How can you unlock your authentic purpose?
Jeff Lovell is an expert guide and coach for authentic living, and he will lay out a path for unlocking your own purpose.
Connect with Jeff Lovell
The Leader’s Garden by Mark Tilsher
Full Episode 19 Transcript
Welcome to episode 19 of the New Generation Leader podcast unlocking your authentic purpose with Jeff. Lovell. Jeff is an expert guide and coach for authentic living and a good friend. I’m excited for today’s conversation. Let’s dive in. Welcome to the New Generation Leader. We’re giving you the tools you need to lead in the digital world, ready to reach your true potential. Let’s get started. Welcome to the New Generation Leader podcast. Well Jeff, welcome to the podcast. Today. I’m excited to have you. I’m excited for other people to meet you.
Um glad to have you. Yeah, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for the invitation. Absolutely. So give us a little snapshot about your story where you’ve been, What brought you to where you are today? Sure, Well today it’s easier for me to rewind than to go back to the beginning and and fast forward. So today I am an expert guide and coach. I help a successful creative executives and founders who are great at work uh and they long to be great at life. I help them to build and design a life that they love with people they love while still accomplishing their best stuff.
I think the easiest way to say how did I get there is I learned a lot of lessons, the hard way I spent the last 20 years working with people in a variety of settings. I spent plenty of years as a pastor. Lead pastor, student ministries pastor. Um and a lot of that work was really helping people figure out the hard parts of life and begin to move into living a kind of life that they long to live. And I found that that’s what I loved doing, That’s what I was actually especially good at.
And um over the last 5 to 6 years spent a lot more time coaching more and more time coaching and in the last year have transitioned into full time coaching work with the great life project, helping people design a life they love, so that’s gonna be the shortest. My wife would be impressed to hear that version of that story. Do you ever have that exchange with your wife for kids where they are still not quite exactly certain what it is that you do or have you kind of surpassed that mostly on a daily basis, which actually takes me back to when I was a kid.
We would have that conversation and I still have no idea what my dad’s day to day job was. Let’s talk about unlocking your authentic purpose, where where, where do you find authentic purpose? Yeah, well I think even to rewind a little bit more of my story there, I think there was a point where we were all trying to chase the next mountain. You know, I was a leader. I was a senior leader in a number of organizations and there’s always the next mountain decline the next thing you’re trying to achieve and I kept running into some of the same obstacles again and again and I finally had a coach that was willing to ask me a hard question.
Say what if the next chat, what if the real challenge you’re facing isn’t out there somewhere, What if it’s in here somewhere? And um I thought that was a brilliant question, I thought it was very helpful and it sent me on this new journey of kind of discovering some things that were going on inside of me and one of those things was the sense of, of authentic purpose. Like, am I willing to have the courage to to know myself well enough to lead myself well and to become the best version of who I want to be?
I don’t know that I know that one of the questions I’ve heard you ask people that I love is that what would you tell your 20 year old self? What advice would you give to your 20 year old self? And I’ve thought a lot about that heading into today, and I think if I could just Grab a hold of 20 year old Jeff and look him in the eye and say if you have the courage to, to slow down and figure out who it is you really are, who you really want to be and then boldly live.
Like that was true, uh you’d be amazed how your life might turn out. I think the reason I would give myself that advice is because I feel like I spent so many years chasing a whole lot of other versions of me that maybe we’re not authentic and so I think that’s even where some of my passion today has come for, for helping people discover and live a kind of authentic purpose. Uh if we’re asking, where does authentic purpose come from? I think one of the places I often start with, people say, well let’s spend a little bit of time talking about inauthentic purpose.
Uh there are these other versions of you that are out there, right? There is the version that other people want you to be, whether that’s your parents or your, your spouse, your kids, your family, your friends, uh there’s the versions you think people want you to be, there’s the versions people will pay you to be, I think, you know, I, I started off early in my, my career, I had a lot of success, but part of the challenge of that success is that it sent me down roads that probably weren’t true to who I really was, it wasn’t me at my best, it was just me earning the best paycheck possible.
