Flagging A Global Purpose #11 #cong22


An idea to move us from purpose washing to unifying under a global flag

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Purpose-washing is alive and well
  2. We need collective identity
  3. We can transcend boundaries and border
  4. A global identity for a global purpose

About David Gluckman

David Gluckman was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on 1st November 1938, the day that Sea Biscuit and War Admiral fought out the Race of the Century at Pimlico Park, Baltimore.  Educated in Johannesburg, he joined a local advertising agency after university and soon fell in love with business. He made the pilgrimage to London in 1961 and worked as an account executive on the introduction of Kerrygold butter into the UK.  Always a frustrated creative, he escaped into brand development in 1969, met a man from a drinks company called IDV, and his life changed forever. A lover of cricket, he considers his greatest achievement bowling the West Indian legend, Joel Garner, first ball in a pro-am 6-a-side tournament.

In 1973 David invented Baileys, the world’s most successful cream liqueur, which has since sold over 1.25 billion bottles.

Contacting David Gluckman

You can connect with David on LinkedIn or see his book ‘That Sh*t Will Never Sell’

By David Gluckman

There’s a lot of talk about purpose by brands these days.  In a way it reminds me of ‘sportswashing’.  People will forget about torture and abuse as long as they have the opportunity to love their local football team, whoever owns it. And if it’s winning, people conveniently forget who the owners really are.

I suppose purpose is a convenient way of helping people forget about the real issues.  If a gambling company offers to become carbon neutral by 2030, does that become their purpose, rather than persuading the less well-off to part with their hard-earned money in a futile bid to get rich.

Everybody knows the house ALWAYS wins.  So carbon neutrality is all very well, as we make our way to the food bank.

One of the more exciting takes on purpose cropped up a year or so ago when I had occasion to have a Zoom conversation with a 30-something Swedish fellow called Oskar Pernefeldt.  Oskar had come up with a brilliant idea.  A world flag.

Think about it.  Religion has a flag that enables it to transcend borders and boundaries.  It may not always be comfortable, but you can be Catholic in Buenos Aires or Budapest.  Or a Jew in Johannesburg or Jeddah. Your religion is the flag that binds you together.

I heard an eminent scientist the other day say that even if the UK can become carbon-neutral by 2050 or whenever, all it takes is a couple of mega-cities in China or India to cancel out all our efforts.  Or another mad Putin war.

We need a collective identity that makes us all feel part of a Global whole.  Jews feel that.  Catholics and Muslims too.  And there has been some success in uniting the Gay community across the world.  They all have flags of a kind.

 So why not all of us?  When will we begin to feel we are citizens of the planet?  We have a common cause now that will affect the survival of everyone.  We have to band together to reverse Climate Change.  A global identity to which we all espouse is a great start.

You definitely have something there, Oskar.  Build it and they will come.

Discovering and Sharing your Purpose #10 #cong22


This is a story about finding my purpose.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. You can discover your purpose
  2. If you don’t know yet, make decisions that keep your options open
  3. Take some time out – travel, study, read books – find out what you value
  4. When you find your purpose, share it with others

About Cronan McNamara

Cronan is the founder and CEO of Creme Global. Creme Global is a data science technology company delivering data management, scientific models and predictive analytics. Cronan enjoys technology and innovation and is driven to deliver world-class products and services, from Ireland, that make an impact globally. Cronan is also an Adjunct Professor at UCD and in his spare time, he enjoys playing competitive tennis and spending time with his family.

Contacting Cronan McNamara

You can follow Cronan on Twitter, LinkedIn or check out Creme Global

By Cronan McNamara

Discovering your Purpose

You get one go at life, so my thinking is that you may as well try to achieve something great and work on something you enjoy as you do it.

What your ‘something great’ or the ‘something you enjoy’ is up to you. And while you’re thinking about what yours is going to be, I’ll tell you about how I stumbled across mine.

You could describe it as discovering your purpose. It is not something that happens all at once, and perhaps you can only really join the dots looking backwards (as Steve Jobs once famously said), but I would argue that you probably know it deep down, somewhere in your intuition, from a fairly young age.

It is not something we think about a huge amount every day. But, of course, there are some crucial life junctures like – should I go to college? Should I take a year out or start a full-time job? Should I start my own company? What should I study? What industry would be good to work in?

These can be daunting questions and the options may seem overwhelming. As a young person, you are unlikely to be sure of the answers. So, if you are unsure, I would suggest you make decisions that keep your options as open as possible. The lean/agile philosophy – just plan your next step based on what you know now.

To help get some perspective, take some time out, do something different like travel, read books, take up a new study course or a new hobby or sport. Use the downtime and new experiences to daydream about the vision for your life. This may help you to uncover the things that are important to you and that you are really interested in.

During school, I had an aptitude for maths and science, so I chose to study science at UCD and picked Physics, Maths, Mathematical Physics and Chemistry in first year. In second year, I dropped Chemistry and then in third year, I had to make a choice (from those remaining three subjects) of which field I wanted to specialise in for my degree.

I was struggling to make a choice and I bumped into one of my friends, he said to me … “yeah, you’ve limited yourself, if only you had studied some biology in 2nd year, you would have more options”. Instead of this statement depressing me, I immediately feel better, as I realised I didn’t want to study biology, I love physics!

It immediately reframed my situation and I felt confident that I knew what I wanted to do. I chose Physics as the subject to specialise in for 3rd and 4th year and haven’t looked back. I had followed my gut in the past in choosing my path in an agile way and even when I doubted myself, I realised that the decisions I made in the past were sound and were working out OK.

I always loved to build things and during college, I found building computing models to simulate real-world situations to be very interesting. I also loved the challenge of competing in various sports, especially tennis, which is still something I do to this day.

So, from a creativity, challenge and competition point of view – the idea of starting my own business appealed to me. And naturally, the business that I wanted to create related to science, maths and computing. This was the ideal outlet for me. I found it to be a calling worthy of my efforts. You could say I found my purpose.

