If you follow this blog, you may remember that back in November I wrote a post called “Finding your special function.” It told about how, in order to lead members of the Circle’s online community through a process of discovering their “special function,” I had sent out a “Special Function Questionnaire.” Then, right after sending it, I received something called “The Short but Powerful Guide to Finding Your Passion,” by Leo Babauta. The parallels between my questionnaire and Babauta’s guide were numerous and quite detailed. I took the resulting CMPE as confirmation of my questionnaire and of my reasons for doing it, and wrote this interpretation:
It is right that I sent out the Special Function Questionnaire to the Circle Course Community (CCC), with its focus on the supremely important task of finding your special function. It is good that it includes looking back over your life for key indicators, identifying what you are good at and what work you find fulfilling (and have secretly dreamed of doing), as well as using what you have read and studied as clues. It is also good that it identifies blocks like self-doubt and the belief you don’t have the time. The sign seems to be a confirmation of the November special function focus in the CCC.
This clearly assumed that the questionnaire and the overall focus on our special function would be a good thing for members of the CCC. So I watched and waited to see what would happen—if the special function focus really would bear fruit for them. My hope was that at least one or two would make dramatic progress toward finding and fulfilling their function.
One of our members is Sharon. For years I have had a secret hope that she would find her special function, as I’ve always had the sense that she has something to give the world—though what it is, I don’t know. However, Sharon decided to avoid the whole topic. She said, “I was intentionally ignoring the whole ‘special function’ issue going on at the CCC in November.” She explained, “It seems too late for me—at 64, I’ve lost a lot of my potential.” Finally, though, on the 29th of the month, she listened to the recordings of the classes, which included the class in which I presented the Special Function Questionnaire.
Right after listening to the classes, she happened to watch that Sunday’s episode of Meet the Press. The guest that day was Pastor Rick Warren, author of the mega-bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. When she heard him saying things like the following, she started wondering if something was going on:
We believe that God actually shapes each individual for a purpose, that some are made to be oceanographers and some are made to be reporters and some are made to close deals and some are made to be accountants and some are made to teach school. And, and how do you know what you’re shaped to do? Two things: it’s fulfilling and you’re fruitful. If you’re good at it and you love doing it, you’re—you come alive. You don’t have to be paid for what your purpose is, you’d do it even if you weren’t paid. In fact, I’m not paid to do what I do and I don’t take a salary. And so I, I do it out of love. I’m wired to do this.
Sharon wrote me about her experience and I felt immediately that it probably was a CMPE. I looked up the transcript of the Warren interview and found a very strong list of parallels between it and my questionnaire:
- Sharon is listening to an interview or classes with a spiritual teacher
- He is an author and also the leader of a “flock” that follows the teachings of Jesus
- Based on those teachings and on his own life experience, he is urging people to live a life of giving, a life that contributes to the whole, a life that serves a purpose.
- He says that giving/making a contribution is deeply fulfilling. (Warren: “It’s not an accident the word ‘miser’ and ‘miserable’ come from the same root word.” Me: “Using the very strongest and best in us to make a positive contribution-this is as deep of a human need as there is. If you are useless, you are depressed.”)
- He addresses the question of how to find your particular purpose.
- His answer is based on the idea God assigns people different purposes. Therefore you are trying to answer, as Warren put it, “What did God wire me to do?” (Me: “It comes from a Power that sees us far better than we see ourselves and can design something that truly fits us far better than we can.”)
- He says that one guide is that “it’s fulfilling” or that “you love doing it” (Warren). (I said, “How do you feel most fulfilled in contributing to the lives of others?”).
- He says that another guide is that “you’re good at it” (Warren). (My questionnaire focused a lot on your “greatest strengths”).
- You may not see what you are good at, but others might (Warren: “And a lot of times you don’t even know it, but other people say, ‘You know what you’re good at?'”; Me: “What do you think others value as your greatest strengths?”).
- You can look at your life and see this purpose as a driving force in it. (Warren: “What would my family and friends say is the driving force of my life?” Me: I think I mentioned “driving force” in the classes, but even if I didn’t, the idea is certainly in the questionnaire: “It is probably some version of a thing that you have done in different forms your whole life, a thing you really can’t stop yourself from doing.”)
- You do this for the love of it, not for the money (Warren: “The greatest things in life are not things. Never give your life for money”; Me: “In terms of money and the formality of the role, it may be less than a job. But in terms of substance, it is far more. There is no substitute for a life filled with meaning and purpose.”)
For an interpretation, I just applied these parallels to her initial avoidance of the topic (the numbers refer to the parallel I got a particular sentence from):
Instead of avoiding the topic of your special function, it is right that you listened to a spiritual teacher (1) address this topic of how to find the function (5) that God has assigned (6), the function that you are particularly suited to fulfill. Pay attention to the clues this teacher offers for how to find your special function: It will be something that you love doing—that you find fulfilling (7)—and that you are good at (8) (though others might see your abilities here better than you—9). It will be something that, in one form or another, has been a driving force in your life (10). It will be something you do for the love of it, not for the money (11). It will be your way of conducting a life of giving, a life that contributes to the whole (3), and thus of finding the fulfillment that comes from such a life (4). It will be your way of living out the teachings of Jesus (2).
Sharon, then, had received a CMPE that said basically what she initially felt it said: “I thought the message was to ‘get off your rump, Sharon, and stop thinking it’s too late to have a special function.'”
In addition to being happy that Sharon was being nudged in a direction I had long hoped she would be, I also saw this as a kind of fulfillment of my original sign, the one that was “a confirmation of the November special function focus in the CCC.” Here was exactly what I had hoped for—someone in the CCC really engaging the topic of her special function due to our focusing on it that month.
There is one more thing I want to point out about this incident, which for me was perhaps the most exciting thing of all. However, this post is already overlong, so the final point will have to wait until my next post.