Louisville Medicine Volume 69, Issue 12 - Page 6

Knowing our purpose is critical to fulfilling whatever mission life has for us . Knowing your purpose means knowing your “ why .” Although as physicians we have a common purpose , we each serve our purpose uniquely . People can find a sense of purpose organically , or through deliberate exercises and self-reflection .

When I was 17 years old , I was looking for direction in my life . I was not sure what I wanted to do . I knew the military could provide me with life and leadership skills as well as teach me excellent job skills . I made the decision to meet with a military recruiter .
I can recall the events of the meeting vividly . The recruiter requested I watch a VCR tape recording of the various job opportunities offered such as infantry , artillery and engineering . None of these jobs appealed to me . Although I did not like the idea of taking another person ’ s life , I could feel my testosterone level rising with the idea of learning how to discharge weapons and use military equipment .
The next segment in the video immediately caught my attention . The video introduced the job of Combat Medical Specialist . I saw a variety of scenarios with medics assisting people in various settings such as health care offices , hospitals and in the field . I imagined myself working in a field hospital as a medic . I told my recruiter I would like to become a medic .
My desire to become a medic became a reality and I was sent overseas to Panama as a platoon medic of an Airborne Infantry unit and tended to the wounded soldiers in the jungle . My service allowed me the opportunity to realize I genuinely enjoyed caring for other people . After fulfilling my commitment and being honorably discharged from the Army , I returned home to Louisville , where I attended college at the University of Louisville .
I witnessed family members who were sick and needed help ,


including my beloved grandmother with whom I was close . She was initially diagnosed with breast cancer , and then shortly thereafter developed lung cancer . Just as I had taken care of my fellow soldiers in the jungles of Panama , I wanted to provide comfort and care the best I could . Shortly after her death , I decided to continue my purpose in helping others by becoming a physician .
An article by Deloitte Insights points out that 87 % of people are not very passionate about their work . 1 This passion gap leaves a lot of room for improvement , and consequently , a lot of opportunity for individual and company growth and success . This means the glass is half full , right ?
Many of you are probably familiar with the life changing work of the Blue Zones Project , an organization devoted to helping entire communities make healthier choices day to day . During their explorations for longevity , they found that different cultures around the world have special words that describe purpose . The most powerful medicine we have to add years to our lives is having a clear sense of purpose . On average , people who belong to a faith-based community , live anywhere from four to 14 years longer than people who don ’ t . Why ? It could be from the stress reduction from attending weekly services , or the social networks we build . 2
Another way to find your purpose is to identify your passions and then find a place to put them to work . For Dan Buettner ’ s Blue Zones Vitality Project , they recruited world renowned purpose expert Dr . Richard Leider . In his book , The Power of Purpose , he shows readers how to find purpose . Using a process that he ’ s developed over 20 years , he helps people identify their values , passions , talents and gifts . Once you can clearly identify those gifts , you then have a pretty good idea of what kind of activities will give your work particular life meaning .
Here ’ s the secret to Richard ’ s process , something you can do at home . First , make a list of 15 things you ’ re good at . It can be things like fixing things or opening doors or resolving conflict . Then circle