Mapping the Purpose Field
In a world rapidly transitioning from materialism to a deeper, more spiritual understanding of existence, a profound awakening is taking place. It is the awakening of living a life guided by a deeper purpose, creating an enormous purpose wave. This shift is not just about changing how we see the world; it's about rediscovering and reinventing ourselves in the most authentic way possible. Are you ready to explore your role in this transformative movement?
Welcome to the story of the Purpose Sages Summit, a convergence point for those seeking to navigate and contribute to the evolving field of purpose. This event is a culmination of wisdom, experiences, and visions from individuals who have dared to delve deep into the essence of purpose. At the heart of this summit lie two essential questions: “What is purpose work?” And “What is your role in the purpose movement?” Whether you're new to the concept of purpose or have spent years exploring its depths, the Purpose Sages Summit offers a unique opportunity to connect, reflect, and align with your true calling.
In this blog post, we'll unveil the genesis of the Purpose Sages Summit, which began with an exercise in mapping the field of purpose. This task was not just an academic endeavor; it was a deeply personal journey of discovery and self-reinvention. For many of us, including myself, stepping into the world of purpose was a leap into the unknown. Without the conventional validation of a specialized degree on the subject or decades of experience, we ventured into this field driven by passion and curiosity. The first step was to engage with Global Purpose Leaders, a collective of experienced and insightful individuals that engage in Purpose Work. This is how it happened.
Stepping into the world of Purpose Work
“I think you would enjoy being part of Global Purpose Leaders (GPL)” said Gabriel Grant, a friend and colleague, when I shared what my book was about. That was a momentous door he opened for me that strongly influenced the trajectory in the years to come. At the time I wrote “Life Re-Vision”, I was not connected to communities focusing on Purpose Work. To be honest, I didn't even know my book was part of the purpose field. Slowly, I gained more context about this emerging field of purpose, a rich learning journey I want to share with you in this blog.
When I entered GPL, I quickly learned the field of purpose was the appropriate home for my life’s work. This was enhanced by beautiful relationships of mutual exchange that I formed in this network of purpose practitioners, each with their own speciality. Susan Lucci, and her genius as a community weaver, orchestrated a book club with one of the purpose giants, Bill Plotkin. He introduced the beautiful notion of “vision ecologies”, which led to my asking the question: “What could we do together as purpose workers in service of a larger movement that we couldn’t do alone?”
With Susan's support and the resonance of a small group of GPL peeps, we embarked on an initiative called the Purpose Mapping Exercise. We aspired to map the purpose initiatives to work more generously and in coordination to nourish our practices and amplify our impact, together across the emergent field. The group included Susan Lucci, Brandon Beele, Holly Woods, Dena Wiggins, and Andy Swindler. All of whom are current or future speakers of the Purpose Sages Summit.
We set the goal to “reveal and weave a web of purpose practitioners required to cross the chasm into the new version of being human”. Ultimately, we dreamed of addressing a massive challenge with the underlying intention:
The challenge of massively awakening purpose for a new chapter of humanity that has a presence on the planet that is environmentally sustainable, socially just, and spiritually fulfilling. The impact of this awakening is the liberation of human potential, healing and soul activation contributing to the communal awakening and transformation of how we gather.
From these intentions, we embarked on a collaborative mapping exercise. It started with sharing our personal visions and missions – a powerful exercise in vulnerability and clarity. This process helped us identify our 'Purpose Elders' and 'Sages' – those individuals whose wisdom and insights have significantly shaped our understanding of purpose. I was guiding the mapping exercise, being consistent with the Life Re-Vision methodology, of honoring the sages of a new thematic territory we enter, such as purpose, as a way to participate in a mindful and connected way.
The past, present, and future of Purpose Work
The most notable outcome of our collaboration was the creation of foundational documents, each a cornerstone in understanding purpose. 'Temporal Attunement: Past, present, and future of Purpose' is one such document, providing a historical and future perspective of Purpose Work. It offers a comprehensive understanding of the field's evolution and emerging trends. We co-created the documents in real time, sourcing from our diverse experiences and focus areas within the field. Here is some of what emerged.
Insights from the past of Purpose Work:
1. Ancient Greeks recognized a personal 'Daimon' or genius. Indigenous practices like soul retrieval, along with philosophical inquiries into life's purpose, have guided humanity.
