When we get clear about our purpose, it’s so much easier to tap our fearlessness, make tough decisions and lead others to achieve their greatest potential. Clarity of purpose – and living by it daily – is rare. That’s why Marcus Krause’s story is so inspirational.
Marcus is a wedding photographer whom I met 16 years ago when he took photos of our ceremony. We stayed in touch, and when he shot some business portraits for us recently, I could hardly believe what he had been through. What he told me gave me such a clear picture of purpose that I knew I wanted to tell his story to you.
A Picture of Purpose
Marcus gave me a big hug after arriving for the photo shoot. We talked briefly about family and his beloved Alabama football team. As he set up the best spot for the photos, our conversation turned to travel, and he revealed that he had been putting in some miles on a new motorcycle.
“What are you doing on that thing?” I teased him. “Be careful. What inspired that?”
“Well, I had a good reason for buying it,” he said.
Marcus is in his early 50s. Maybe this was a midlife crisis, I thought.
“I have Stage 4 lung cancer.”
Whoa! Had Marcus really said what I had heard? He filled us in.
Marcus hadn’t paid much attention when a persistent cough developed, or when it look him longer to recover from one of his long rides on his road bike. When he started to experience symptoms similar to the flu, X-rays showed an inch-sized tumor on his bronchial tube. Despite chemo, the tumor doubled in size and cancer spread to other parts of his body before his doctors found a drug that could curb its growth.
“It’s been a year and a half,” he told me. “I decided I am not going to spend any energy on why this happened to me. None of this ‘why me?’ I’m going to focus on what I can to embrace each and every day.”
Clarity of Purpose Provides Greater Personal Freedom
Marcus’ statement was so clear that I could see him drinking in each day, appreciating the fact that he was breathing in and out. His mindset made other decisions, like buying the motorcycle, very clear. Marcus’ purpose helped him lean into his diagnosis and clarified what he did and didn’t want to spend his time on.
“The little stuff that used to get me worked up, none of that matters,” he said.
He seemed so much more open about what he believes and wants. Earlier this month, I wasn’t surprised that he opened up about his journey in this in-depth Wired article about a new type of blood test monitoring his tumor’s changing genetic structure. Even though he feels pretty good now, he faces the likelihood that the cancer will mutate and become resistant to the drug he is now on.
“When things get rough again, I’m just going to remember standing here looking at each of you,” he said in the article. “That’s going to inspire me to keep going.”
Purpose gives a person more freedom to choose and act without fear. As Marcus embraces each and every day, his strength teaches others to do the same. The influence that we carry with others is very important to consider when we talk about clarity of purpose.
The corporate executives who develop their mission statements at the Human Performance Institute, for instance, almost always focus on what they can do for others. Our purpose is tied to what makes us happy, and what makes us happy usually is intertwined with the people around us.
We can also learn from how Marcus describes his disease. He calls it “the beast,” and he likely will enter a clinical trial soon. A clear purpose can help you summon everything you need to tackle your beast—the forces and obstacles working against your success.
Perhaps most important, a clear purpose can drive consistent behavior that helps us live and love better. Marcus’ story is so profound to me because he so quickly shifted his focus, managed his energy, got ride of the negative “why me?” energy and accepted his diagnosis so he could maximize every day.
What if we could all be more like Marcus?
Deeper into a Purposeful Mindset
When I asked him more about his mindset, Marcus told me:
I don’t know why acceptance came quickly for me other than that is what I was seeking through prayer. I was trying to balance my spiritual, emotional and logical sides. My logical side told me that if my life was almost certainly going to be short then It would be best to dispel with the fear and worry in favor of seeking joy all around me.
I once heard a sermon that referenced a hymn that is popular in black churches entitled, “Lord Don’t Move the Mountain.” Lord, don’t move my mountain but give me the strength to climb. That pretty much summed up my prayer. It was not a cure I prayed for, but strength.
To be clear, I am not always in a state of bliss but I sure can find many things to be grateful for each day and I review these things every night when I lay my head on the pillow. Gratitude seems to push all else aside.
How does one enjoy the blessings that can accompany a crisis without actually experiencing the crisis? I suppose it can be done, but not easily. I would suggest spending some time with someone who is displaying a positive attitude while in crisis.
I felt so fortunate that didn’t have to look for that someone. Marcus was that person, exuding so much inspiration from his clarity of purpose.
Marcus is a picture of clarity and purpose. Thank you Marcus.
Your Game Changer Takeaway
The call to live like we are dying is more than a country song. Marcus and other people in our lives who face unfathomable crises inspire us because they are so clear about their purpose. They remind us that we don’t have to let the pace of work and distractions constantly pull us away from what really matters to us. A clear purpose often reflects awareness of and appreciation for the influence we carry with others. If your purpose seems elusive, or your personal mission statement is missing or inadequate, explore what you do best for the others who are closest to you and what you uniquely can offer them. You don’t have to be in crisis to get clear on your purpose.
Molly Fletcher helps inspire and equip game changers to dream, live and grow fearlessly. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working with elite athletes and coaches as a sports agent, and applies them to the business world. Her e-learning courses spark both personal growth for individuals and corporate development for organizations. Sign up here to receive our monthly newsletter.