Dr. Robert Quinn: This is How to Lead a Purpose-Driven Life
Robert Quinn – Find Your Purpose
Dr. Robert Quinn shares timeless wisdom on how to lead a purpose-driven life designed to bring you maximum happiness.
… gives you better sex, increases your good cholesterol, gives you more friends, gives you more meaning, engagement, life satisfaction and happiness. If you have a purpose driven life, it adds years to your life. You live longer. Let me share two stories with you. Story number one. We’re interviewing one of those schoolteachers. She says, “The first year I taught was heaven. The second year I taught was hell. I had five boys that second year and they were incorrigible. There was one kid in particular, he was impossible. One day, this kid is in the doorway of the classroom, and he’s kicking and moving his arms and making noise, and I lost it.”
She said, “I’m ashamed to say these words, but I walked towards that kid with the intention of kicking him. Thanks heavens he got up and ran away. I kept walking. I went to the principal’s office. I said, ‘This is it. It’s him or me.’ The principal took the kid out.” She said, “I felt terrible, so I went to my colleagues and poured my heart out. They said to me, ‘You are not the key to every door.'” As she said those words, she burst into tears in the interview. We waited a long time. Then she looked up and said, “I hated that, those words, you can’t be the key to every door.” She said, “I decided to become the key to every door. Instead of pushing disruptive kids away, I began to seek them out. I began to bring them into my world. I read every book I could find. I kept notes. I ran experiments. I kept notes on the experiments.”
Then, she pulled herself up and said, “Today I am the key to every door. Where there’s a disruptive, troubled kid in the school, they say, ‘Give her to Miss so-and-so. She seems to know what to do with them.'” That’s a profoundly important story. It’s a story of transformative learning. When I have a higher purpose, I find the energy and the courage to go outside my comfort zone. Now, the second story is a lot closer to home. I once had a daughter. She was single, she was living in Washington D.C. she had reached that point in life where she said, “There’s not a good man left on the earth.” Then, she found one. She got really excited, relationship grew. Then one day our phone rang. She’s talking to her mother, and I know what’s going on. This guy just dumped her.
This daughter is the first born child. Many first born children share a common characteristic. If they’re miserable, they want you to be miserable too. She said, “I’m coming home this week.” I thought, oh, no, no. Her mother hangs up and says, “You’re the father. You go to the airport and pick her up.” The next day I go pick her up. She gets in the car and she doesn’t say, “Hello. How are you?” She says, “That no good, dirty … ” Five minutes later she takes a breath. I said, “Are you problem solving or purpose finding?” We’re finally pulling in the driveway. She takes another breath. I say it again. She says, “What are you talking about?” I said, “I wrote that thing to your brother about the difference between purpose finding and problem solving. I sent you a copy.”
She said, “This is the real world.” I said, “Well, I think it applies in the real world.” I then went in the house. I pull out a sheet of paper out of my file and it says, Robert Quinn Life Statement. She looks at it, and then she grows kind of quiet. She looks up and says, “When you feel bad, you read this?” I said, “No. When I feel bad, I rewrite it. It’s been rewritten hundreds of times.” She says, “Yeah, I can hardly understand some this stuff.” I said, “Yeah, it’s written to a customized audience. One person.” Then the first miracle happened. She said, “Do you think I could write one of these?” I said, “I’m sure you can.” She went in the bedroom. For a day and a half she worked on her life statement. The miracle was I did not have to suffer during that day.
She got on the plane, she flew home to D.C. A couple days pass, I get an email. She said, “He called me.” Well, this will be interesting. She said, “I wrote him this letter.” I’m reading this letter that she’s attached. It’s in incredibly vulnerable, open, honest. Then at the bottom it says, “My roommate said I can’t give this to him.” Now, that’s an interesting thing. Let’s freeze all the insensitive males in he room for now. I want to hear just from the females. Why can’t we give this letter to this guy? Because he’s crazy? Anybody who’d dump me would be crazy. That would be true. Why else? Yes, of course. I’m vulnerable. I tell him how I really feel. Dating is a marketplace. Right? It’s a transaction. You don’t tell some guy that dumped you, here’s how you feel.
Then she said, “What my roommates don’t understand is that what he thinks doesn’t matter.” Whoa, wait a minute. A few days ago what he thought caused her life to shatter. Now, she’s saying, “What he thinks doesn’t matter.” She saying, “This is who I really am. Didn’t know this a while ago. Now I know it.” It doesn’t matter what other people think. You see, when you clarify your purpose, you take back your external locus of control where you worry about what other people think and you take an internal locus. You don’t become insensitive. You don’t become rebellious. You become centered. You become powerful. Now, the here’s the interesting thing. In the next few months, she began to be promoted. Her career turned. Why? This was a dating breakup. Why is her career taking off? Because when you find purpose and meaning in what you’re doing in one area of your life, it grows in every area of your life because you are one person.
That company had a woman coming in with the same dresses on, body looked the same, but it wasn’t the same employee. This was a woman now full of leadership for the first time. When someone has that meaning and that integrity, things start to change. The research says when you give up self interested goals, where most of us are most of the time, and you take on contributive goals, you function differently. The biology changes, the though process changes, learning accelerates. You grow more. The only thing that I’m left to conclude is you and I are designed to be purpose seeking mechanisms. You’ve been shaped by life. You’ve had bad experiences and good experiences, and both the bad experiences and the good experiences are there to teach you something about you. If you look very carefully at those, you can determine what your purpose is. Every person in this room can clarify the purpose of their life, become the key to every door.