2. Soul and elements like the divine feminine and masculine were integral in early human and indigenous cosmologies but were marginalized through historical developments like agriculture, Christianity, and industrialization.
3. Starting with Jung, there has been a resurgence in embracing soulful expressions through art, dance, shamanism, and nature-based practices.
4. Throughout history, different civilizations have alternated between emphasizing creative (right hemisphere) and analytical (left hemisphere) approaches to understanding life, impacting the perception of soul and purpose.
5. From the arts to business, different domains have progressively explored self-expression, vision, and mission, contributing to a broader understanding of individual and collective purpose.
Trends we see currently for the field of Purpose Work
The present moment is witnessing a significant transformation in how individuals and society as a whole perceive and engage with the concept of purpose. Here's a summary of the current trends related to purpose:
1. Shift in Work Culture and Entrepreneurship: There's a growing trend of individuals leaving traditional workforce roles to pursue entrepreneurship, driven by a desire for purpose beyond monetary gain. This shift is partly fueled by dissatisfaction with the corporate world and a yearning for more fulfilling work.
2. Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic: The pandemic has been a catalyst for many to revisit their life's purpose, leading to what's been termed the 'big shift' or 'great resignation.' This period of disruption has created conditions ripe for self-reflection and purpose discovery, triggering a surge in people questioning their career paths and life choices.
3. Evolving Consciousness and Community Engagement: A noticeable shift in the collective consciousness is occurring, with more individuals talking openly about purpose, soul, consciousness, and related concepts. There's a growing movement towards self development and mutual support, with communities organically engaging the topic of purpose and supporting members in its pursuit. Purposeful living is increasingly being integrated into various societal aspects, including education, hobbies, and family life.
4. Convergence of Science and Spirituality: People like Joe Dispenza and Institutions like the Institute of HeartMath are bridging the gap between science and spirituality, demonstrating the tangible effects of spiritual and heart-centered intentions.
5. Organizational and Systemic Evolution: Organizations are increasingly focusing on 'social purpose' and aligning their systems with the truths of the people within them. This shift is evident in the rise of Teal organizations and the incorporation of purpose into various roles and job descriptions.
6. Awareness of Barriers to Purpose: There's a growing recognition of the role of trauma and shadow aspects in hindering purposeful living. Efforts are being made to understand and heal these blockages, both at individual and collective levels.
7. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB): Social justice movements, amplified by events like the murder of George Floyd, are influencing collective purpose and awakening society to systemic issues. Also, the movement promoting inclusion generates the enabling conditions for people to feel safe in claiming their authentic identities.
8. Youth Awakening and the Need for Wisdom Guides: The younger generation is experiencing an accelerated rate of spiritual awakening. Millenials are known to seek a greater sense of purpose at work. However, there's a gap in guidance, both from parents and from supervisors and leaders. This highlights a need for wisdom transmission across generations.
9. Challenges and Resistance: Despite these positive trends, there are challenges such as spiritual bypassing and resistance to change. These obstacles highlight the ongoing struggle between evolving consciousness and entrenched patterns of avoidance and repression.
1. Mainstreaming of Purpose and Soul Work: Purpose is envisioned to become central to human existence, influencing education, governance, and societal structures.
2. Evolution of Work and Education: The focus is expected to shift towards purposeful work and learning, with organizations adapting to prioritize evolutionary purpose.
3. Healing and Transformation: Emphasis on healing trauma and fostering collective wellbeing, with purpose playing a crucial role in personal and societal transformation.
4. Technological and Social Integration: Purpose alignment in technology and business, with a focus on inclusive, purpose-driven innovation.
5. Environmental and Global Consciousness: A predicted increase in purposeful communities responding to environmental challenges, highlighting the need for collective action and healing.
In summary, the current trends and insights point towards a collective awakening to the importance of purpose, signaling profound shifts in individual self-discovery, work culture, community engagement, and societal structures. This transformation is fostering a deeper understanding of purpose, not just as an individual pursuit but as a fundamental aspect of human development and societal progression. It depicts a trajectory where the integration of purpose into personal, societal, and global contexts is not only becoming increasingly vital but is also shaping the future direction of human evolution and societal advancement.
