For the last several weeks I have researched and designed a curriculum for Third Half Advisors on finding one’s purpose. As I sifted through the literature it became clear to me that the challenge of finding purpose is that it is not a straight path, it’s more of a labyrinth. Once I embraced finding purpose as a journey of a labyrinth the curriculum design came together.
A labyrinth is a complex and circuitous path that leads from a beginning point to a center. A labyrinth can be calming. A walk through a labyrinth slows you down while you wind your way through the path. The most important concept is that it is about the journey not the destination. Labyrinth walking is often seen as a spiritual practice. Yet, labyrinths are also a powerful metaphor for exploring your purpose.
The challenge of exploring and naming one’s purpose is that it is a bit like walking a labyrinth in the fog. There is a center destination that is out there but how to get there is not always clear. The route to finding one’s purpose can not be rushed because you have to wind, twist, turn, and pause to discover your purpose. A purpose driven life is a walk in a labyrinth.
Alice Eagly and Linda Carli wrote about women leaders and the labyrinth. They believe that “breaking through the glass ceiling” is not an appropriate metaphor any more because there are many women in leadership roles. They wrote… “A better metaphor for what confronts women in their professional endeavors is the labyrinth. As a contemporary symbol, it conveys the idea of a complex journey toward a goal worth striving for. Passage through a labyrinth is not simple or direct, but requires persistence, awareness of one’s progress, and a careful analysis of the puzzles that lie ahead. For women who aspire to top leadership, routes exist but are full of twists and turns, both unexpected and expected. Because all labyrinths have a viable route to the center, it is understood that goals are attainable. The metaphor acknowledges obstacles but is not ultimately discouraging.”
These insights are helpful in the journey to discover one’s purpose. The metaphor empowers us to think about exploring and naming our purpose as:
- A complex journey toward a goal worth striving for.
- The journey requires persistence, awareness of one’s progress and careful analysis of the purpose puzzle.
- A path to purpose is filled with twists and turns, both unexpected and expected.
- There is a path to the center of the purpose labyrinth and therefore an inspiring metaphor as one discovers purpose.
I have met many people who are evaluating their sense of purpose during the pandemic. Perhaps, the place to begin is at a labyrinth. Perhaps visiting the online labyrinth locator will help you on your journey to discovering your purpose.