On Saturday I was part of the judging panel for London’s Professional Speaking Association who held their annual Speaker Factor competition. I won this competition in 2012 and if I had been pitted against this year’s 14 contestants I probably would not have won. Watching 14 diverse speakers deliver a five-minute speech of their choice was enthralling, shocking, funny and deeply moving. When professional speakers speak from their heart about something thats important to them they create an intense engagement from their audience.
Sometimes a speaker’s purpose has been triggered by a trauma, an unbelievably painful experience and that speaker shares their personal story. Sometimes if their stories are too well-rehearsed or delivered with not enough emphasis on their audience or the ‘What’s in it for me’ then what should be a turbo-charged intensity morphs into amateur dramatics and the audience switches off muttering to themselves, “This is not Eastenders”.
On Saturday the judging panel’s opinions were divided, making it a close contest and a powerful example that different people have very different perceptions. You can’t please all of the people (or the judging panel for that matter) all of the time. There has to be a purpose behind the drama, a positive uplifting message behind the trauma or else we find ourselves embroiled within the theatrics of the ego. When speakers operate as independent silos rather than for ‘the greater good of their audience’ the audience will eventually stand up and complain. The speaker who gets so caught up in their own drama can forget why they are there. I found myself judging others and realised I did not like being ‘a judge who judged’. The audience who pursed their lips or wildly applauded in the knowledge that their reaction would impact upon that speaker knew their purpose; if they didn’t like what they saw they showed it, if they were entertained they cheered and applauded. Simple.
The charismatic Greek leader, Alexis Tsipras has shown defiance in the face of pressure and bully-boy tactics from the European establishment. When the Greeks voted “No” in a demonstration of people power and rejected the bailout offer they immediately plunged Europe into a place of uncertainty yet again. Tsipras is a man with a vision for Greece, a man driven by a purpose to protect and look after his nation’s wellbeing first. His style in front of the camera is relaxed and conversational as he uses words and phrases that are ordinary yet deeply persuasive. Is he a brave man? Did the voters who said “No” make a courageous choice? Whether you agree with Greece’s decision or not, Alex Tsipras instilled the nation’s heart with a sense of importance and purpose.
As 27,000 kilos of strawberries are consumed at Wimbledon this year, the people united to show their disdain for BBC’s new ‘highlights show’ Wimbledon 2Day. Clare Balding, whose former authenticity has been whipped up into a cream of diva, appears to be using Graham Norton as her role model (which works when you’re Graham Norton yet bombs disastrously if you happen to be Clare Balding). According to the Guardian, “the whole show is a mess” as it tries to be what it isn’t. Should it be like Top Gear or The One Show? Clearly it’s still wondering because this particular show has seriously lost its sense of purpose.
Regardless of whether you are a professional speaker, a politician or a television programme everyone and everything benefits when connected to a purpose in life. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche stated “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”.We exist on this earth for some undetermined period of time. During that time we do things. Some of these things are important. Some of them are unimportant. And those important things give our lives meaning and happiness. The unimportant ones basically just kill time. So when you ask yourself the question, “What should I do with my life?” or “What is my life purpose?” you can find better answers by asking “hat can I do with my time that feels important to me?” If you are not living each day with excitement, energy, and passion, then you are not living your life in a way that is true to your life’s purpose – you will not be living your life authentically.
How important is it to our self-respect and to those around us that we remain resolute to our purpose and true to our beliefs even when it’s easier to go along with the majority? Well, imagine experiencing every day feeling a constant, inner excitement about life, that sends a humming sensation direct to your soul. When you discover and live true to your life purpose in the highest possible way, your soul will “sing” in a way you’ve never seen before. You feel in a state of effortless flow and life’s challenges begin to take on an extraordinary significance as an important part of your journey. A friend and mentor of mine recently shared her own purpose in life – she is here to light the way for others. My own purpose in this lifetime is to bring a spiritual message to the hard-nosed world of business through my teachings about charisma. Why are you here? Ralph Waldo Emerson the great American essayist, lecturer and poet who led the transcendental movement in the mid 19th century answered this question with a beautiful elegance: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
What are you living for? What is keeping you from living fully for the thing you want to live for? Does the organisation that you work for have a clearly defined purpose that you feel aligned with? In your career, do you find importance, purpose and meaning within your everyday work? In your relationship, do you understand why you are with the person you are with? What drew you to each other? What keeps you together?
As you reflect back on your upbringing, what did you learn from your parents that defined your path and the person you are today? What if you have been sent to live the life you are living for a reason? What if your presence has real significance in the world? If so, what would it be? You possess qualities and gifts that only you have and when you express these gifts in a way that is authentic and from your true self you contribute to a cause greater than yourself.
My greatest wish for you all is that you find the courage to live your life with purpose and on purpose so you are able to fully connect with the meaning of why you are here. When you discover your life’s purpose simply give your heart and soul to it because this is the greatest gift you can give to humanity.