Purpose – the hardest topic? #57 #cong22


A look at purpose from the mundane, to the important to the profound.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Understanding purpose can be hard work, but we should never shy away from or ignore seeking understanding.

About Joe Kearns:

Now in life’s “third phase” where working for money is no longer central to existence, Joe has spent much of his paid career in US and other multinational companies managing various IT teams from local to corporate levels. He also had an earlier life as a volunteer engineer in Ethiopia in the mid-80s. Today life centres around many unpaid activities particularly in the field of Intercultural communication specifically focussed on Africa.

Contacting Joe Kearns:

You can contact Joe by email.


By Joe Kearns 

It is rare that I struggle to write or talk about any topic, but this has really left me struggling to know where to start – or end.

One can go all the way from looking at the purpose of day-to-day items, the purpose of human organisations to the purpose of human existence itself.

How many of us actually do think about purpose? It was a big part of my life in management. With every team I led throughout my career we spent time defining our purpose. No team of any size can be successful without have a clear understanding of its purpose.

My own understanding of what purpose is is “that which would or could not happen if the item or group did not exist”. So, the purpose of wheels on a car is to enable to allow the car to move easily over the ground – without wheels we’d be left with a lot of dragging and friction.

I led various IT teams at all levels and time spent understanding purpose was vital. Not only did it allow us to be focussed on achievement and to set goals, it also forced us to engage with management and stakeholders and understand their needs.

But it is not always easy to define purpose. I led several Enterprise Architecture teams in a large multi-national company from business unit level up to corporate. Because not everyone, including senior management, fully understood what we could do for the business, defining a purpose that everyone “got” was a challenge.

But what about much bigger questions like the purpose of existence?

I have spent some time looking at philosophical and religious writings on Purpose. While, I can’t claim to have understood everything, they all led me to a place of deep thought and questioning.

Some of my own thinking on purpose leads me to believe we often end up in “circular” logic. For example, if a parent says that their purpose is to care for their children until they can look after themselves, this can lead down an infinite path. While caring for one’s children is a laudable task it cannot be the purpose of existence

Maybe a bigger purpose is to “make life better for everyone”. Akin to teams in business defining their purpose as “to make the company better”, or some such, these kind of “purpose” statements lead inevitably to questions about what specifically should be made better or what is “better”.

All this eventually leads to questions about God or a greater existence outside of this life. In my mind, and I don’t claim to be right on this, it seems that if one doesn’t believe there is a God or an existence after this one, one must struggle to define purpose other than in short term, self-indulgent ways.

If one believes in God and life after death, purpose can be defined in relation to our seeking of God.

St Ignatius Loyola said: “The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit.”

While I relate strongly to this definition, given my own beliefs, I know too that for those who don’t hold these beliefs the above is meaningless babble. In the end your understanding of life’s purpose will depend on what you believe or don’t believe. But we must all, within the confines of our beliefs, spend time thinking about purpose, not to do so is to drift aimlessly.

Become Your Purpose #56 #cong22


Its BE HAVE DO, not DO HAVE BE. If you want something, pretend (with every fiber of your being) that you have it already. Studying this stuff doesn’t get you anywhere, you have to BE the change.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. True human expression, the purest kind, is one of contribution and love.
  2. We must take time to understand our true purpose and two, we must recognize the barriers to access it.
  3. Our stories are just noise that fill the space where possibility shows up.
  4. Build the muscle of self-love; fake it till you make it.

About Laura Kennedy:

Brand strategist; ex-horse rider; fitness enthusiast; intentional thinker; non-intentional creative; mortgage free; house free; mother of two; beach walker; rock climber.

Contacting Laura Kennedy:

You can connect with Laura on LinkedIn


By Laura Kennedy

A few years ago, I had an ‘Ah-ha’ moment, when I saw a clip of a young composer play his cello to a room of people. The moderator, a well-known & respected teacher-conductor congratulated him on the technical accuracy & musicality of his playing. He then asked if he could make one slight adjustment. With the musician’s permission he asked a lady from the audience to come forward & sit in a chair, in front of him. ‘This time’ he said, ‘I want you to look at her & play for her’. The musician looked shyly at the woman and raised the bow to his instrument. As the music began to vibrate off the strings, the sound of Bach, Cello Suite no. 3 filled the room and all the time, he looked directly at her. And then, something began to happen. She began to smile, and he began to smile, and her eyes filled with tears. The human connection between them was palpable. As if carried on the music itself, the intention of his playing had transformed from one of ‘I must play this correctly’ to one of ‘this beautiful music is for you, all for you’.

