Finding your hill


Often lack of purpose and direction is mistaken for lack of will and drive.  The two of these could not be more different. Will and drive are the means to get to a prespecified end. It is the blood, sweat, and tears that it takes to achieve a goal. Purpose and direction, on the other hand, are what defines that end and marks the goal. It is the line marking the finish or the syllabus at the beginning of a term. To have purpose and direction does not mean that one will also have the will and drive to reach the end. And to have will and drive does not mean that progress in a productive direction is being made. One must have both in order to succeed. The ability to look ahead and set a course must also be coupled with an unyielding will and a ruthless grit. Without one, progress halts. Purpose without the drive presents itself as one listlessly bobbing in the current, looking at the nearby island and wishing they were already wading ashore. Drive without purpose results in a similar lack of progress but presents itself as a wild thrashing in the waves without a pause to chart the course to shore.  

I would guess that most people struggle, not with drive as some would suppose, but with finding a purpose. While older generations look at the younger generations and criticize their drive, I wonder if instead, the issue lies within finding a purpose. As humans, endless striving is in our nature. We are constantly pursuing more. We are constantly looking for the next thing. However, we are also constantly searching for purpose and a meaning to our existence. Anyone will work tirelessly when a great vision is cast, a compelling mission is presented, or a worthy opponent presents itself. The threat of fascism in World War II united nations and compelled individuals to work without selfishness for a greater purpose. The problem is never people are not willing to sacrifice, but that they need to see the greater vision they are working towards. Great leaders (NOT great humans), are able to cast this vision and provide a unifying purpose and direction. Hitler rose to power with such abilities. As did Mao. To counter these great leaders (and great human beings) united their people under an even more compelling purpose. Churchill lead his nation from the edge of destruction to the freedom of Europe. Roosevelt rallied the industrial and military might of the United States and used the fight in Europe to also fight the economic war at home.

They say the first thing you should do when you know you are lost is to stop walking. Stop. Think. Orient yourself and establish a course. The same is true in life. There are too many hills to take them all. Pick the strategic ones. The ones that will improve the world and improve yourself. Don’t run up every hill, don’t spread yourself too thin. Find your purpose, and the drive will find itself.

Published by JR Stanley

I am an MD, PhD student, training to be a physician scientist, with a deep interest in science, faith, and living life as an adventure. Join me as I entertain ideas from new findings in science, evolving interpretations of faith, and experience life one day and one adventure at a time.

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