Sharing your purpose

I wanted the company to succeed and to be built to last. This meant two things: 1) the company must be highly aligned with my interests, so that I would be interested in it for the long term and 2) I would need a team to help me.

To build a team of like-minded individuals, it is important to articulate a purpose (vision and mission) so that others: customers, team members, stakeholders, etc. can understand and buy into it.

So, I articulate the purpose of Creme Global as clearly and as often as possible – in both my words and what I spend my time focusing on at work. A mentor of mine says ‘you have to be relentless and boring about this stuff’ so that it fully percolates through to the culture of your organisation.

Being the founder and CEO of the company, I was able to build a company whose purpose is highly aligned with my own. It provides me with fulfilling work and allows me to set a clear vision, mission and strategy for me, but more importantly for the team I work with.

To describe the purpose of our company, we articulated the vision, mission and values of the company. These are all built on the foundation of the company’s purpose.

That’s how I discovered my purpose and how my purpose became our purpose.

Come for the What, stay for the Why #9 #cong22


In this article, I outline the key factors for personal and organizational success: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Autonomy is the desire to steer our own ship, mastery is the desire to steer it well, and purpose is the need for the journey to mean something. When these three things come together, they will not only help us stay on course, they will also sustain our momentum and generate interest, support and loyalty in others. In practice, this requires us to “Start with Why”, and I illustrate this on the example of the purpose-driven task management system I built for myself.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Autonomy, mastery and purpose make a strong engine that fuels itself.

  2. For any undertaking, we tend to look at the “What” and the “How”. Starting with “Why” instead has many advantages.

  3. Loyalty is stronger than repeat business, and purpose is superior to passion.

  4. When we reconnect work to its purpose, our daily practice will be easier and more fulfilling.

About Jochen Lillich

Jochen is an entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in managing large-scale IT infrastructure. In 1990, he started his career as a freelance software developer. After getting a B.S. in Computer Science from Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, he founded a managed IT services business and shared his knowledge as a certified Linux trainer. He went on to manage IT teams at two of Germany’s leading internet technology companies. In 2010, Jochen founded freistil IT, a distributed team of web operations experts, which he is leading as Managing Director and CTO. He lives with his family near Dublin, Ireland.

Contacting Jochen Lillich

You can contact Jochen by email, MastodonSocial and Twitter 

By Jochen Lillich

Crises like the COVID pandemic or the war in Ukraine are life-altering events. And it appears that some people are better equipped than others to deal with these events and come out the other end well. There is a key factor in mastering challenges and succeeding against strong opposition, and it applies to business strategy and personal life just as much as it does to military operations. What is this key factor?

In his recent article on the war in Ukraine for The Journal, Tom Clonan explains how the Russian invasion of Ukraine is hampered by the rigid command and control structure of the Russian army.

The performance of Putin’s forces in these circumstances demonstrate poor morale, poor or non-existent command and control and an inability to react to a rapidly changing battlefield environment.

(Tom Clonan, “Putin’s running out of conventional military solutions to impose his will on Ukraine”)

The Russian military is still governed by an authoritarian, hierarchical command structure. Orders trickle down from the top, and leave officers on the ground little room for taking initiative or applying the latest local intelligence. Which is precisely what the Ukrainian troops are doing, without the constraints of having to “wait for orders or sanction to act from a General many kilometres to the rear.”

Higher autonomy of junior officers and local commanders isn’t Ukraine’s only advantage. Tom Clonan also observes a stark difference in competence and motivation between the warring parties.

Russian commanders appear unable – or unwilling – to independently problem solve and to use initiative and leadership to fight back. This inability to fight inexorably leads to panic and flight – a recurring feature among Russia’s troops thus far.

The Ukrainians, on the other hand, are highly motivated to fight. It is their mission to defend their homeland, a purpose that carries far beyond “this is a job I’m expected to do”. They can complement this drive with military skill; the Ukrainian forces benefit from their NATO training in recent years.

The strong positive influence of autonomy, mastery and purpose on achieving a goal applies just as well in civil life and in our everyday work.

When we look at today’s business challenges, we realize that the traditional “carrot and stick” tactic doesn’t get us where we want to be any more. (I’d hazard that it’s the same for parenting teenagers.) “Type X behaviour” is the term Daniel Pink coined for when people mainly seek external rewards while avoiding punishment. In his book “Drive”, he makes the case that “Type I Behaviour”, based on intrinsic motivation, is far more successful in the long term.

Behavioural science has found that there are three factors that foster intrinsic motivation the most: autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Type I behaviour is self-directed. It is devoted to becoming better and better at something that matters. And it connects that quest for excellence to a larger purpose.

(Daniel Pink, “Drive”)

When there is a sense of purpose at the centre of what we do, and we’re allowed to apply our growing skill set how we see fit, we not only have a strong engine that drives us forward, we can also generate our own fuel. Intrinsic motivation is renewable energy. Energy that others will be able to feel, too.

In his book “Start with Why”, Simon Sinek illustrates this radiating effect of a strong sense of purpose with a simple diagram consisting of three concentric circles. The outer circle is titled “WHAT”; it stands for the easy to discern actions we take. Inside it, there’s the “HOW” circle. When two people do the same thing, we’re likely to be more impressed by the person who displays better skills, more diligence, or even just visible pleasure at their task. Or take two businesses offering the same kind of product or service. The specific way one of them manufactures or implements their offering can be a major factor in our decision. However, this decision can be short-lived. A reduction in price by the competitor might quickly sway us. According to Sinek, creating loyalty instead of just repeat business is easier when there is a strong “WHY”, the centre of the diagram he calls the “Golden Circle”.

People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.