It was in this moment that something shifted within me, the realization that true human expression, the purest kind, is one of contribution and love. Not romantic love, but love for our fellow human beings, creatures & indeed, the planet or anything else that really matters. And why is this important? Well, the thinking goes, if we want to wake up every morning and really love what we do, we must do something that is linked to our purpose. So, what is our purpose? Well in my view, It’s just that; a statement or belief that links what we do (or don’t do) to our true selves. Not that I could have articulated all of this in that moment, it took some years of self-exploration (& coaching) to understand all of this.

So, what have I learned about purpose since then? Two things; One, we must take time to understand our true purpose and two, we must recognize the barriers to access it. What do I mean by barriers? Well, the first step, I found, was to take on the belief that I deserve a life of purpose and to do that, I needed to abandon the belief that I didn’t! That may sound weird, but back then I didn’t hold myself in high enough regard to sustain that belief. And so, I had to ‘do the work’, develop the muscle of self-love; ‘fake it till I make it’. It was hard. I had to drop a lot of ‘stories’ I had about myself and the world. Be conscious of the language I used. Get real about the fact that life is empty and meaningless and its up to me to fill it with all the things I value & want around me; love, empathy, kindness, inspiration, hope.

That, I realised, was my responsibility, the responsibility of a privileged individual, who have the time, money, education & freedom to ponder these things. That was my purpose, manifested in one way or another. From this place a green shoot started to appear, the belief that I was good and honest and deserving. Concurrently, things that had never shifted before, in my life, started shifting (I met my fiancé & had two beautiful children, having always been single).

Its BE HAVE DO, not DO HAVE BE. If you want something, pretend (with every fiber of your being) that you have it already. Studying this stuff doesn’t get you anywhere, you have to BE the change.

Our Autonomy is our Purpose. #55 #cong22


Purpose is doing.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Purpose is what you do.
  2. Autonomy, identity, and values operate within a context to produce a purpose,
  3. Environmental degradation is the elephant.
  4. My change in purpose

About Conor O'Brien:

I am a retired dairy farmer from a tradition of cooperative and local involvement. I am a member of the Board oversight on Mitchelstown Credit Union. Chairperson of Knockmealdown Active that develops outdoor activities there. Also involved with a local group using walks on the Knockmealdowns and the Galtees to build the community. I help to organise an October storytelling workshop on Cape Clear island, although this year was on Whiddy Island. Learning more about the soil every day. Reading. Local and general economic history.

Contacting Conor O'Brien:

You can reach Conor by email or connect with him on Twitter.


By Conor O’Brien

A purpose is the proposed solution to a human problem. It is only possible if we have autonomy to act as we decide. We are social animals; all our actions and purposes are defined in relation to others.

Our actions describe what our purpose is. As Donella Meadowes said: “The best way to deduce the system’s purpose is to watch for a while to see how the system behaves.”; and: “The least obvious part of the system, its function or purpose, is often the most crucial determinant of the system’s behavior.”

Our purpose is affected by our identity, our values, and our context. Identity is affected by three main areas of our lives: family, place, and profession. Being able to act purposefully in anyone of those areas strengthens one’s personal autonomy and identity. For one person it may be their profession that defines them; for another, especially in Ireland, place is often a very strong part of identity. Gender influences how it is both perceived and expressed, particularly so for women in relation to family and to a decreasing extent in professions.

Values are the gut-feelings that determine how we relate to others. We tend to be strongly reciprocal, often to the point of altruism. But this strong reciprocal tendency makes us hypersensitive to unfairness, often to the point of jealousy and revenge. A common purpose is one of the mechanisms by which we overcome this potential whiplash between love and hate. If a couple have a common purpose in raising their family it provides a balance to the relationships.

There is an analogy in biology where some microbes can move the Ph of their environment above or below 6.5Ph which is the sweet spot for most plants. A common purpose can act on a relationship in a similar way.

