It sounds pretty heavy doesn’t it? How to live a life of meaning and purpose to some sounds like a pipe dream. It’s for this reason that many will never take the time to even think about what it would take to live like this. The simple fact is that often who we think we are and what we think we are capable of achieving is just a result of psychological programing, a combination of our upbringing, our parents and siblings, social norms and values, religion, the media, educational and political institutions to name a few. This often creates the stuff that either makes or breaks us. What is that stuff? It’s our BS! That’s right, our Belief Systems.
But you know what, the truth is there are a bunch of people, alive and dead, that have lived an inspired and purposeful life. One of the easiest and fastest ways to achieve something amazing is to look at those who have already achieved greatness and study them and this is the purpose of this article. There are a number of people that have what I call the ‘X Factors of Success’. I’ve spent over half my life asking myself many questions, one of which is; ‘what are the traits and characteristics of amazing people and how can I get that?
Here’s a short sample of the people I’ve researched: Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, John Lennon, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Mother Teresa, Sr Richard Branson, Deepak Chopra, Dali Lama, John F Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Che Guerra, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Ford, Socrates, Plato, William James, Opra Winfrey, Leonardo Da Vinci, Rumi, Shakespeare, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Sir Isaac Newton, Winston Churchill, Ramses ll, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Alexander The Great, Nicola Tesla, Aristotle, Rosa Parks, Helen Keller, Mohammad Ali, Mozart.
In no particular order of importance, let me share with you some of the characteristics I have found that applied to almost every one of these people:
- They all had a dream and would be able to articulate it quite clearly into words without hesitation or procrastination. The dream was BIG, grand and almost ‘super human’, something that ‘the average Joe’ would probably laugh at. This dream would be something that would extend FAR beyond just meeting their own needs, but would be something that many people would benefit from. They thought ‘outside the box’. They realized that conventional and safe thinking wasn’t going to cut it.
- They all had a very strong sense of self. They knew who they were, what they were about and what they stood for. They felt like they were on a mission, something that was planted inside them from birth, something they felt compelled to express. They all had a feeling that finding and expressing this mission was exactly what was going to give them the greatest freedom and satisfaction.
- All were very introspective and took the time to be alone with their own thoughts in quiet contemplation. They went within themselves to find their dream, vision, mission and purpose. They knew that what it was they were here to do was to be found inside not outside ‘in the world’. This may involve some sort of prayer, a walk in nature or it could be as simple as concentrating to your breathing.
- They were not afraid to speak their truth, often in front of large groups of people. Once they had connected with their mission and purpose, they were generally unafraid to express their truth to the world. They didn’t allow the opinions of others or the ‘status quo’ determine what they should or shouldn’t say.
- Hardship or persecution was often part of their journey. Almost all had it pretty bloody tough at some point but they carried on regardless often grateful and appreciative of the challenge as it enabled them to more clearly define their dream and purpose.
- They all asked themselves some BIG questions. It’s the questions you ask yourself that will determine the quality of your life. You can image these guys asking themselves things like; ‘How can I change this for the better?’, ‘What is my life going to stand for?’, ‘What will people remember me for?’, ‘What is my dream, vision and purpose?’, ‘What is it that I’m here to do?’, ‘How can I be more of service to the world?’, ‘How can I make a difference?’.
- Many had a belief in some higher or greater power (call it what you will). They had a belief that this greater power was always accessible by turning their attention inside themselves.
- They were all very self-reliant and resilient. They didn’t rely on something or someone outside of themselves to achieve their goals and dreams. They took complete and total responsibility for the good and the bad of their life.
- These individuals were service orientated. They all felt some desire to serve and be of service to other people in some way.
- None were born leaders, or even set out to become leaders, but naturally become one as a by-product of pursuing their dream.
Here is a small exercise that I would encourage you to do. Take any one of the above qualities and ask yourself:
- Where in my life am I already living this trait and where could I live this trait a little more?
- If I was living this trait completely, how would this translate into my every day experience?
- How would my values and priorities change if I was living this particular quality?
- Am I prepared to make these changes? If not, why not? What is holding me back? Is this REAL or imagined?
- What things would I do more or less of in my day if I was living this trait?