(Simon Sinek, “Start with Why”)

For example, some people in the tech space are continuously baffled by the success of Apple products. In their eyes, Apple customers are happily paying a premium for devices that will give them just the same level of quality and performance as their major competitors, and will even impose more constraints, for example in choice of software. But this view doesn’t consider the “WHY” that Apple is able to impart to their market. A striking example of how they imbue their products with purpose was their award-winning “1984” commercial for the newly launched Macintosh, in which an athlete in colourful clothing storms to the front of a grey, mindless mass of people watching the talking head of their leader on a giant screen, and proceeds to smash this screen with a sledgehammer. Another commercial later put the Apple attitude in words: “Think different”. The Macintosh did stand out of a sea of PC clones not only with its innovative user interface and case design (its “WHAT”), it also conveyed the purpose of unleashing the creativity and innovation in its users.

The purpose behind the design and creation of a product or service can be a strong differentiating factor. But only if this is confirmed rather than contradicted by its implementation.

If WHAT you do doesn’t prove what you believe, then no one will know what your WHY is and you’ll be forced to compete on price, service, quality, features and benefits; the stuff of commodities.

(Simon Sinek, “Start with Why”)

Entrepreneurs starting a business are often recommended to openly display the passion they have for their endeavour. But it’s important not to confuse being passionate with having a purpose. While it’s good to see when a business pursues their goals with energy, passion alone might not carry as far nor have the same strong impression on potential customers as a deep purpose. On its own, it’s not going to be sustainable. However, passion can be fuelled by a strong WHY, and it needs to be supported by the HOW.

The reason so many small businesses fail, however, is because passion alone can’t cut it. For passion to survive, it needs structure. A WHY without the HOWs, passion without structure, has a very high probability of failure.

(Simon Sinek, “Start with Why”)

Having a strong sense of purpose and letting it guide the way we do what we do is a strong foundation on which both organizations and individuals can thrive. After I realized this, I took the “Find your Why” course that Simon Sinek is offering online. A yellow ball with a smiley face that I have on my desk is a constant reminder of its results.

The power of purpose is also the reason why I’ve built myself a custom task management solution. I’m acutely aware that there are many apps and systems I could use to manage my daily work and reach my goals, and I’ve tried many of them. I found that all of them lacked one crucial part: the connection to the WHY behind all the busyness. On the surface, my home-brew solution has to-do items assigned to projects, just like every other task management tool. What makes my implementation different is that it focuses on purpose. First, instead of “project”, I’m using the term “outcome”. It represents the What that I’m trying to achieve. For example, the outcome of the task of writing this article is “Take part in CongRegation”. Then, there are the objectives, the actual goals I want to achieve by working towards a specific outcome; in other words, the Why behind the What. Each outcome/project is connected to an objective, and I write down a short sentence how it contributes to this objective. The objective behind my participation in CongRegation is “Build meaningful relationships”. Another outcome connected to the same objective is “Stay in contact”, a list of reminders to regularly get in touch with friends and family. On an even more abstract level, objectives are part of an “obligation”, a specific aspect of my life. The objective “Build meaningful relationships” is part of the obligation “Friends and network”, basically my social interactions. There are also obligations like “Joy and emotions”, “Health and fitness” and “Personality and learning”. With this structure, my task management system not only tells me that there’s never enough time to do it all (any to-do list would tell me that), but it also reminds me why I should try my best anyway, and it gives me the context I need in order to prioritize.

By the way, you will have spotted the alliteration of “Outcomes”, “Objectives” and “Obligations”. It allows me to call my system the “O-Zone”, or “O3” for short.

Yes, I’m a nerd. A nerd with a purpose.

Agonistic Purpose #8 #cong22


Agonism is most simply defined as the understanding that conflict is intrinsically involved in achieving positive outcomes.  Agonism understands that we, as humans, are driven by a purpose, multifaceted in presentation and scope.  One facet is our inherent “ability” (or need, as some would be inclined to say) to enjoin conflict to find resolution.  To be an agonist then, in my reductionistic definition, is to enjoin conflict with purpose to gain resolution.  In this submission, I discuss how agonism led to finding purpose in fighting (nee conflict) for the marginalized.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Purpose is often found WHILE in the middle of life
  2. Conflict, in its many forms, is necessary and inevitable. Embrace it.
  3. Being adversarial isn’t a negative. Rather, it’s purpose-driven.
  4. Fight for purpose and for those seeking it.

About Dave Graham

Dave Graham is a research technologist and the technology advocate lead for Dell Technologies’ Office of Research where he focuses on how technologies are integrated into organizations, society, and their potential for global transformation.  He is currently working on his PhD at University College Dublin – SMARTLab looking at how data is used to increase social agency.

Contacting Dave Graham

You can contact Dave by email  or follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

By Dave Graham

Oftentimes we view purpose as being a wholesome character trait or expression. We marvel at those with purpose: we create seminars and events about “finding purpose,” we have books in self-help about finding purpose, we flock to those who we believe “have it.” And yet, when push comes to shove, we struggle to actualize purpose in our lives. We believe that employment is purpose, that family presumes purpose, that vacations are purpose. Yet, when pushed, we stammer and stutter, having to search much deeper into our souls and hearts to find that volitional pool where purpose is drawn from, if we can find it at all.

I am no different. I am many things: a student, a husband, an employee, a human being. I have roles and responsibilities, actions directed by needs and desires and yet, I can find myself aimless, directionless, unfulfilled even in this fantastically ornamented life. I struggle with the ephemeral pursuit of purpose because, like everyone else, I assume that it is tied to a role, a responsibility, a moment. Finding or discovering purpose, then, is hard-fought yet, once encountered, it becomes the softest down upon which to rest your head. For me, it took the accidental discovery of agonism to find a footing upon which to establish purpose’s foundation in my life.

