From the Teacher’s Desk – Living Life on Purpose


By Leonard Quilty

Know that the Creator lives and moves and breathes within you. So those dreams? Risk them.

Those words? Write them.  Those hopes? Believe them.   Elora Nicole Ramirez

Lately, I’ve been reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Apple Computers co-founder, Steve Jobs. It’s a very interesting tale of a visionary leader building a company, and legacy, which is certainly world class. Of course, in the initial stages Jobs partnered with his co-founder, Steve Wozniak, to get the company up and running and then to set it on solid footing for continued expansion.

As Jobs was growing the Apple enterprise, he didn’t always endear himself to his friends and colleagues. But despite his abrupt manner at times, Jobs did have a singular focus – a purpose – to design the best possible pieces of technology. To this day, Apple has stayed on the cutting edge of innovative products and services. (As an aside, I really like my iPhone 4!)

Maybe you have read or heard the following words by William Barclay: “There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.”  I believe that finding our purpose is the raison d’être of our existence on this planet.

The history books are filled with people like Steve Jobs. That is, people who possessed a laser-like focus on the object of their dream, and then had the fortitude to see their dream materialized. Some names that come to mind are: Abe Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Blessed Mother Teresa and Mohandas Gandhi.

Similar to Mr. Jobs, these famous people, and others like them, had a burning desire – a vision – to improve the circumstances around them. As they realized that vision, all of a sudden the world was a better place. Each one in their own right was a trailblazer. In Steve Jobs’ words, they made “a dent in the universe.”

I recently watched a great video on YouTube by leadership expert and author John Maxwell. The title of his speech was “Finding Your Purpose.” In this video, Mr. Maxwell told his audience that they must use their passion and giftedness to find themselves – to find their purpose. Maxwell then called upon his listeners to give their purpose to something bigger than themselves. That is, to lose themselves in a great cause.

On the video, I liked it when Maxwell encouraged his audience to get to the second level of their purpose; that is growing their purpose beyond themselves and doing something really significant with their life. He equated that to having a calling.

This week I was reading an article through a connection on LinkedIn and came across another article recommending some key people to follow on Twitter. (Don’t you just love social media?!) One of the Twitter recommendations was Dan Schawbel. Dan is a keynote speaker and bestselling author. One of Dan’s recent tweets referred me to an article by another bestselling author, Susan Cain. You may know her as the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

The title of Cain’s article was “How Pursuing a Quest Can Bring Purpose to Your Life.” Cain wrote briefly about her quest to become a writer, but the main focus of her article was to refer the reader to another bestselling author, Chris Guillebeau. Chris had written an article by the same title, and in it he discussed his newly released book – The Happiness of Pursuit.

Last year Mr. Guillebeau finished an amazing eleven year quest – to visit every country in the world. That’s 193 countries! His new book relates stories of other quest seekers he met along the way who wanted to add adventure in their daily lives. Two examples mentioned in the above article were a man who ran 250 marathons in a single year, and a young woman who circumnavigated the globe in a small sailboat.

At the end of his article, Guillebeau stated that his book has a clear message: “A quest can bring greater purpose and meaning to your life.”

The words of Robert Byrne strongly echo the above author’s sentiments: “The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”

Leonard Quilty is a guidance counsellor with the Centre for Learning@Home in Okotoks, Alberta. He can be reached by e-mail at, or visit his website at