Um and I think I spent a lot of time chasing those kind of, you know, in authentic versions of me until one day, those things kind of you wake up and say wait a second, you know, I have, it’s kind of this, this candy coating shelf, right, it’s, it’s sweet and pretty on the outside, but on the inside, it’s kind of a melty mess. Um, and so you know, what, what would it look like to you instead of trying to be all those versions yourself. Where do we what do we, what are some better questions we can begin to ask to help us find authentic purpose.
Yeah, that 20 year old self question I think is so important because I like you followed a similar career path and I always thought, hey, I never learned these things. That was the problem with my educational journey. And what I’ve discovered is nobody learns these things. Now I’ve had to stop saying nobody learns these things because I’ve started teaching these things in academic settings. Um, and in one of those, you know, in the search for authentic self. Once you just highlighted that we we have these narratives, we have these stories of who, who actually are we, that we tell ourselves.
And I had a student this semester who I did an exercise that I think is start part of the great Life project that you use. Um, I used one of those exercises in a class setting and as he started to wrestle with who am I? I said, okay, and I’ll turn to your neighbor and he got up in tears and walked out of the classroom and I thought, what did I just do wrong? I I screwed up big time. Now, now this was early in the semester at a new school, I was pretty nervous anyway, but I did what I, I knew to be the best next step.
Um and I reached out to him, I used our, our messaging app in our class management system, I said, hey, just checking in, he said, oh no, everything is fine, thank you so much for that exercise. I was like first mind blown that you’re thanking me for this because that’s not where I thought this was going. Um but then he said, you know, I’ve had all of these weights on my shoulders, I’ve had these burdens, I’ve had these experiences, I thought it was just me, but in class today I discovered for the first time it’s not just me and so to think about how we can unlock that so early, have that impact, develop that self awareness earlier in life.
Um I tell this story so often that this pursuit, this question started asking my friend norm as he was approaching retirement norm, what do you wish you could have told yourself earlier in your career, what you learn later that you wish you had had more time to work with and and I’m excited for creative leaders to work with you to start to uncover that. So talk a little bit more, what’s what’s your pathway? How are you unlike? Well, it’s interesting that the flip side of all this erin is that, you know, research over consistently over the last 20 years, whether it’s the Harvard grant project or even a recent book by like daniel pink but brawny wear has done some amazing research on this.
Uh she writes about the top five regrets of the dying, Right? Like if you could go back and tell your 20 year old self like that, if we can start out right, that’d be amazing. But the the the the flip side is also true. Most people at the end of their life, the number one regret that shows up over and over again is I wish I had had the courage to live a life true to myself. I wish that I’d had the courage to figure out who I really am.
So I think a lot of people, it’s a common, it’s a common story. Most of my clients, most of your clients, if we had an honest conversation, there’s there’s this search for purpose. Not everybody uses that language. Sometimes it’s a search for meaning or I feel like there’s got to be something more or something is missing. But all of that comes back to this idea of, of where do I find purpose and part of the pathway I help people walk down is is, well, where are you looking for it?
Right. Well, most people are searchers for purpose and there’s all kinds of things that they kind of give us that narrative and you know, maybe it’s our there’s these cultural narratives of of what what a success and purpose look like that. The community that you grew up in, or the community you currently live in has its own definitions of that, you know, your family of upbringing is part of that. If you’re in a certain profession or career path, there are definitions of what is purpose and success and meaning look like, you know, maybe you have a certain lifestyle that you’re going after.
If your gender, your sexuality, your faith, all of those things are are these things that we look to when we try to grab ahold of and and try to make a handhold for our sense of purpose? Uh, the trick with all of that is, um, those are all external things, right? And they can all shift. They can all change. What happens if you move? What happens if you get fired? What happens if you get divorced? What happens? Um, if you have kind of a crisis of faith, all those things, if we are are seekers of purpose are external.
And so part of the pathway we walk people down is is what if we didn’t just have to be seekers of purpose? What if purpose isn’t just out there somewhere. But what if we can actually become bring ear’s of purpose? What if there’s actually something already present inside of us that we can bring into the world, that we can bring into our family, that we can bring to our faith to our sexuality, to our community, to our profession, that we possess a sense of purpose and meaning and and value that we already have that?
