I was sitting in a Seminar one day when the motivational speaker, Gerald Rogers, asked us: "What is your ‘Soul Purpose’?"
I had never heard that phrase before and I quickly realized I didn’t know the answer. Did anyone really know the answer to that? He went on to explain that each of us is a unique being on this planet – no one else has our same combination of talents, personality traits, and life experiences. He drew a vertical column on the board and said he wanted us to list our gifts in the column. I drew a column on my paper and started writing: graphic design, photography, piano, teaching, etc. He asked us to choose the talent that gave us the most fulfillment. I circled photography.
Next he asked us to think about all the jobs we had ever done using that talent. Which ones stood out in our mind? Which projects, which clients, which creations were the most fulfilling? I thought of all my photography clients: I had done almost everything – weddings, babies, families, seniors, corporate, commercial, etc. As I scanned my memories, one client stood out: a woman in her 40’s who had asked me to document her journey with breast cancer. What touched me so deeply about the project was how healing the images were for her. They helped her through some incredibly difficult times. They healed her heart. They captured her courage. They inspired many. I knew that was my most meaningful job.
Gerald went on to ask what personality traits did we have that helped us accomplish this? I thought of my love for people, my compassion for others, and my love for hope and healing. I wrote healing down.
Next he asked us to think about our life’s experiences. He drew a horizontal row that crossed over the talent column. The intersection made a little box. What was unique to our life that was different from everyone else? What experiences in our lives had been our greatest teacher? I wrote down several things: college, marriage, moving, my parents’ divorce, having children, etc. He asked us to think how any of those experiences related to our favorite job? I thought about how my parents’ divorce was a great challenge in my life. My heart needed to heal from many things. It taught me compassion for those who were struggling. It taught me to have courage in adversity. I put divorce right in the center of my column. It overlapped with my gift for photography.
Gerald concluded that whatever ended up in that box was a unique combination of talents, traits and experience that was ours alone to help us discover our Soul Purpose. He asked us to ponder those words. I looked down at my paper. The words were so random: photography + healing + divorce. It seemed like a harmless exercise. Little did I realize that the box with those three little words was about to change the course of my professional life.
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