Agonism is most simply defined as the understanding that conflict is intrinsically involved in achieving positive outcomes. Oftentimes it is wrapped around the understanding of sociopolitical foment (pluralistic agonism), but for wont of a cleaner understanding, I’ve generalized its approach. Agonism understands that we, as humans, are driven by a purpose, multifaceted in presentation and scope. One facet is our inherent “ability” (or need, as some would be inclined to say) to enjoin conflict to find resolution. To be an agonist then, in my reductionistic definition, is to enjoin conflict with purpose to gain resolution. Rather than belabour this point, I suggest we look at a cogent example from our current social gyre to understand agonistic purpose.

I’ve talked previously about how certain American state governments have enacted legislation to restrict or remove individual sovereignty. As an example, Texas Senate Bills 8 and 1646 (SB8, SB1646) sought to create a bounty system for those seeking reproductive services (SB8) and forced Child Protective Services (CPS) to investigate families whose children were body or gender dysphoric, amongst other things (SB1646). While both of these bills are odious in ontology, they had a causal effect on society; namely, the emergence of agonism to counter their application. For example, SB8 provided a mechanism for reporting violations using a simple online form which would, in turn, be used to establish jurisdiction and validity for pursuing legal action. To many of us, this form presented an opportunity for agonistic action.

Our conflict was with SB8 and our purpose became the action of “poisoning the well” of data that the webform sought to draw on. By introducing data that was false, wrong, or otherwise close enough to real as to invalidate the baseline requirements for litigation, we sought (and are still seeking) to cause a systemic “break” in the enforcement and power that this particular bill has on Texas society and those seeking a basic human right. This is agonistic purpose in plain view.

Finding purpose is a struggle. Finding purpose that satisfies the whole self, not just pieces and parts, is a rarity. But once found, it has a powerful assembling force for knitting together the various streams and pieces of who you are into something that is unstoppable.

Purposeful Learning #7 #cong22


Purpose in learning is sometimes proposed to come from ‘real-life’ and ‘relevant’ curriculum. I argue that there is no replacement for learners developing purpose based on their interests, and the effectiveness and relevance will follow.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. ‘Real world’ in learning is not necessarily motivational or compelling;
  2. Learners can begin with their interests but will ultimately look outwards, seeking the best;
  3. Learners benefit from a critical negotiation to focus their learning;
  4. A learning community and a process curriculum can make it purposeful learning work!

About Richard Millwood

I am an educational designer, having made everything from apps to universities. I am now finding fulfilment with families in rural places all over Ireland, trying to encourage an interest in creative computing. The job is as a Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin tied to an SFI ‘Discover’ project – OurKidsCode –  to design and develop workshops which encourage parents to see computing as a fulfilling choice for their children’s future.

Contacting Richard Millwood

You can connect with Richard via email, Twitter or via his website richardmillwood.net

By Richard Millwood

I had no purpose when, at the age of 20, I joined the teaching profession without any training as a mathematics teacher in an inner London secondary school. The school was desperate, I had given up on being an astronaut, the job was only four days a week so I felt it a good transition from full time higher education while I pondered what I would do for the rest of my life.

Forty six years later, I am still in education, having experienced every level as a teacher and as an educational designer, completely hooked by the harsh experience of those early days teaching bolshy kids, not much younger than myself.

Those early days, the late seventies, were full of the pioneering efforts to improve education. Mixed-ability classes, real world curriculum and independent learning were discussed and developed in the staff room, not handed down from governments. Teachers were actively and collaboratively designing materials and systems to tackle the problem of purposeless learners. The best of them, like the SMILE Mathematics project, enjoyed huge popularity in the London schools and further afield, but ultimately failed as the expense in teacher time and organisation of such a complex projective way to simpler, but no better solutions. My small part in SMILE was to make a computer game which (unintentionally) proved to give learners purposeful practice with angles.

It took me a while to discover that our attempts to use real world ‘relevant’ materials, like bus timetables to teach time, were failing. The theory sounded good, but our learners just weren’t interested, for the most part, in how long a bus would take to go from Tower Bridge to Rotherhithe.

Fast forward to the mid nineties. A decade had been spent creating decision-making simulations on the computer which learners could control the economy, a production line or a biology experiment. Despite the interactivity, some worked, others failed, for similar reasons as the earlier bus timetable. I came across a new challenge – to improve the education of a challenging group: truants, school-refusers, ill children, travellers, agoraphobics and others for whom school did not fit. We called it NotsSchool (in Ireland a current derivative is called iScoil) and did it fully online. Such children had thus far been dealt with by visits from individual tutors – expensive, disjointed and ultimately failing. The tutors’ purpose was to return such children to school – doomed, for the same reasons they had abandoned school! We explicitly made it clear that was not NotSchool’s purpose, and did our best to avoid the trappings of school that some learners rejected. We focussed first on learners’ personal interests, helping them to research those interests and create, in the media and genre of their choice, artefacts that pleased them. We called them researchers. We helped them to fulfil their own purpose.

Fast forward to the mid noughties. We found ourselves looking to expand our university student numbers by addressing those for whom university did not fit. We called it Ultraversity. Fully online, it helped those who could not afford to go to university, had no confidence in their ability to do exams, were working full time, were caring full time etc. We used all the experience we had gained from NotSchool, but this time we invited our ‘researchers’ (students) to investigate and improve their work (or caring) practice, a purpose they readily identified with. We helped them fulfil this purpose, negotiating appropriate tasks, whilst developing the knowledge, craft and character of a researcher.

Finally, in the mid teens, it was my turn to fulfil my purpose through a PhD by Practice – I had been too busy to stop what I was doing earlier in my career and do a PhD in the traditional manner. Instead I now focussed on my own professional portfolio and my development of design heuristics, which I formulated as theses for my claim for doctorate. My evidence was my contribution to a collaborative practice over a lifetime.

