The power of purpose

By on May 15, 2011

Photo © Elena Derevtsova


If you are in Japan, there are many pressing survive level concerns competing for your attention right now, so why should you bother investing any energy to think about cultivating a sense of purpose and meaning in these difficult times? Simple: Research shows that those individuals with a clear sense of purpose and the ability to find meaning in both positive and negative events in their lives are more resilient in times of crisis.

Why is this?

From a very young age we begin to ask “why?” These early questions stem from the inherent knowledge that everything in life has meaning and purpose. Unfortunately, as we grow older, we are trained to stop asking why and to just do as we are told. While this might support short term survival, it is a major barrier to our ability to thrive. Thriving requires that we cultivate our ability to find meaning and purpose in everything in life.

In nature everything has a purpose. Every plant, animal, insect, stream, and natural process has some specific contribution to make to the whole. Everything is interconnected. Everything is important. Everything has its own special place, role, function, and purpose.

Just as each species has a unique niche and an environment where they function best, so does each person. If you take an insect or animal out of its indigenous environment, you run the risk of upsetting the balance both in the new environment and in the old one. Discovering purpose and seeking meaning in all events in your life directs you to the niche where you are best able to thrive. This supports and sustains the optimal health of the whole system and is why cultivating a sense of purpose and meaning is critical for building resilience in the face of crisis. 

To identify your own unique purpose, begin by looking at the contributions you already make in your life and work. What do you contribute to your family, your friends, your workplace or your community? Think about the talents and strengths you have and how you naturally use them in a way that serves others. Think about your values, the choices you make, and your natural ways of being and consider how these contribute to those around you.  

The next step is to look at the needs you see and the contributions you get most excited about making. What needs do you see? What are you most passionate about giving? How would you most like to make a difference? How would you love to be of service? How do you want to add value to the world?

Not everyone sees the same needs. The needs you see and your level of passion for them are related to the abilities, talents, and resources you have access to that can address those needs. When you are giving to others in ways that align with your purpose and your passions, it will be energizing and fulfilling, rather than being a source of stress.

In times of crisis, people pull together to help one another. For many, it is also a time to re-examine their lives, get clear on their priorities, and take action to make a

positive difference in their own lives as well as the lives of those around them. I hope that all of you will take the opportunity to use these stressful times as a catalyst for connecting more deeply with your own sense of purpose and building greater resilience for your future.


Andrea Jacques, founder of Kyosei Consulting International, has spent more than 20 years developing the potential of individuals and organizations worldwide. Five of these years were spent in Japan where the core philosophies of her work on the relationship between passion, performance, and profits took shape. A dynamic speaker, coach, and facilitator, her work integrates leading eastern and western thought with top-tier leadership, engagement, wellness and sustainability consulting to build the capacity of people and business to thrive. Her clients represent a diverse cross-section of industries including banking, retail, government, insurance, academia and high-tech. She can be contacted through her website at

About Andrea Jacques

Andrea Jacques is the founder of Kyosei Consulting and the author of Wabi-Sabi Wisdom: Inspiration for an Authentic Life (available on She has spent more than 20 years developing the potential of people and businesses worldwide, five of which were in Japan. A dynamic speaker, coach, and facilitator, her work integrates spiritual insight with top-tier leadership, wellness and sustainability consulting to help individuals and organizations build thriving, purpose-driven cultures where employees know their work truly matters. She can be contacted through her website at