We can bring to all those places. So that’s part of it is that we don’t just go from, from seekers of purpose when we go to bring ear’s of purpose. That’s such a powerful mindset shift for us to realize that we all have something to contribute. We all have something unique to bring value, to add a voice to contribute to our team, to our company, but also to our families and our friends. Um our friend Mark’s Hillshire, his book. Um, it just came out last week and I’ve I’ve been reading my way through it and and one of the statements that he left at the end uh, in one of the later chapters I thought was so powerful.
Uh, and we’ll link to Mark’s book, the Leaders Garden in the show notes. Um he says, you know, have you told these people, your kids, your important team members, have you imparted on them the vision you had for their future? Have you given them hope about the purpose that you see and you know, I’m a pretty action oriented guy that night, my youngest kid, I spent, You know, just 15, 20 seconds and I said, I see in you a great future and I laid that out for her. Um it’s it’s such a powerful thing for us.
Like you said to shift from, let me go find it? Let me pursue it too. Hey, it’s in me, I have it. How can I open that door and bring that? Um, and I love, I love what you did there as a dad because you’re calling up purpose, you’re actually helping them locate the purpose, right? It’s already in you. Um, and and calling it up in them. That’s a beautiful thing you did. Yes. It’s in some moments it’s easier to do than others. Let’s, let’s be honest, Last night, in our 19 to nothing to feed on the softball field, it was a little more difficult to find.
Well, purpose doesn’t just come from the winds right there. Well, and even in the, the Great Life project, like one of the final parts of that is that we all long to make a lasting contribution. But again, if we, if we locate that outside of ourselves first, um, we’re trying to build something that is inauthentic and so we always start with authentic purpose, helping people, you know, mind their own story, their own, their own kind of superpowers and passions. You know, again, another part of that that pathway is if, if authentic purposes in me, okay, maybe I can make that, that mindset shift that.
It’s not just out there somewhere for me to seek, but, but then how do I recognize how to identify and define that in me? A lot of my clients come to me, there’s like the pain is real when we don’t have authentic purpose like that, that sense of something is missing or I’m just going through the motions. You know, I’m showing up to work every day, but I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. You know, those questions are real. They feel especially real at two a.m.
when you’re still awake. Um, and so there’s because that pain is so real. People want a quick solution. They want to say, you know, just what do I need to change? And they start naming off the suggestions right? Like if I could just change the activity, if I could change my job or my career, if I moved, you know, maybe if I live in the city, I want to move out of the city. If I live, if I moved into the city, I’d feel better or if I moved closer to family, you know, we, we want to change all the things.
Uh, if I got another, took another classify, got a coach, if I earned a degree, if I, you know, got married or ended a marriage. I mean, people are willing to do whatever it takes right to, to fill that hole. But all of those things come back to what do I do and those are all just, what do I do questions and what I do is never going to answer the purpose question because what I do is actually an overflow and outflow of, of purpose. It’s not a it’s not a way to find purpose.
So rather than helping people just change their activity. One of the keys to our coaching into our process is to help them clarify identity, because clarifying identity is about who I am, and when you know who you are, then what you do will take care of itself. If I know who I am, uh you know, I can I can bring that to whatever job I’m in. It’s not saying you should never change your job, but but just changing your job, you’re going to still show up as you at the next job.
And if you haven’t gotten clear on that, who all kinds of other, you’re just you’re just carrying over the pain, that the same pain it’s gonna overflow into your new place. So, so we slow down and help people get clear on their identity. You know, I know that’s something you love to do. We we use tools like the five voices, I know your listeners are familiar with some of that work where we can help people figure out their superpowers and their triggers and their weapons. We look at your story.
The beautiful part about our story is that it, you know, it’s not just the highs of our story, that that point to our purpose, It’s actually some of the lows, low points in um in our story contribute to that as well. I know I’ve heard you share parts of your story before and, you know, parts of my story, r r you know, some of my most painful hard parts are actually where you kind of recognize some passion and things you care about, and and I don’t want that to happen to other people.