A purpose without a feedback mechanism will not be achievable. Within a family feedback relating to core values occurs through their normal communication. Organisations are just as dependent on feedback of values and will also be affected by strong reciprocity. In their simplest form they can be defined as mutual fairness, autonomy, and development.

Values are not as easily measurable as material factors, but again a Donella Meadows quote: “Pay Attention to What Is Important, Not Just What Is Quantifiable.”. One might find that an organisations purpose is unachievable, but if the organisation maintains its values while it adapts it may survive. It will almost certainly fail if it forgets it’s values.

Having a purpose implies changing the present context and reorganising how social relations and resources are configured. Purpose without action is just a dream. Action will cause uncertainty, fear of the unknown, and concern whether the risk is worth the reward.

Climate change, environmental degradation, and fossil fuel reduction have produced an extremely uncertain context for satisfying our core needs of food, water, shelter, and sociableness. This has been caused by the way in which the public values of our society have prioritised capital and power over community and the environment. An immediate result is that there is a genuine possibility that food security might be an issue for our grand-children, and possibly even our children because the biology of the soil has significantly degenerated.

There is a classic photograph from the 1920s in the American Mid-west of a country road heading into a huge black cloud of dust. This was replicated last year during another dust-storm; only this time the cloud was white. There was no more black earth left to blow.

Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results. The operating principle of our economic system is that individuals will preferentially satisfy their own needs. This is not valid, but it has enabled a subset of humanity to do so at the expense of all others.

Plans to achieve one’s purpose cannot be based on the principles that have led to the present environmental crisis. This will require local and community based approaches rather than a government led top-down ones. Whether our present centralised governance structure will support this may be crucial to our social and environmental regeneration. One will have to consider several routes, husband resources carefully, and be prepared to adapt them.

For me that leads to two purposes. I have experience of organising storytelling workshops. I want to run one next year that helps environmental workers to find stories that speak of changing values so that our grandchildren will not be at risk of food insecurity. This is tentatively set for St Brigid’s weekend 2023.

Contact me if you know of a storytelling facilitator who might be suitable.

The other is a recognition that good food leads to good health and that future generations of children need security of nutritious food. Regenerative horticulture that provides this is a skilled profession that can only be learned by doing. I intend to support the establishment on my farm of a two to three acre smallholding which would have sufficient income both to make a profit for the operator and enable her to train another person, who could then start up on their own. It may grow into a larger cooperatively organised operation, or not. Try it and see.

If you know someone who is interested in this tell them to contact me.

An Ordinary Life #54 #cong22


Somehow Purpose has been hijacked by ‘Higher’ but what about living a flaneuring life in search of nothing more but beauty and love. Is having a ‘higher’ Purpose essentially ego-driven and what of the noble dignity of stewardship and love?

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Key Takeaways:

  1. You don’t need a burning bush
  2. What about the flaneur/flaneuse? Is anything really without purpose? Who decides what’s ‘worthy’?
  3. There’s greatness in the ordinary life of love and stewardship
  4. Our quest for ‘more’ for ‘greatness’ may well have caused the imbalance in the world… Maybe if we’d stuck to the ordinary lives lived helping and healing what is within in the concentric circles of where we are…

About Joan Mulvihill:

Flaneuse, Artist, Non-Techie Techie, Happy Imposter
10th year of Cong and next year will be my 50th of life. Cong is my Christmas gift to myself every year.

Contacting Joan Mulvihill:

You can reach Joan by email or see her work on Instagram or her website


By Joan Mulvihill

Mark Twain – The two most important days of our lives are the day we are born and the day we find out why – Why am I here? What is my purpose?

The idea an epiphanic day, a burning bush, getting the call, some out of body experience when I realise that my life is to serve some greater purpose than my own self-indulgence… What if I never have such a moment? What if I never find my purpose?

What if I just flaneur my way through life – that casual way of wandering without any apparent sense of direction or purpose while being secretly attuned to it all in subconscious searching for nothing more than beauty, adventure, love? Could that be enough? Is just being alive to the beauty of it all enough?

What is the purpose of such an ordinary life – one with no greater purpose than to live, be, do our best to love within the tight concentric circles that ripple out from where we are.

I know such a man – he lived an ordinary life of love in the stewardship of his square miles. Is there a greater nobility and dignity than the necessary setting aside of all ego for the purpose of stewardship? You see stewardship to me is an acknowledgement that we don’t really ‘own’ anything, we are just part of the grand continuum. I think it requires an acceptance of our smallness on the earth in the context of all the universe and the brevity of our time on the earth in the context of the infinity of it at all.