The Purpose Altars
Another key document was the 'Purpose Altars', a series of symbolic representations of purpose. This exercise helped us transcend the abstract nature of purpose, offering a tangible, almost sacred, visualization of what purpose means and stands for. The result of this are beautiful sentences and visuals that depict purpose in a poetic way:
Purpose is the Quadsected circle / sun cross - an archetypal image found across human civilizations, representing the 4 cardinal direction, parts and the whole, a symbol of integrity and integration, embodying the pattern within
The Purpose Altars, through its rich and varied symbolism, conveys a profound understanding of purpose as an elemental force deeply woven into the fabric of human existence. It portrays purpose not just as a personal compass, but as a cosmic principle that binds individual destinies to the greater tapestry of life.
At its core, the Purpose Altars suggests that purpose is akin to a heartbeat, a rhythmic call that resonates within and guides us. It's a force that captures and nurtures possibilities, much like a dream catcher, weaving dreams into reality. It’s seen as a transformative power, turning life's obstacles and mud into the blooming lotus of enlightenment and higher consciousness. This transformation is central to the concept of purpose, indicating that our challenges and experiences are not merely hurdles, but pathways to greater self-realization and communal harmony.
Further, purpose is depicted as a sacred medicine, akin to the healing and nurturing qualities of the Bison, symbolizing resilience, community spirit, and rebirth. It embodies the integrity and wholeness represented by the Quadsected circle or sun cross, an ancient symbol reminding us of our connection to all life directions and the integral parts we play in the whole.
The altars also emphasize the visionary aspect of purpose, opening doors to unexplored possibilities and prompting a descent into the unknown depths of our being. It’s about breaking through barriers, nourishing the soul, and bringing clarity and focus to our lives. Purpose is likened to the metamorphosis of a butterfly – an incubation of our deepest selves leading to the spread of our unique gifts.
In a collective sense, purpose is seen as the glue that connects individual gifts into a greater whole. Each person is a unique puzzle piece, fitting into a larger picture, contributing to a collective quilt of purposeful gifts. Living with purpose is not just about self-fulfillment but also about contributing to something larger than oneself.
Finally, the Purpose Altar encapsulates the eternal and inclusive nature of purpose. It’s described as an evergreen force, continually alive and replenishing, a testament to the enduring and regenerative nature of purpose in our lives and the world. Purpose is both a witness to all of existence and a medicine flowing through us, meant to be shared generously. This mystical and magical dance between the known and unknown underscores purpose as a dynamic and omnipresent force, guiding humanity through the journey of life.
In essence, the Purpose Altars eloquently convey that purpose is a multi-dimensional, transformative, and unifying force in our lives, acting as a bridge between the individual and the collective, the temporal and the eternal, the mundane and the spiritual. It invites a deeper exploration and understanding of purpose, not just as a personal quest but as an integral component of the human experience, deeply connected to the universal dance of existence.
The Purpose Bookshelf
As our understanding deepened, we compiled a list of purpose sages through the ages and initiated a 'bookshelf of purpose', a collection of seminal writings in the field. These resources serve as a beacon for those new to the field and a rich source of wisdom for those already on the path.
The "Purpose Bookshelf", which I curated with support from many colleagues, is a collection of book summaries dedicated to exploring and understanding the concept of purpose from various dimensions. It is an invaluable resource for anyone on a journey to discover and embody their true purpose. Below is an overview of the thematic sections and key works included in this bookshelf:
1. Awakening Soul and Myth: This theme delves into the relationship between soul, myth, and purpose. Richard Rudd's "The Art of Contemplation" opens up avenues for deep introspection, while Murray Stein's "Principle of Individuation" explores the journey towards self-realization. Thomas Moore's "Care of the Soul" and James Hillman's "The Soul’s Code" offer insights into nurturing the soul and understanding our unique calling. Michael Meade’s works, "Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul" and "The Genius Myth," further deepen the exploration of soul, myth, and individual destiny.
2. Finding Purpose: This theme is dedicated to practical guides and inspirational stories that assist in discovering one's purpose. "Planet on Purpose" by Brandon Peele and "Designing Your Life" by William Burnett and David J. Evans provide frameworks for aligning life choices with one’s purpose. "The Three Marriages" by David Whyte and "The Great Work of Your Life" by Stephen Cope offer philosophical and poetic perspectives on living a purpose-driven life. The section also includes "The Gifted Adult" by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, "Playing Big" by Tara Mohr, "True Purpose" by Tim Kelley, "The Golden Thread" by Holly Woods, and "The Journey of Soul Initiation" by Bill Plotkin, each contributing unique insights into finding and embracing one’s purpose.
