On Purpose
Dr. Rahel Kassahun

On Purpose

Written By

Rahel Kassahun, Ph.D.

In his best-selling book titled The Road Less Travelled, M. Scott Peck opens the first chapter with this very short and profoundly accurate statement, “Life is difficult.” I’m sure most, if not all of us, have uttered these words in various ways. Another common expression is, “Life is meaningless.” Particularly in times of hardship and loss, we tend to ask ourselves, or each other, "What is this all about anyway?"

Life is meaningless until we identify our purpose - the one thing that we are passionate about and are willing to dedicate our time and energy to, primarily because it is the activity that makes us feel most alive and productive. My purpose, I believe, is to lead the Africa Unbound Movement. The reason I believe that it is my purpose is because there is absolutely nothing else in this world that I would rather do. This is the work that I know I can do better than anything else I could possibly be doing. I think about it virtually all the time and many activities that I used to find interesting before Africa Unbound now feel like unwanted distractions. It gives me so much joy, and quite a bit of pain too, and it feels like an extension of me.

As I go through this experience, I often wonder what the world would be like if we all were doing what we believe is our purpose in life. I think our world would look very different from what we see today. I’ll come back to this point later.

There are two critical reasons why I believe the identification of our purpose is important. First, we can finally live a really interesting life. We have to admit that in addition to being difficult, life can also be very boring, tedious and stagnant. Lack of purpose and excitement leads many people into destructive behaviors including drinking, drugs, and associating with people that they don’t really like or respect. When we identify our purpose and connect with it, there is no time for boredom. We are constantly thinking about the next thing that needs to be done or how to deal with yet another seemingly insurmountable problem or celebrating a victorious moment. In other words, we transform our life from mediocre and bearable to exciting, challenging and increasingly fulfilling.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it is critical that we figure out our purpose in life because when identified, it becomes our biggest contribution to society. It is our reason for being here on this earth. It is a 'public good' that does not belong to us and must be delivered to the world. However big or small you believe your purpose in life is, when you finally put your finger on it, it begins to transform your own life as well as the lives of others in your community. Since it is the thing that we really want to do, we do it well and it becomes our greatest contribution to our community, our country and ultimately the world.

This, I believe, is a huge point because it is the key to eradicating poverty in Africa. It is not through aid or trade that we fully unlock our innate capacity to be innovative. It is through the introspective process that we each must engage in to find out what it is that we really care about and then find a way to do something about it. I believe the one thing that is required more than anything else to identify your purpose is a sincere desire to make a positive difference. You don't need to have a clear vision, just the willingness to take the first step and the next and the next until your purpose crystallizes for you.

Your purpose may be any positive or constructive activity such as identifying a certain need in your community and then inventing some tool or starting a business to fulfill that need. It may be in politics and public service, or to express yourself through some form of art. There are many ways and forms through which one can express his or her gift to the world. Your particular purpose or contribution, however, will be uniquely yours in the sense that there is something that you can do just a little bit differently than anyone else. That's what you need to uncover.

Earlier, I said that I wonder what the world would look like if we were all living a purposeful life. I believe we would effectively eradicate poverty because when we engage in the introspective process required to uncover our life purpose, we will find that at the deepest level, we all want to do something that will address some need in the world. And when we each do our part, real transformation becomes inevitable. Moreover, this type of awakening will lead to the realization of our connectedness and interdependence, which in turn will lead to cooperation, sharing and support for one another.

The identification of one's purpose is a very challenging process. Africa Unbound is here to bring together and support individuals who are interested in engaging in this process. We don’t have all the answers but we do have a strong desire and commitment to participate in transforming Africa from the poorest continent in the world to one where all her people live in peaceful harmony, prosperity and freedom from all forms of aggression and deprivation.

Our salvation is in identifying our individual purpose in life and bringing it forth into the world. As intelligent and creative beings, we can find innovative solutions to all of our problems when we stop waiting for others to do the work that needs to be done and start looking within to discover our talents and put them to productive use. So, we have a choice; we can either try to dismiss this point and go on with life as usual (I say "try" because I don’t think the thought will go away), or take a few bold steps forward and join the rapidly increasing number of people around the globe who are engaged in living a more purposeful life.

Come, be part of our growing community and actively engage in this quiet revolution. Ask your questions (post them on our website in the You, Unbound section) and let others in the community support you in your journey. Share your experience by writing an article or poem, or mentoring a young African through our mentorship program. The Africa Unbound train is moving; you can join now or later. We’ll be here!

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Latest Comments

Ajayi Olutayo

Ajayi Olutayo

11. October, 2012 |

People like you are needed on this continent to take us to where we should be. Keep it up man!

Marcus Edibogi Akor

Marcus Edibogi Akor

11. October, 2012 |

Thanks for this powerful article. I am very glad I read it. Keep up your great work and remain Blessed Law!

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