Some think I am talking about ‘discovery learning’ when I describe these approaches to education, often argued to be too challenging. I believe learning is always a challenge, but acknowledge that the craft of learning through research must be supported. In fact I am simply making a simple point clear: learning is most effective when it is purposeful in the mind of the learner.  Each case has demonstrated to me that study will inevitably gravitate to the authority and value of the bodies of knowledge that humanity has recorded as effective, as learners seek solutions to problems they care about, and then make that knowledge their own. The deeper they are drawn in, the more ready they are to tackle theory and generalised knowledge, as they learn to love learning itself.

At Christmas, in a month’s time, I plan to visit my first grandson, aged four months. I expect to be part of his first steps in learning, deeply driven by his immediate purpose to move, communicate and play. There’ll be no doubt about who own’s the purpose in learning to walk, talk to his loved ones and enjoy life to the full.

Finding True Purpose #6 #cong22

William O'Connor


To really live you must have faith. You must trust yourself to the totally unknown, to a Nature which doesn’t have a boss because a boss is a system of mistrust.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Some of the things we perceive to be truly fundamental today may actually be just accidental.
  2. In the West we have made the truth our highest value but this is weak compared to the actual power of belief.
  3. Anxiety is the green light to seek your true purpose
  4. Here is the choice. Are you going to trust Nature or not?

About William O'Connor

William (Billy) T. O’Connor is Foundation Professor and Director of Teaching and Research in Physiology at the University of Limerick School of Medicine, Ireland. He also holds a position as Visiting Research Scholar at Flinders Medical School, Adelaide, South Australia.

Contacting William O'Connor

You can connect with William via LinkedIn or see his work on Inside the Brain.

By William O’Connor

The key to a happy life is the ability to transcend personal suffering, find a balance, and recognise that the world has problems. This requires purpose (mental effort) and those of us who strive to better understand ourselves in the world come out the other side as a new person, with some peace of mind and a purposeful way to live.

A limit to finding true purpose is the fact that we do not know that some of the things we perceive to be truly fundamental today may actually be just accidental. For instance, the brain uses systematic patterns of thought to produce philosophy including science, mathematics, literature, ideas and beliefs including a belief in a deity to guide us towards new insights. What we need to understand is that none of these may be fundamental in themselves. They are just tools that our ancestors used to probe the unknown and to see what is possible – knowing that what is common for us is just a tiny sliver of what actually exists.

In the West we have made the truth our highest value. This motivation while important is weak compared to the actual power of belief. We are born into a culture which often insists on a particular religious or ideological philosophy as fact and the only way to understand ourselves in the world, but adhering to this belief may cause personal suffering by impeding insights necessary to achieve your true purpose.

Especially nowadays, anxiety is often seen as something wrong and negative – a weakness or an illness. But anxiety is a fundamental ingredient of being alive. To feel and to think is to be anxious. How can you not be anxious when it is a natural response to a confusing and uncertain existence that you did not ask to be a part of? Yet, anxiety is the green light to seek true purpose. The trick is to try living with-and-through it as you move forward into the unknown, and as you take the leaps of faith into what you truly believe makes it all worth living and dying for.

The Chinese believe Nature to be purposeless. However, in the West when we say purposeless, it is a put down and there is no future in it. When the Chinese say Nature is purposeless they mean it as a compliment. It is like the waves washing against the shore going on and on forever with no meaning. Haven’t you ever gone on a walk with no particular purpose in mind? Well, it is at that moment that you are a perfectly rational human being because you have learned purposelessness. All music is purposeless. If the aim of music were to get to the final bar then the best musician would be the one who got there fastest. It’s the same with dancing. The aim of dancing is to dance and it’s exactly the same with your life.

The problem is that many of us believe that life has a purpose. Priests insist that we must each follow God’s purpose but when asked what that is they are silent. Here is the choice. Are you going to trust Nature or not? If you decide not to trust the purposelessness of Nature then you will need to fence yourself around with rules and regulations and laws and obligations. To really live you must have faith. You must trust yourself to the totally unknown, to a Nature which doesn’t have a boss because a boss is a system of mistrust. There is a wisdom in insecurity. A wisdom that is hard earned. Let this wisdom be your true purpose.

To what End? #5 #cong22


What is the essential nature of our being?  Our purpose is to investigate the answer to this question because it is the foundation from which our understanding of reality is truly known.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. What am I if I have no name, no history, no knowledge and no concept of the future? Our purpose is to investigate the answer to this question.
  2. Fear and desire are our two biggest barriers to freedom.
  3. Our entire reality is experienced through a series of thoughts, sensations, feelings and perceptions. Where we choose to direct out attention transforms our world.
  4. Happiness occurs only when we experience a deep and intimate connection with something greater that helps us to forget we exist.

About Zanya Dahl

I am a visual artist, working primarily in oils and specialising in figurative painting.
My focus is around the theme of connection – the absence and discovery of it. I am fascinated by how we connect within, with each other and with our environment.

When I’m not painting, I’m playing hockey, engaging in comedy improvisation, and mothering two little people. I rely on yoga and meditation to still my mind and loosen my limbs.

Contacting Zanya Dahl

You can connect with Zanya via emailInstagram and LinkedIn

By Zanya Dahl

What am I if I have no name, no history, no knowledge and no concept of the future?

When all of our thoughts, memories and personal attributes are stripped away, what is the essential nature of our being?

Let it be our purpose to find out.

There’s nothing more significant or fundamental than investigating the answer to this question because it is the foundation from which our understanding of reality is truly known.

To get to what we essentially are, we first need to free ourselves from the clutches of two specific states of mind that dominate the majority of our thoughts: fear & desire. They disrupt our acceptance of who we are or where we’re at in the current moment. They can often be two sides of the same coin:

1. fear of not getting what we desire (validation, popularity, success, wealth, security, power, knowledge, love, acceptance or belonging)

2. desire to avoid the things we fear (rejection, judgement, abandonment, loneliness, loss, pain, poverty or death)

We spend a lot of mental and emotional energy trying to anticipate and curate an invisible future that will never be known outside of the current moment. It’s futile.