3. Purpose at Work and in Society: This part focuses on the application of purpose in professional and societal contexts. "The Purpose Revolution" by John Izzo highlights the emerging importance of purpose in the modern workforce. "One Person / Multiple Careers" by Marci Alboher explores the concept of having diverse, purposeful careers. Parker Palmer’s "The Courage to Teach" addresses the role of purpose in education, while "Leadership’s Perfect Storm" by Susan Inouye discusses purpose in the context of contemporary leadership challenges.
Each book in the Purpose Bookshelf offers a unique lens through which to view and understand purpose. Whether it's through the exploration of soul and myth, practical guides to discover personal purpose, or insights into incorporating purpose in work and societal roles, this collection serves as a comprehensive guide for anyone seeking to live a more purposeful and fulfilling life.
Following the insightful journey of mapping the field of purpose with Global Purpose Leaders, a profound realization emerged. It became clear that the next vital step was to move beyond the theoretical framework and directly engage with the wisdom of the sages themselves. This is where the Purpose Sages Summit takes its roots.
The Summit isn't just an event; it's a series of illuminating conversations between myself, as the creator, and thirty distinguished Purpose Sages. These dialogues are designed to dive deep into the realms of purpose, exploring the rich tapestries of experiences, insights, and wisdom each sage brings. This direct engagement is not just about listening; it’s about interacting with the living embodiments of purpose who have significantly contributed to shaping this field.
The Purpose Sages Summit, therefore, stands as a living, breathing extension of our initial mapping exercise – a dynamic exploration and celebration of purpose in its most tangible and transformative form. The Purpose Sages Summit is also a contribution to the Purpose Movement, which is having an increasing impact in the world. We can see evidence of this massive trend in the following:
Corporate Focus on Purpose: Many companies are shifting from being purely profit-driven to incorporating purpose as a core aspect of their business models. This is evident in corporate mission statements, sustainability initiatives, and a greater emphasis on social responsibility.
Changing Workforce Attitudes: There's a growing trend among employees, especially among younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z, who seek more than just a paycheck. They want their work to have meaning and contribute to societal good, leading to a higher value placed on purposeful work.
Consumer Behavior Shifts: Consumers are increasingly supporting brands and companies that align with their values and demonstrate a commitment to purposeful causes, such as environmental sustainability and social justice.
Educational Shifts: Educational institutions are increasingly incorporating courses and programs focused on social entrepreneurship, sustainability, and ethical leadership, reflecting a growing demand for education that prepares individuals for purposeful careers.
Rise of Social Movements: The growth and impact of various social movements around the globe, such as climate change activism, social justice movements, and mental health awareness, indicate a collective shift towards purpose and meaningful action.
Increased Focus on Mental Health and Wellbeing: There's a heightened awareness and conversation around mental health and wellbeing, indicating a societal shift towards finding deeper meaning in life beyond material success.
Purpose as an Evolutionary Agent: Our analysis highlighted that purpose is not static; it evolves and shapes societies. We are currently riding a massive wave of purpose awakening, becoming more conscious of our individual and collective callings.
Identifying Blockages to Purpose: Understanding impediments like trauma and the fragmentation of self is crucial. As we become more aware of these blockages, we can navigate them more effectively, leading to a more authentic embodiment of our purpose.
The Power of Inclusion: The diversity, equity, and inclusion movement plays a vital role. It ensures that as we declare our unique purposes, we do so in an environment that is safe, accepting, and nurturing.
Disruption as a Catalyst: Events like the COVID pandemic have disrupted patterns, prompting many to question their life paths and seek deeper meaning. This has been an unexpected catalyst in the global awakening of purpose.
The Role of Community: Engaging with a community, like the Global Purpose Leaders, provides support, insight, and collaboration opportunities. It's essential for anyone looking to explore or deepen their understanding of purpose.
A Call to Action: Finally, this journey is an invitation. What role will you play in this purpose wave? We encourage you to reflect, engage, and commit to your path of purpose. A great way is to register for the Purpose Sages Summit, an opportunity to engage with the cutting edge thinking on what is purpose and how to skillfully take on your path of purpose.