Life & Style

Adam Leipzig on How to Know Your Life Purpose in 5 Minutes (Full Transcript)

[Audience shouts]

Terrific. Now we’re going to put this all together kind of in a sentence, OK? Everyone together, louder than the people in the tent: who are you?

[Audience responds]

What do you do?

[Audience responds]

Who do you do it for?

[Audience responds]

What do they want or need?

[Audience responds]

How do they change as a result?

[Audience responds]

Fantastic. You have all just done something that people who went to Yale could not figure out for 25 years.

Congratulations. Give yourselves a hand.

Now, why is that formulation so powerful? Because of all of those five things that you need to know to know what your life purpose is, only two are about yourself. The other three of them are about other people: who they are, what they want or need, and how they change as a result.

That formulation forces you to be outward facing. And all the happier people that I met outside the tent on that warm New Haven night they were outward facing, they were not inward facing. They knew very clearly whom they served, what those people needed, and how those people changed as a result.

And you may have intuited this already that the most successful people in any field always focus most on the people that they serve than on how they are served themselves.

Happier people make it a point to make other people happy, and do things that make them feel well taken care of and secure. If you make other people happy, life teaches us, we will be taken care of, too.

So since you all did so well, we have time for just a little bit of extra credit.

One of the most difficult things that happens when you meet people for the first time is they ask you this question, “So, what do you do?”

And, if you’re like some of us, that’s a really challenging question sometimes. Particularly, if you’re in these moments where you’re between things, or you’re feeling vulnerable, or it isn’t defined. Or, what you seem to do isn’t what you really do, or what you’re paid to do isn’t how you define yourself.

So, when people ask you this question, “So, what do you do?” and also, you’ve got this mental monologue going on, “Why is he asking me? So, what do I do? Is it because…” It’s that transactional thing where it’s like: “He wants to know if he should really spend time talking to me?”

Or, it’s that other thing, so he can tell me what he does because he’s sure it’s, “Oh, really, so much better than what I do?” Right?

So, when somebody asks you that question, here’s what you do: you just say the very last thing you called out, how what you do changes the people you do it for.

So, for example, you might say, “I give kids awesome dreams”, if your life purpose is: “I write books for children, so they can fall asleep at night, so they can have awesome dreams.”

Or you might say: “I help people look and feel their best,” if your life purpose is: “I design apparel for men and women who need affordable choices, so they can look and feel their best.”

Or you might say: “I help people get great work into the world,” if your life purpose is: “I train entrepreneurs and creative people to take decisive actions, so they can get their greatest work into the world.”

And then, that little snippet that you just said becomes your personal elevator pitch. And it will always start a conversation because the person that you were just talking to has to ask you a question, “How do you give kids great dreams?”

“How do you help people look and feel their best?”

“Can people really get their greatest work into the world?”

And then you get to tell them, and you get to share your life purpose. And you get to share how they may come to learn theirs, too.


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By Pangambam S

I have been a Transcriber and Editor in the transcription industry for the past 15 years. Now I transcribe and edit at If you have any questions or suggestions, please do let me know. And please do share this post if you liked it and help you in any way.