In an attempt to gain more clarity about my passion and purpose at this point in my life I decided to do some research on the subject. I read three books to discover how others had found their purpose to see if I might gain insights from them that would help me to discover what that would mean for me. I began by reading Oprah’s new book, The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose.

According to Oprah, everyone has a purpose and it is important to find out what that purpose is as soon as possible. She knew what her purpose was from a very young age but points out that not everyone is that fortunate. Oprah interviews inspiring luminaries in many different fields who share their lessons learned while on their journey to finding purpose. They include a broad range of people like Michael Beckwith, Ellen Degeneres, Jay-Z, Gary Zukav and many others. A key theme of the book is to identify your purpose and create a life of significance.

The second book I read was Something To Live For: Finding Your Way In The Second Half of Life by Leider and Shapiro. The authors share what they learned from a journey to Africa where they encountered tribal elders and engaged them in discussions to gain insights about life’s purpose. They reflect on experiences in their own lives and the stories shared by their companions and the elders that are examples of lives well lived. The major themes were the importance of using your gifts to help others and leaving a legacy of service.

And the last book was that of Barbara Braham, Finding Your Purpose: A Guide to Personal Fulfillment. Her book is more pragmatic. She takes a practical approach to finding purpose and provides questions for the reader to answer and exercises to complete. The objectives of her book are to 1) define life purpose, 2) reveal attitudes that prevent achieving purpose, and 3) to present truths about a life guided by purpose. Braham uses a framework called The Five Masks. She suggests that masks can hide our passion and until we take them off we are not able to answer the question “What is my Purpose?”

The goal of all three books is the same. They offer guidance for us to use as we contemplate what our purpose is. I found Oprah and Leider and Shapiro’s books to be more philosophical but the stories of how others found their purpose were helpful. I was struck by the fact that all the authors think that our purpose should be focused on helping others. After I worked through the exercises in Braham’s book and reflected on the insights from the other two books I was able to identify my passions and develop my own statement of purpose.