“In the long run, clarity about purpose will trump knowledge of activity-based costing, balanced scorecards, core competence, disruptive innovation, the four P’s, the five forces, and other key business theories we teach at Harvard. If you take the time to figure out your purpose in life, I promise that you will look back on it as the most important thing you will have ever learned.” Clayton Christensen
In “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”, as in all great stories, we find a hero, a protagonist, a heroine, a mystic guide, and a grand and inexplicable adventure. Dr. Alfred Jones has taken a heart-pounding passion around fly fishing and turned it into an antiseptic practice of tips, techniques, and endless research. The poetry of rolling cast and thrill of beast baited has been replaced by theory, best practice, and science.
The impossible plan of a wealthy sheik and a divine appointment that he literally can’t refuse, find him squarely in the crosshairs of purpose, desire, and passion. With vision cast and role defined, the coordinates of the journey begin to drip and ooze with import. With target known, the burden becomes easy and yoke lighter still. He not only begins to believe the dream, he is reinvigorated as his heart comes alive…not only for the pursuit of salmon, but every beautiful thing.
I am captivated by that story and I think every man would be. That is our story. I believe for most of us, the heart-pounding transformation of an initial decision toward eternity gets replaced with tips, techniques, doctrine, duty, obligation, and an endless list of to-dos. With destination and particular purpose unclear, we are like “infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching”…the journey can seem disjointed, unclear, and even unkind at times. What should be evocative, beautiful, and intoxicating to all who witness, has become dull and uninspired to all who lay eye on Dr. Alfred Jones’ expression…until he gets his Yemen in clear focus.
I was full-immersion Christian where every activity, practice, and input was God-breathed. I was doing all the right things that all the right people said to do. I had extensive head-knowledge of God, but very little of the heart variety. A Strategic Life Plan process I went through with a SummitTrek (local-based executive coaching board) coach, changed everything. It helped redeem all the experiences of my story up to that point, awakened and clarified God-given desires and passions, and inspired me around a divine destination previously unknown.
Every day since has been different. Like snow-capped mountains melting in Spring, the deep freeze of Winter gave way to raging river. Not only is it a great ride, but it seems to inspire to test the waters of the invigorating, but uncertain adventure. The step of each coordinate gets more certain and the momentum seems to be more undaunted.
May you find clarity of purpose. May you take your place in the larger story of God. May your families, employees, and communities witness the expression of the grand adventure God intends for your life. May everyone who witnesses your journey uncontrollably require the same. May He be glorified by the very practice of our lives.