The 18th century philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was woke enough to recognise how we have squandered our freedom, “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”

We often try to find purpose in the life we lead to bring us towards the end goal of happiness. Fundamentally, this is what we all desire. I remember Rupert Spira commenting in an interview that happiness occurs only when we experience a deep and intimate connection with something greater than our Self – when we forget that we exist, becoming “lost in the moment”. (i.e. ‘dissolving’ in a kiss; being ‘carried away’ by a piece of music; being ‘blown away’ by a scene of immense beauty; etc.). As soon as the moment passes however, we return to our separate Self, and the happiness subsides. So we chase the next thing that will restore that happy feeling we so covet.

I began to wonder what might happen if I stopped my lifelong habit of seeking, attaining and achieving and just allow myself to be guided by something greater, something internal, that is aligned with my own authentic expression. The idea of it felt wobbly and passive. But living with my mind in chains wasn’t working either.

Contrary to what I thought, choosing to place more trust in the invisible realm of “non thought” isn’t passive – it requires presence and attention, curiosity and openness.

I don’t have to chase happiness to attain it. It arises through me when I am fully present, available and engaged.

This has become my purpose – to live more and more in the essential nature of my own being. This requires me to loosen my attachment to who I think am I and how I think my life should be. I try to focus less on the future, less on expectations of myself and of the world around me and surrender more to the flow of life. I feel my way through decisions and follow my impulses, trusting that in each step I take, life will support me.

Any time I feel myself starting to fear or desire something I don’t currently have, I think of Mark Nepo’s quote, “The flower doesn’t dream of the bee. It simply blossoms and the bee comes.”

The more of this I do, the more attuned I become to my senses, the more I feel, the more I connect with myself and everything around me, the more content and accepting I become and the less resistance and stress I encounter.

It’s not easy. I frequently get captured by my mind. But it happens less because I’m more aware of its ability to create concepts. Every concept distracts me from the immediacy of experiencing what’s arising.

It’s kind of mind-bending to acknowledge that our entire reality is experienced through a series of thoughts, sensations, feelings and perceptions. Everything is in motion.

Therefore, our most precious and valuable superpower is our attention. Where we choose to place it transforms our world.

By consciously letting go little by little, I am curious and surprised by the things I notice, by the thoughts and ideas that occur to me, by the opportunities that appear before me and by the choices I make. Overall my life is changing because my understanding of reality has changed.

In this state, there are no fears to close me off or shut me down or limit me in any way. There are no desires to be more than what I am, or to have more than what I have. There is no sense of lack and no fear of loss.

Many people accidentally discover what we truly are after a near-death experience or a life-threatening diagnosis. It can happen in an instant. A carefully curated identity falls away along with all its emotional and psychological baggage. A new lightness of being is experienced and suddenly the wonder of the world and a capacity for love and joy is magnified.

Collectively we are edging towards death – facing the threat of extinction via nuclear warfare, climate change and/or a new pandemic. Maybe that will be the time when we finally face our worst fears and realise our whole life was lived in bondage to the chains of our mind. And then and only then will we let go and enjoy the magic of our own existence while we still live.

Or we can make it our purpose to let go sooner. The moment we do, we’ll realise that there is no need for purpose because it’s a construct too.

Happiness as a Function of Purpose #4 #cong22


Is happiness a function of purpose? If so, is it really possible to ‘make’ oneself happy through effort and self-direction?

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Key Takeaways:

  1. There are many different types of happiness.
  2. Some types of happiness are passivity-based, and some are effort-based.
  3. Passivity-based happiness results in higher peaks of joy, but is more fleeting.
  4. Effort-based happiness is driven through purpose, and is longer lasting.

About Craig Brown

Craig Brown works in the field of people and performance.

He obtained his undergraduate degree in literature from Acadia University in Canada, and his MBA from Kingston University in London.

Craig was honoured to be the first non-Irish person to receive a Galway People of the Year Award for his work with local charities.

Craig lives in south Galway with his wife and three children.

Contacting Craig Brown

You can connect with Craig on LinkedIn.

By Craig Brown

Why do we want to be happy?

Have you ever really thought about it? We all know we want to be happy, but do any of us really know why?

There is considerable evidence to suggest that being happy gave our forebearers an evolutionary advantage in surviving . Being happy… ‘made us fitter, more attuned to our environment, more social, more energetic—and because happy people were more apt to survive, they were more likely to pass on their happiness genes.’

In modern terms, it turns out that ‘people who are happy make more money, are more likely to get married, have stronger immune systems, and more friends.’ So, all in all, it seems like a good idea to try to be happy.

We place so much emphasis on happiness, that some countries have attempted to embed happiness into their national fabric. The Americans have enshrined the right to the pursuit of happiness in their Declaration of Independence. In Bhutan, they have gone so far as to create a Gross National Happiness index.

Here’s the thing though. What surprised me when doing my research is that there are in fact many different types of happiness , which broadly fall under two different categories.

Passivity-based happiness can include things like joy, excitement, pleasure, and glee. These tend to result from unexpected events, or events with little or no pre-planning – like running into an old friend walking down the street, going on a roller coaster, or finding a €20 note in an old coat. The sensation is fuelled by dopamine and only occurs in reaction to unexpected or semi-unexpected events. The feeling can be very strong but is often fleeting sometimes leaving a sense of emptiness afterward.

Effort-based happiness can include things like pride, optimism, and perhaps even love and contentment. While some of these forms of happiness can happen accidentally, they are, by and large, a function of effort applied to purpose.

For example, if I spend months building a house, in the end I can definitely feel a sense of pride, and probably also contentment and optimism for the future. Rather than having a large spike of dopamine associated with passivity-based happiness, effort-based happiness is longer-lasting. You can also live it over and over again as you remember the effort it took to build your house. The same sense of well-being can also be applied to how you feel after working hard on your job, your marriage, and raising your children.

