said it again and again and I will say it here too:If you have discovered your purpose, you cannot die until it is done.
4. Find what you can do as your purpose and go after it with reckless abandon.
Of course you will wonder whether you are on the right path, but you would rather be doing something than nothing. It is your action today that will give you feedback to correct tomorrow...thereby getting closer and closer to where you are supposed to be. Be recklessly abandoned to your purpose...daily do something around it.
5. Fight with all your might to keep the consistency and the momentum.
If you break your focus even for a day, you will need greater force to come back up. So it is a fight of consistency and momentum. That is why today you have to live above this discouragement. Keep at it.
"When the final books are balanced and closed, the greatest tribute anyone could receive would be: They were useful! Someone needed them! And what greater ambition could a person entertain than to be needed, to be useful.
Wait! But what happens to my numbers? We have shared extensively about the importance of your personal statistics and numbers. In fact, those who are seriously judging themselves and getting discouraged need to read that article on numbers. I bet you are discouraged because you do not have facts about your impact. You probably are not tracking your daily routine...and that is why you have no inspiration or challenge to work with.
The numbers that you should be tracking are now part and parcel of a system that you have created. So you do not look at numbers at the end of the month (money), you look at your numbers each day (gauging your growth, productivity and improvement daily).
That my friend is the key of staying inspired when other standards of gauging your impact seem to let you down. But wait, there is another key. The fact is that the many people that you are making an impact in life might not even know the extent of your effect in their lives. It is the Almighty who does. This is where faithfulness is critical as faith is. Faith works better in the dark...and faithfulness comes full circle during times of discouragement.
My brother/sister, once you have discovered your purpose, stay faithful. Stay at it. Do not turn to the left or to the right. Stay grounded with it. Stay faithful even if discouraged. Soon enough, you will get to a tipping point, where all your obscurity now becomes the gold that was forming in the dark places.
The story is told of a heavy bronze bell that had sunk into a river in China. The efforts of various engineers to raise it had been of no avail. At last a clever native priest asked permission to make the attempt on the condition that the bell should be given to his temple. He then had his assistants gather an immense number of bamboo rods. These are hollow, light, and practically unsinkable. They were taken down by divers, one by one, and fastened to the bell. After many thousands of them had been thus fastened, it was noticed that the bell began to move, and, when the last one had been added, the buoyancy of the accumulated rods was so great that they actually lifted the enormous mass of bronze to the surface. You may think your bamboo rod is too small and light to make any difference, but it is necessary in God's sight to help in lifting souls to God and to lend strength to the others.