And so again, getting clear on identity, a sense of who I am, then brings us back to authentic purposes, then overflows into what I do in the world. So that’s part of our pathway. That’s great. But, you know, as you’re just touching on, and I know some of the stories that that you and I have shared back and forth, I’ve had this realization recently that there’s one particular story and I was writing this story out last week because I’ve told it, I’ve told it to you, I’ve told it to two other friends and confidants FI’ve talked about it with um with kim, my wife and other friends who are close and and I’ve reflected on this, but I had this realization that if I keep talking about this and using it as an anchor point, the wrong kind of anchor point, that story can can drag me down, because I keep looking back to that one story.
And so I needed to shift my mindset to what’s the lesson here? What am I learning and taking away from this? And and really truly in this story, for me, it was about what is it that I learned about myself and other people that’s going to inspire and guide me to what’s to come. So I’ve written about it, we’ll we’ll continue to talk about this story, but but I I realized I needed to separate the anchoring of that story and where it was potentially dragging me down to using it as a hope filled life giving um pursuit of purpose in my life.
Is it is it an anchor or a launch pad? Right? Yes, exactly, exactly. Um well, it reminds me like, I think a lot of people think that there’s some new version of themselves out there that needs to be discovered versus this unpacking of all the ingredients that you’ve you’ve kind of gathered throughout your life. You know, middle school, Jeff was showing like there were things that were true about me back then, that are still true about me now, right? For better or worse. Um you know, I was still a geeky kind of spastic kid, uh I’m still that guy, right?
But but it’s a more mature version, but also middle school Jeff saw possibilities in people and and knew how to show up for people and and bring out the best in them. Um I think that was true me early in my career, and now the more mature, fruitful version of that is bringing people to the great life project as well. Yeah, absolutely, and I think there is so much, and like you just said, it’s like these two light bulbs and I, I put this tool down and um, I’ve shared it with a few people that we tend to go from one extreme to the other.
We tend to, like you said, the anchor point and we see, oh, a launching pad, let’s go to the other extreme when really there’s something about both that we need to meld together. We need to put these pieces together and wrestle with, how do we take this to the next level? Not just choose one or the other. Your example a few minutes ago of a job, a career, maybe pursuing a new one will help me figure this out. Maybe uh, changing a relationship, will help me figure this out.
I had a student this semester in one of my classes who was wrestling with a key family relationship that really had been detrimental and she wrestled with that throughout the semester. And so we look at it in this either or sense, there’s so much that we look at as either or the polarity. Um, but when we find where we can learn meld together, put pieces together, find not only a compromise, but the next level. Yeah, I think this is part of what’s unlocking your authentic purposes, recognizing, hey, it’s not just either or, but we can, we can truly take things to the next level.
Yeah, that the power of, and in there is is amazing. You know, I heard, I heard that, that um in one of my classes this semester we were reading about the creative process at Pixar and I think it’s Pixar has defined there are no buts in our conversations it’s it’s a yes and culture. Um and and my daughter this week had that uh play out, she’s on the S. C. A. At her school and this was supposed they were supposed to have a spirit day this week and she kept referring back to the theme for the spirit day being her idea that then turned into Spirit week.
She was like, it was my idea and it became spirit week. And I said, you know what you’ve got there is by working together by collaborating. You unlocked something greater than Spirit Day, which yes, that was your idea. And it was a yes and moment. Put something together with somebody else and they’ve had neon all week. She planned out her wardrobe all week long. And as she joked, somebody in her class said, these are fourth graders, what’s neon? And another student said, just dressed like a highlighter. Nice.
But it’s a great lesson in a 10 year old’s mind that I love it. I love it Well. And I think about the power of and is I think a lot of people put a put the but in their story right, like there’s the painful parts of our story, the power of and actually goes back and reclaims redeems even the painful hard parts of our story. I think a lot of people when they think about purpose, it’s kind of like getting past and over the hard parts, whereas I say why waste that?