And what is the fuel that drives effort-based happiness?


Purpose gives us the energy, stamina, and drive to complete those things that we deem worthwhile.

In summary, in order to find lasting happiness, first find purpose and then apply effort. The results will be long-lasting.

Unlock your purpose to achieve your goals! #3 #cong22


In today’s fast-moving world, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of everyday life and let your passions take a backseat. While it might be important to have a career you truly love and care about, it’s even more important to have a purpose. If you find that the things you do every day don’t necessarily align with who you are as a person and your passions, then it might be time to unlock your purpose and achieve your goals. To enjoy a fulfilled and happy life, I think everyone needs to understand our core values and beliefs about what is important in life. Unlocking your purpose is not just about finding out what makes you tick; it can also help you find fulfilment in the things that matter most to you. With some self-reflection, dedication, and practice, unlocking your purpose can be easier than ever before.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Start with Why
  2. Discover your values
  3. Look at your strength and skills
  4. Find out what you love to do most

About Stan McGowan

Branding and Digital Marketing expert who enjoys spending time with family & kids, doing music, photography, cooking, and swimming 😀

Contacting Stan McGowan

You can find out more about Stan on StanMcGowan

By Stan McGowan

In today’s fast-moving world, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of everyday life and let your passions take a backseat. While it might be important to have a career you truly love and care about, it’s even more important to have a purpose. If you find that the things you do every day don’t necessarily align with who you are as a person and your passions, then it might be time to unlock your purpose and achieve your goals. To enjoy a fulfilled and happy life, I think everyone needs to understand our core values and beliefs about what is important in life. Unlocking your purpose is not just about finding out what makes you tick; it can also help you find fulfilment in the things that matter most to you. With some self-reflection, dedication, and practice, unlocking your purpose can be easier than ever before.

What is Your Purpose?
Purpose is the reason why you exist. It is the reason why you get up in the morning and do what you do. It is the reason you exist. Finding your purpose is the holy grail of life; this is what psychologists, philosophers, and self-help gurus have talked about for decades. The more you learn to know about yourself, the easier and more fulfilling it will be for you to find your purpose.

Start with why.
Finding your reason for doing something can help you unlock your purpose. We naturally do what we enjoy and what we find meaningful, and when you understand why you are doing something particularly, you can put more energy and passion into it. This applies to any career or field of study. If you pursue a certain degree, you need to know why you are doing it. If you have a core desire and an overarching reason for making a particular career choice, it will help you focus on what is most important in your life. Doing what you love and what you are passionate about doesn’t just make you more productive, it also gives you a genuine sense of fulfilment. But don’t get caught up in pursuing the enjoyment of spending hours daily scrolling through social media timelines. Of course, if only it’s not what you do for a living as, for example, a social media marketer, which can also be considered as purpose, but those are rather rare occurrences.

Discover your values.
First, you need to discover your values, which are the guiding principles that you live by and are the things that are most important to you. They can be anything from having a fulfilling family life to making a difference in the world by engaging in community work or helping others. You might have certain beliefs about religion or social justice, and these can also be considered values. Understanding your core values can help you figure out what your purpose is, and having core values and a purpose in life can be an enormous source of motivation. When you know your values, making decisions that align with your personal beliefs will be easier. For example, if you know that having a healthy work-life balance is a core value, then accepting a promotion might be easier. If you have no clue what your values are, then you will have to spend time figuring them out. This could be a long and involved process, so make sure you are committed to the task. But the majority of people I know or spoke with agree that the Covid pandemic has made them rethink their values and what’s important in their lives today.

Look at your strengths and skills.
If you know your core values, you can start to look at your life and see what areas fit with these values. You can also try a strengths-based approach to help you identify your top strengths. For example, what are the things that make you feel most productive and engaged? Knowing your strengths and skills can also give you ideas about how to use them to pursue your purpose in life. For example, if you consider yourself a good public speaker, you might want to get involved in advocacy work. If you have a mathematical/analytical mindset, you might want to use those skills to pursue a career in data science.

Find out what you love to do.
This can be the same as finding out what you are good at. It can also be helpful to try different things and see what really excites you. Doing something you truly love and are passionate about can help unlock your purpose. This can also be related to your core values. For example, if you have a core value of helping others, then you can use that to narrow down what you love to do. You might love working with children or helping the elderly. You might love writing or programming. You might love playing music or singing. Use your values as a filter, and you will naturally be drawn to the things that you love to do.

Finally, finding your purpose isn’t an easy task. It may take a lot of self-reflection and soul-searching. It might even be a lifelong journey where you make new discoveries about yourself over time. However, it’s important to make unlocking your purpose a priority. It can help you have a more fulfilled and happy life. It can also help you achieve your goals and lead a more meaningful life. With some self-reflection, dedication, and practice, you can unlock your purpose and achieve your goals faster than ever before.

Why is Purpose so important to achieving a successful outcome? #2 #cong22


When we know our true purpose and what we are aiming for life gets easier.  It provides focus and clarity.  When working with others it is crucial that the team are clear on purpose. 

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Key Takeaways:

In order to seek clarity of purpose we need to explore:

  1. Why
  2. What
  3. How
  4. Review

About Carol Passemard

Founder of Breakthrough Retreat.

  • Helping others to discover their life purpose and who they really are
  • Encouraging them to follow their heart and make the most out of their lives
  • Supporting them through eradicating all the negative unconscious behaviours that have been holding them back for so long
  • Guiding them as they rebuild their lives with the knowledge they are at last living their true core values
  • Giving them permission to be happy

How did Carol gain the experience to be successful in this field?

