When you ask people to point to themselves, regardless of the culture, they will almost always point to the center of their chest, to their heart center. They don’t point to their head. We instinctively know that there is an intelligence, an innate sense of our core being deep in our body, not in the intellect. This core being is the soul.
Soul is a word that’s showing up all over the place now. Recently I even saw an advertisement for the soul of a car! It’s a word that gets tossed around a lot, yet when I ask an audience to define soul, there is often a deafening silence.
Soul is essence. Essence is like water—when you add water to a seed, it brings that seed to life. In the ancient scholarly languages, the words for soul and spirit translate to mean breath. Breath is our life-force. Without it we can’t survive. Our soul is our life-breath. Without soul, there is no meaningful life.
Soul is the source of your intuition, wisdom, and creativity. It has an intelligence, and it has a mission or a purpose. Your soul mission is why you’re here, your reason for being, your calling. It’s the passion and fuel that drives your life. It’s not something that you make up or decide. You are born with it, and it remains essentially the same throughout your life. Your understanding of it may evolve, and how you express and live it may change, but the essence remains the same. And because it is who you were born to be, it also represents your greatest potential. Discovering your soul mission and letting it guide your life unleashes your potential and sets you on a course for achieving it.
John is an account executive in a large advertising agency in NY. His soul mission is “I recharge human hearts.” He is brilliant at his job, yet the driving force for who he is in that job and in his life is his soul mission. He is incredibly well-respected and loved, not just because of his expertise and skill, but because of the “recharging” energy he brings to everyone with whom he works. Outside of work, he is also a gourmet cook, and he loves “recharging” people with a fabulous meal.
Patti is a top executive with a major global marketing firm and is also deeply involved in efforts to eradicate world hunger, playing a significant role in the UN World Food Programme. In addition, she is a wife and the mother of three supercharged teenage boys. So on any given day, Patti might be leading a high-profile strategic planning session, jetting off to Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum, or being a soccer mom. Patti’s soul mission is: “I connect.” She claims that becoming aware of her soul mission and the fact that she has a larger purpose has called her to a much higher consciousness on many levels, influencing her decisions on everything from where she shops and what she buys (supporting fair trade and green brands) to who she votes for to how she greets strangers. She says that knowing her soul mission has given her the confidence to carry on and not give up in the face of big challenges. Her soul mission has provided her with clarity of who she really is.
Patti is a master at connecting people with one another for maximum results. She recognizes that if she remains anchored in her soul mission, she will have the greatest impact in her company and in the world. Both Patti and John claim that when they remain focused on living their soul missions, they find the energy they need for their fast-paced lives. Patti says, “Since doing my soul mission work, I’ve learned that I have to go ‘in’ and get centered and focused before I can go ‘out’ into the world. I have to balance it. If I go in and never come out, I get stuck. At the same time, if I go out before getting centered and purposeful, I waiver. So I have to go in and tap into my soul mission first. And then I’m ready for the world.”
One of the greatest things about discovering your soul mission is the realization that you can live it all the time. It’s not dependent upon a particular job, relationship, or situation. My soul mission is: “I liberate and empower.” I live that mission in obvious ways—writing, speaking, leading workshops and trainings, and coaching—but also in conversation with a friend or how I interact with people. Earlier in my life I was a professional singer and voice teacher. In teaching singers, I liberated their voices and empowered them through strong and dependable vocal technique to succeed in the extremely competitive worlds of opera and musical theater. When you let go and follow your intuitive sense of who you really are and what you are meant to be doing, living soul mission comes naturally.
So how do you discover your soul mission? You can start by breathing into your soul and remembering a time when you were incredibly happy, totally consumed by what you were doing, completely lost in the moment. Perhaps it was when you were a child, or maybe it was last week. Perhaps it was for an hour, maybe for a year. Step back in your memory to that time and breathe it in. Then drop below the activity itself to observe what was happening inside of you. What were the sensations in your body? What was the authentic part of you showing up? Who were you getting to be? What was being excited and fed within you? Maybe you were being creative, or helping someone, teaching something, or fixing something. Whatever it was, what was the essence of what was going on? In recognizing that essence, you’re starting to touch your soul mission.
Another powerful question is: If this were the last year of your life, who would it be important for you to be, what would it be important for you to do? What do you want to be remembered for?
In workshops and coaching I use a number of visualizations to help the client tap into the soul intuitively—to look beneath the mask they wear to meet the world every day. The entire process is one of intuitively discovering who you are at your essence—discovering the driving passion or fuel for your life.
As you discover your soul mission, it is important to condense it into a statement that is six words or less. Too long a statement waters down the energy and impact. You are looking for the fewest words with the greatest punch—a statement that calls you forth to your most expansive self and to your greatest potential, not just for the immediate future, but for your lifetime.
Living soul mission is not something that you do “instead of” something else—it’s something that you do “through” everything. Living your soul mission doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change career paths, relationships, religious affiliation, or communities. John and Patti both discovered their soul missions well into their careers and through living it, found new fulfillment and success in their work. They also realized that in many ways they had been living their soul missions all along; the new awareness of it just heightened its effectiveness and impact in their lives. Their careers became the vehicles for living their life purpose. The more you focus on your soul mission as the primary consideration for everything you do, the more it informs your life, and the more every part of your life begins to be a reflection of your true essence.
Michelangelo said, “The greatest danger for most of us is not that we aim too high and we miss it, but that we aim too low and we make it.” We each play a dynamic role in the ongoing creation of our world and our future. Engaging the soul and living your soul mission means aiming high—“going for the gold.” Discover your soul mission and let it guide you, and you will have a great foundation upon which to build an extraordinary life.
Alan Seale, PCC, MSC is an inspirational speaker and a leadership and transformation coach. He is the author of Soul Mission * Life Vision, Intuitive Living, and The Manifestation Wheel. http://www.alanseale.com
Originally published in “Choice: The Magazine of Professional Coaching.”