Is there a higher purpose, a greater noble cause than to find love, appreciate its simple but rich value and to protect it in that place where we are?

Entrepreneurial Purpose #53 #cong22


I’ve had the privilege of working with many entrepreneurs. Here’s what I have found is the purpose that drives them to achieve.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Entrepreneurs demonstrate an incredibly strong sense of purpose.
  2. There is some commonality to where they find their purpose.

About Martin Murray:

I am a Business Consultant working with startup enterprises, helping them to accelerate the commercialisation of their business ideas. I’m also an engineer, mathematician, sea-swimmer, bread baker and dog walker.

Contacting Martin Murray:

You can reach Martin by email


By Martin Murray

For the last 6 years I have had the privilege of working with a couple of hundred startup enterprises and Founders as mentor, advisor and pathfinder. The innovators with whom I have worked have created new products and services, acquired investment, created employment, generated wealth and, in some cases, made the world a better, more friendly, more user-friendly, safer and more fun place to be.

Phenomenally wealthy and (financially) successful people are often heard to say that “money was never the motivator”. I don’t know too many of this cohort of people, but I can say that the innovators with whom I have worked are driven by a very different purpose. For the Founder setting out on the entrepreneurial journey, the pathway ahead is usually unclear, unmapped, foggy and strewn with obstacles. So much so, that the possibility of substantial personal wealth creation is far too distant a prospect to provide the turbo-charged motivation required every day to take a business from concept to commercialisation.

Instead, the entrepreneurial purpose that I observe most frequently is the desire to fix something that is broken – the unmet human need, the product or service that is clearly sub-optimal, the frustrating bureaucracy for which there is a clear, but as yet unimplemented, technological fix, the critical pain point that can be resolved. These are the motivators that deliver purpose for many of the Founders with whom I have worked. In practice this translates into saving the planet using vertical farming, delivering confidence to post-partum women via better designed athleisure wear, soothing infants’ sore throats with a lollipop that will never cause choking, creating great learning experiences through the combination of original pedagogical research and killer UX design, reinventing how you learn to drive for the tik-tok generation, replacing paper receipts with an electronic receipt that can deliver discounts for the consumer, assessing the health of a horse or other animal using microchip and artificial intelligence technology (as opposed to inserting instruments into the animal’s anus), placing the dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot within the reach of many more people, using an app to skip the queue to purchase beer at a music festival, using another app to support alcohol consumption reduction for those with addiction issues, supporting the elderly and infirm to live independently in the home, facilitating twenty-something year olds to start a pension, getting the best deal on my coffee purchases, reducing food waste in hotel kitchens, the list goes on…

What each of these innovations have in common is that, in the beginning, it is never clear that it can be successfully commercialised. What is clear, and something I have the joy of observing every day, is a Founder with a sense of purpose that drives them forward to bring the innovation from concept to prototype to Minimum Viable Product, to launch and first paying customer and, with some luck, to commercial rollout.

There are other very human motivations that deliver purpose for entrepreneurs. These include the desire to show the world the unique intelligence, skillset and experience that only this Founder can be bring to bear on a project, the increasing need to break free from the straitjacket of corporate uniformity and the hope to be able to leave a positive mark on the world.

Purpose #52 #cong22


Realising purpose, do I have a purpose ? has to be the one of the most commonly asked question . I talk about me and how I discovered my purpose. I’ve attempted to get as many cliches into one piece as I could .

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Purpose
  2. Look inward
  3. Realisation
  4. Just be

About Hassan Dabbagh

I am an Educational Technologist who has extensive experience working with teachers on an individual and whole school basis. I enable teachers to get the best from the technology they have available to them which allows them to enhance their teaching in new and inventive ways.

I am a keen interest in using technology in conjunction with his Maker skills to create projects utilising electronics, computers and PCBs to build activities for all ages.

Dad of two and living life and loving and loving the music

Contacting Hassan Dabbagh:

You can reach Hassan by email or search for him in the internet ….. he is the other one


By Hassan Dabbagh

What I do? What’s my purpose ? What is purpose ? Why does this one word send me into a spin? Do I have a purpose ? It’s this last question that keeps me awake at night.

