When I was younger, finding my purpose was not even a blurb on the radar. My purpose was simply to get through the end of the school-year when I was a student, and the end of the week when I was employed.
I certainly had ambition, but my ambition was driven by material needs and related to what I perceived success to be. I was driven by traditional goals—getting a good car, a nice place to live, vacations, places to see, and things of that nature.
I had been vaguely aware of a need for purpose as I grew up in a household filled with books and discussions of great leaders. I looked up to many world leaders whose lives, words, and thoughts had deeply influenced my thinking. My favorites were the great Ms—Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mandela.
Each of these people had lived and died for a purpose their entire lives revolved around. They lived their purpose on a grand scale—serving mankind, establishing equality, fighting injustice, and—my personal favorite—serving the Almighty.
It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I truly became aware of a need for purpose in my life. It was around the time my father retired. He had dedicated his entire life to serving others, living a life according to his beliefs, and often standing up for them even when the odds were stacked against him. We come from a multicultural nation and he represented the minority that had been somewhat left behind in its economic progress after our young nation achieved independence. He sought to serve the youth of the community by uniting them and raising their awareness. This became his life’s purpose.
As I thought about my father’s life, and everything he had worked for, it left in me a yearning, which at that stage was still vague. I knew I wanted to emulate my father and all the great people who inspired me.
I established a clear goal for myself—financial freedom. This goal would then create the platform for me to pursue my purpose of serving others. This two-step approach for establishing my purpose in life led me to coin a phrase, which I refer to as RYTHM–Raise Yourself To Help Mankind. Initially it was just a message to myself, something I envisioned as being emblazoned upon my shaving mirror every morning. My strategy was to raise myself to a position from which I could reach out and help others.
I realized that all these great personalities I looked up to started small and worked within the scope they had to even the odds. Mandela from his prison cell, Martin Luther King initially in his flock, and Gandhi who began his crusade when he was thrown out of a first-class train compartment in South Africa.
I started out by merely wanting to make a difference in my community. I moved to the Philippines in the mid-90s to build a network marketing business. By the end of my first year I was already experiencing more success than anticipated. I travelled far and wide to the various far-flung provinces, making presentations, conducting trainings, and meeting my team. One day, about a year after I had started, I arrived in a small town called Baguio for a training. I had visited Baguio in the previous months and had already a good team there.
The training hall was filled to the brim with an excited and energetic crowd. After a successful evening, as I was heading out, an elderly woman accompanied by two young children approached me with what appeared to be a sack in her hand.
She caught my arm, smiled, and said, “Sir, I have been raising my grandchildren alone and had been struggling to make ends meet. Then I came to your presentation earlier this year and was truly inspired. You helped open up a path for me that day. I signed up and started building my business, and now I’m making enough money to send my grandchildren to school and raise them without needing help. When I heard you were coming back here today, I had to see you and thank you.”
Then she handed me the sack in her hands. It was filled with fresh vegetables. She said, “I wanted to give you a token of appreciation. I can’t afford to give you anything fancy, but these are vegetables I grew myself and the best I can offer you right now to show my gratitude.”
As I took those vegetables from her, I felt richer than I ever had. A clear sense of purpose dawned in me.
I saw there was so much more I could do for others. Just like this wonderful old lady, there were many people out there who lacked the confidence, the drive, and the skill sets to simply stand on their feet. To instill this spirit of entrepreneurship in them was truly a gift. Thus began my journey of truly living my purpose. A couple of years later with a team of like-minded people, we set up a company whose sole purpose was RYTHM.
This concept of RYTHM has become a driving force in my life. It is not just about providing support and help to those in need. It is more about instilling belief in people, giving them confidence, and teaching them the skillsets they need to achieve their dreams. It is about helping people see that they need to stop eking out a living, but rather live.
Till today, it gives me the greatest thrill to see people succeed, to see that glimmer of hope in their eyes when their purpose is identified, to watch their faces as courage fills their hearts, to see their lives transform as they evolve into who they were born to be.
Purpose gives people strength in their stride, depth in their vision, and a glow in their smile. Despite the challenges life continues to bring, they are able to see beyond and spot the rainbow at the end of the road. Such is the magic of purpose. Feeding the hunger in their bellies is the task of a single day. Feeding the hunger of the mind, that is the task of a lifetime.
VIJAY ESWARAN’s book Two Minutes from the Abyss: 11 Pillars of Life Management will be available globally in early 2017. Sign up on www.vijayeswaran.com/2mins to receive updates.