Right? Like those are some of the most powerful forming moments of our life and most of us would would agree with that, we can kind of look back and say that hard part made me who I am today, and yet a lot of people are, you know, we’d rather kind of berry that or not talk about it, but but I found that in, you know, kind of acknowledging the hard parts of our story and our willingness to share the more. Um well even sometimes feel like failures or the parts that would rather hide um everybody’s got those parts of their story and when we when we’re willing to go there and find the redeeming path for that, it it recast the story and it and it keeps it authentic because I think the inauthentic story again is the ones that don’t have any pain, the ones that don’t have any hardship or failures.
Great, well Jeff, what what does it look like for people to work with you and the Great Life Project? We currently have two different versions that people often participate in for those who are ready to get going, I’d often say that that creating a great life is not a Sprint, but some people are ready to give it a really focused group, uh really group of days and weeks. So we’ve got 100 day sprint version that in the course of three months we hone in on your most important part of the Great Life Project.
Others are ready to take a more uh casual stroll. Maybe not casual, but a more leisurely stroll. Because leisurely stroll, it’s it’s hard work, they’re both hard work whether you’re sprinting or, you know, going a little bit deeper into the woods of things. So, we’ve got also a yearlong process that we can lead people through the year long processes is powerful. It’s, it is a transformational journey. It does not just hit the one most pressing need, but really takes people on a deep dive through all the parts of your life to authentic purpose.
To really getting super intentional with building meaningful and lasting relationships and even uncovering some of the land mines that often float around in most of our relationships, uh developing and mastering hitting mastery with life giving practices, you know, mastering your calendar, your habits, your tendencies so that your days, weeks, months and years become really intentional and then ultimately having a plan for your next season of life, so that, you know, I think the 100 day Sprint version is what am I going to do in this season of life and the the the year long version really sets people up for my next season of life.
So those are the two ways people most often get involved with working with the Great Life Project. Uh there’s more details and all that is on my website. I’m sure you’ll put that in the show notes as well. Absolutely. We will, we will link to all of that at New Generation Leader dot com slash 19 for episode 19. Um Yeah, that’s fantastic. And I’ve I’ve watched people take the intensive approach and the leisurely approach um to development and learning more, discovering more about themselves. And and like you said, it’s none of it is easy work.
It is hard work to look inside of yourself, but when you do that, like you said, I love the the look that you are casting out a vision for what’s coming in the next season, it changes the course of what’s coming next, when we have more clarity on what’s going to bring us a great life, you’re going to spend this next season working on all kinds of things. As I like to say, your life is your most important project. Make sure it gets some of your best attention right now as well.
That’s that’s great. Well Jeff anything else that we haven’t touched on? I don’t think so. You we’ve had a great conversation. Yes, Well, um it’s I’ve enjoyed hearing more. Uh not only today, but over the past few months about what you’ve been up to with the Great Life Project, the work that you are doing to unlock creative leaders and I’m excited for leaders to journey with you, to unlock more potential about themselves, their story, their future. Um, so I’d encourage you to check out Jeff’s website. All those links will be on the show notes page at New Generation Leader dot com slash 19.
And Jeff thanks so much for being on today’s show. Um, and giving us a little bit more about the Great Life Project. Um look forward to seeing how you continue to impact people around you. And I would put you on the hot seat, but you took the question earlier in the show. So, Eddie, let’s take a more casual approach to this. Anything else. Um, More light hearted that you would share with your 20 year old self. I definitely would have some investing advice. I’ve got a few key stocks that would be uh, be good investments or if for those of you who are more of the Kentucky Derby fans, I’ve got a recommendation for the long shot in 2022.
There you go. Yes. I asked this question as the semester wrapped up, I asked it on linkedin to give some live advice to my class on the last uh, in the last lecture. And it was funny, a couple of people said, invest in crypto or, you know, various pieces of investment advice. Um, we’re good. Well, Jeff thanks so much for being on the show today. Uh looking forward to continuing to follow your journey again. Check out Jeff connect with him all that and more on the show notes at New Generation Leader dot com slash 19.
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