  • Trained as a nurse over 50 years ago
  • Went through the university of life
  • Was a young mother
  • Worked in a variety of careers around her children’s lives when they were young
  • Over 25years as a Director in Quality Business Management Ltd until it’s closure in 2016 due to retirement
  • Coached Teamworking and Presentation Skills workshops for both public and private sector organisations
  • Trainer in Neuro Linguistic Programming, Timeline Therapy and Hypnosis
  • Fulfilled her life’s purpose by moving to Ireland and giving herself permission to be happy

Contacting Carol Passemard

You can connect with Carol on Facebook and LinkedIn or via email.

By Carol Passemard

Have you ever experienced children between the ages of 0-7 who constantly ask the question, Why?

  • Why do we have to go to bed?
  • Why do we have to go to school?
  • Why do we need to eat our dinner before we get our sweets?

And a myriad of other questions – Why?

We all lead busy lives and it is very easy to reply with:  “because I told you so….” But you have not satisfied their enquiring minds.  All they want to know is the purpose – what is expected of them.  What are the boundaries?

The word because provides them with history and that can often air on the side of negativity:

“Because you have been naughty today, because you had a late night last night”

“Because everyone has to go to school whether you like it or not! Because you have to learn your lessons.”

“Because you have not eaten anything all day.”

etc etc…

None of those responses are particularly attractive or motivating to a child.

Many of us in adult life are still behaving in this way!

In the early 1990s my late husband, Paul, was doing some consultancy work in the UK Treasury.  There he found himself in a meeting with Ian who he had not seen for 17 years.  In those days they had both been working for Esso and attended an intensive teamworking training course with a company called Coverdale.

During their meeting in the Treasury, Paul and Ian discovered they were both using the same techniques they had learned whilst working with Esso.  The techniques were all based around “Purpose” and were known to them as “A Methodical Approach to getting work done”.

Here are some interesting statistics:

When embarking on a project or task in business the way we think tends to fit into four distinct categories:

  1. Why?

Around 35% of a group will be asking the question ‘Why?”  These people are seeking meaning.  They need to be involved and motivated from the outset of an idea.  They learn by listening and sharing ideas with others.  These people are usually innovators and their questions need to be satisfied before they are bought into an idea/project/task.

  1. What?

What is this all about? Those who fit into this category are seeking information and 22% of a group will need more information before they are prepared to commit to anything new.  For these people it is important to change our language to gain their commitment.

For example:  In reference to the children’s questions notice what happens when we respond with “In order to…”

  • “In order to listen to the story we started last night we shall then find out what happens to the princess.”
  • “In order to discover what you are really brilliant at and find the best opportunities in life for you.So you can thrive and be happy
  • “In order to have fit healthy bodies and then you can enjoy have fun”

You may well have to drill down to some specifics in order to really motivate your children.

Notice that those three simple words “in order to” throw you out into the future and can make life so much more positive.

The same happens in business.  You will find greatly improved rapport from your team when they understand purposeand have information that backs up the purpose of an idea/project or task.

  1. How?

Have you noticed in your team that occasionally as soon as you suggest a new idea/project/task some of the team (around 18%) will immediately jump into action!  They want to know how things work.  These people learn by testing theories in ways that make sense to them.  These people are extremely useful in a team once you have established:

  • A clear purpose
  • Who your customer is
  • What you are wanting as an outcome
  • How long you have got to make it happen
  • What has to be done in order to achieve your outcome
  • You have a clear plan
  • And you are at a stage when you are ready to allocate tasks

Then you are ready to go into action.

BUT if you try to bring them on board at the concept of an idea they can cost you time and money by derailing and confusing that simple question – Why are we doing this project?  They are not really interested in purpose.  They just want to get on with the job.

  1. Self Discovery

Finally there are some team members (around 25%) who are on the path of self-discovery.   They seek hidden possibilities.  They need to know what can be done with things.  They learn by trial and error.  They have a tendency to procrastinate and keep asking questions before taking action.  The best way to satisfy their needs is to be very clear on purpose before involving them and then you can give them a clear idea on what you are aiming for – your intended outcome. Prefix your answers with:  “Just suppose we get this task completed by (time and date) imagine how we shall be seen as a successful team who is prepared to work together in order to achieve our intended outcome.

Over 20 years ago Paul and I designed and set up our own teamworking workshops and spent a lot of time working with both public and private organisation assisting them in learning life changing skills all around Purpose.  We ran a 4-day workshop that included both indoor and outdoor activities that helped our clients recognise the importance of having a Methodical Approach to Getting Work Done.  Not only did this include being very clear on purpose, they also learned many other life changing skills around:

  • Observation
  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • Starting a project and handing it on to a new group part way through
  • Taking on a project that had been started by someone else and seeing it through to a successful conclusion
  • Listening
  • Effective communication
  • The importance of constant review
    • what went well and why
    • what was not so successful
    • how can we plan to improve for next time
  • Skills that were needed to be part of a team
  • Skill to lead a team

We had a lot of fun conducting these workshops and in 2000, as our millennium project, we took our workshop to St Vincent in the Caribbean to work with the Bishop of the Windward Islands, his clergy, youth group leaders and other members of staff.  It was a memorable and wonderful experience.

Last year a UK government department, who had heard about our workshops, contacted me and asked me to run a teamworking workshop for 22 of their staff.  However due to their time constraints and COVID; the rules and the workshop had to change.  My client only had time to have 5 half-day sessions and they had to be conducted online.

Not to be outdone by this Paul and I designed a very successful workshop that meant we divided them into 3 groups.  I ran the sessions over about 5 weeks.  At the outset the group were very negative and grumpy about having to give up precious time. By the final session they were motivated and recognised the usefulness of the skills they had learned and could be used in any team situation in the future.  Wherever they may be working.  The feedback was very positive.

It was a tremendous tribute to Paul who had taught me all the skills included in the course.  He passed away soon after it had ended.  His purpose in this life was done.  With a smile on his face, his final words to me were “On to my next career!”  I have no doubt somewhere he is sharing his amazing talents with other beings.  RIP Paul.