In order to answer all these questions I can only look inward, you can’t change the world looking outward change comes from within. JESUS… three lines in and I’m talking about changing the world….. such notions .

I’m an educational technologist, I want to reinvent the classroom as a learning space, That’s my purpose , I also love being an I.T. Trainer because it gives me such joy showing someone how to do something, better again, when I see them trying out the new skill that they’ve learned and succeeding it gives my brain that endorphin hit that it craves so much… but only enough to say….. “do it again and I’ll give you more”

It wasn’t always like this, for a long time I had no sense of purpose no sense of being, what am I here to do and thats because purpose doesn’t just drop like a Netflix series, it doesn’t just land in your inbox purpose is realised over time and is the combination of all of your life experiences, it’s about all the decisions you’ve made to get to this point.

Purpose is realised without realising it, it’s something that happens over time and one morning you wake up happy that you’re doing something you love doing, you then ask yourself “when did this happen?” And by the way ……. EVERYBODY wakes up tired/ sleepy OR grumpy . ( just sayin’!) The issue is If you find your alarm clock going off in the morning makes you deeply unhappy OR going to work is making you sick then you will never find your purpose *, how can you if your unhappy, you’ll only realise your purpose if you’re doing something you love. What do you love doing? What is the only thing you would love to do FOREVER then go off and learn how to be the best at it, it won’t give you purpose but it will point in the right direction.

Now that you have purpose, what’s next? World domination ? Turn that startup into a “Stripe” Or “PayPal” the answer isn’t that straight forward, having purpose doesn’t mean you have all the answers it just means your ship is pointing in the right direction, having a clear purpose and clear goals and dreams will help your drive, people with drive and no purpose find themselves often going around in circles asking “how did I end up succeeding in another job that I hate?”
Some over achievers tend to find themselves in jobs that we are good at but we hate! Never let your job try and outline your purpose for you.

Lets see if I can finish off this with as many cliches as possible, having a purpose is finding your gift, that one thing your amazing at and sharing it with the world, maybe even turning it into a job, if you’re waking up every morning and you love what you do then I think you’re on the right track and if you’re reading this and still don’t know what your purpose is then not to worry, it will come, find things you love doing, find time for you! Be happy just the way you are, do things because they’re right not because others say so . Just Be!

Purpose, a carrot or a stick!? #51 #cong22


Coming soon

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Key Takeaways:

Coming soon


About Paddy Delaney:

I am a reformed Financial Advisor! Now spend my time trying to make a difference to both the Financial Services industry and also to individuals’ financial wellbeing. Do this through coaching, training and the (award winning!) Informed Decisions Blog & Podcast.

Contacting Paddy Delaney:

You can follow Paddy on Twitter or sign up for his blog/podcast.


By Paddy Delaney

Through my work, I get to know some professionally successful individuals. Many of them will admit that their sense of purpose is firmly aligned to their professional accomplishments. They get respect and social status from their profession.

When they are asked ‘What do you do?’, they might proudly state that they are a pharmacist, engineer, executive manager, or ‘business owner’. Their role and successes from it quite often gives them purpose, and understandably so.

However, when they retire, they leave those roles. When they are now asked ‘What do you do?’, for some of them, it is a big adjustment and admission to reply that they are ‘retired’. They admit to feeling their sense of self has evaporated somewhat.

For many humans, our sense of purpose is closely linked to our chosen profession. I am no different. If I retired today, I’m not sure I’d be delighted to confess that I ‘used to run a business helping people to make better financial decisions, but now I look after the kids!’. It’s a painful admission, but it’s the truth for me right now.

In the 190,000 years that us humans have graced this fine planet, it is said that approximately 110 billion people have lived and died. Did every single one of those individuals live a life of purpose and meaning?

Perhaps they did! But I guess, it depends on what you mean by purpose! Does purpose mean that we live, survive, perhaps have some relationships, and then died? Is that a life lived with purpose?

Or does purpose mean that throughout our lives, we not only survived, but we thrived, and bettered the lives of others and the planet we live on?

I guess, that is the thing about ‘purpose’ – many of us (including yours truly) have been conditioned about what living a life of purpose should mean. It seems that it is no longer OK to just ‘be’. It has become the expectation to strive for a greater purpose.

