Purpose and Urgency
Language is powerful. A word, the right word, as Mark Twain once said is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. One of my favorite comedians, George Carlin, spoke a lot about language and perception and it was through his observations that I began thinking about the power of language.
When I think about words and the meaning they express, I think of keys that open doors, or maybe even close them. The right word, the right language can open up a door in one’s mind. Conversely, the wrong word can shut a mind down and stop it in it’s tracks.
When I began to actively work on changing my life one of the things I focused on was language. Language that didn’t serve me had to be discarded and that which served me well was embraced.
Think of the words “purpose” and “urgency”. Just think about them for a minute. How do those words make you feel? Nervous? Excited? Energized? Anxious?
I wrote these two words down and contemplated them because I wanted to embrace the energy of these two words and let that energy flow into my life.
Purpose means intent. Intent means thoughtfulness. To be purposeful means to have a goal or target and to focus all one’s energy and being into attaining that goal or to hit that target. “The Power of Purpose” is a profound phrase to me. Without purpose, we are leaving our fate to chance. And I don’t like surprises. If I’m gonna do something, then I want it done and done right. I’m not a fan of nebulous results.
However, for a lot of years I was nebulous. I didn’t get results and didn’t know why. I just figured that sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. Maybe it had something to do with luck, I figured.
But then, after more examination, I thought, no, it’s not about luck or chance. It’s about intention. And what word best sums up intention. Purpose.
This was a major shift in my thinking and really led the way to being more of an adult. Embracing purpose means accepting responsibility, which was something I’d tried to avoid most of my life. However, once one comes to the conclusion that luck and chance and a “so what” attitude is not acceptable and unreliable, then purpose and intent become crystal clear.
The other word I think about often and embrace is “urgency”. For one to have urgency in their life one must first have purpose. With the purpose firmly in mind, then we can have urgency in our intentions.
I was trained to procrastinate. My upbringing in a small, sleepy country town in Missouri was not exactly brimming with urgency and purpose. Thus, I tended to coast thru life and as I said earlier, accept things as chance or luck. But, after moving to New York City, it became very clear that urgency was the name of the game. That is, assuming one has purpose.
If I wanted to not only keep up, but to get ahead and thrive, I needed to discover my purpose, define it and embrace it with urgency. I did this by writing it all down because when a person takes pen to paper, they think. You must think it through all the way, on paper, first. At least, that’s what I had to do. So I did.
I wrote down everything. Goals. Fears. Anxieties. Strengths and Weaknesses. I wrote and wrote and wrote, distilling all my thoughts down to ink and a yellow legal pad. Eventually, my purpose emerged and then I could go after it with urgency.
Several years later, I find myself in a position in which I get to teach this to young music students. Many of them use language that sets them up to fail. Words like “Try” and “Hard” and “Maybe”. I am adamant they use winning language with intent. And it works.
It’s kinda funny, my mom used to say “watch your language” when I’d say a curse word or something. But now, “watch your language” means something entirely different to me. Language has a profound effect on our thoughts and thoughts determine our actions. Your thoughts become true for you.