When we are on our death-bed, will have deep regret if we can’t say that our lives were purposeful, and that we had a meaningful and positive impact on the world?! That is a high standard to meet, if so!

But perhaps having such a high bar is beneficial to us as individuals, our communities and society in general. If we have a defined and clear purpose of improving something within our control, surely that will be helpful?

Personally speaking, I tap-into purpose when I want to make a change or take on a large project. Striving to achieve that purpose is a fantastic carrot to pursue. Focusing on our purpose or our ‘why’, as Simon Sinek has made famous in the past decade, can be a great motivator.

My only reservation is that we don’t get so wrapped-up in that purpose that it creates a stick for our own backs! Life would be pretty tiring if we had to be purposeful in everything that we do, and always thinking about whether we are striving for ‘better’ all of the time.

Some of the greatest characters we meet in life are those that seem not too distracted by purpose or living a life of challenge and achievement. They seem content in simply ‘being’. Are they ‘free’ of purpose. Or perhaps their dedicated purpose is to live a life of fun, and put a smile on the faces of others! That too can be a tough act to maintain. Ultimately, like all things in life, purpose can be great, but lets do so in moderation!

Purpose Pitfalls #50 #cong22


Some things I try to keep in mind while working with a purpose.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Don’t get obsessed, keep space for other things in life
  2. Thing about the complex contexts we all operate in
  3. Try to find a group that shares your purpose
  4. It won’t be smooth sailing.

About Clare Dillon:

Clare Dillon has spent over 20 years working with developers and developer communities. Clare has been involved with InnerSource Commons since early 2019, and became Executive Director last year. InnerSource Commons focuses on creating a sharing resources to help developers do open collaboration inside their companies. Clare also works with OSPO++ to support the establishment of University and Government Open Source Program Offices and OSPOs++ globally, that can collaborate to implement public policy and trustworthy public services. Last year she co-founded Open Ireland Network to bring together people interested in advancing open source in Ireland.

Contacting Clare Dillon:

You can connect with Clare in LinkedIn.


By Clare Dillon

So this year’s theme is about purpose. And yes, I absolutely agree that having a purpose is vital to happiness, health and vitality in life.

Since I started working with many volunteer communities in the open source ecosystem, I have had the pleasure of working with more purpose-ful people than ever before. Indeed, I have also had the pleasure of meeting so many people over the years at Congregation who inspire me with the purpose and meaning they have found in life. So, when I sat down to write this, I didn’t know what more I could add to why finding your purpose is worthwhile and valuable.

Instead, I started thinking about a few of the things I have tried to keep in my own mind as I found myself working with a purpose…

The Dangers of a Sole Purpose

We all know people whose sole purpose in life is to [insert meaningful purpose here]. Their efforts are worthy and worthwhile, and the world is hopefully a better place for their effort and focus. But sometimes, having a sole purpose can distract you from the other pleasures in life. And there are so many. Little bursts of joy and surprise that you can only find in aimless wanderings and exploring. I often find myself overwhelmed by how much there is to do, so it takes extra effort to keep space for the unexpected and unintentional.

Complex Contexts

Pure passion about a topic can sometimes be like a shining spotlight, putting things in high relief, making things seem black and white. But we’re usually all actually muddling around in the grey, without seeing many of the forces at play in any given situation. I’ve learned that no matter how clear your purpose burns within you – it is always worthwhile assuming things are not black and white and closely examining the context you and others are operating in. Listen to people who may seem set against your purpose, who may give different perspective. Understanding more and assuming less always helps.

Shared Purposes Are the Best

Nothing better than working in a team with a shared purpose! I don’t know how folks do it on their own. Collaboration helps gets things done – and it helps to have a shoulder to cry on when things don’t go well.

Speaking of which…

Lose the Battle, Win the War

It can be devasting to “lose” when you are purpose-led. The feelings of disappointment and failure when something goes wrong can be more devastating than when it’s just “the day job”. And not all battles can be won. So the final thought is – it’s ok to lose the battle, but we must all keep the hope alive that we will win the war.

Prosperity in The Metaverse #51 #cong22


How does prosperity look in The Metaverse

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Key Takeaways:

  1. The Metaverse is already a huge economic force.
  2. Prosperity means different things in different cultures.
  3. The Metaverse is a sandbox to observe new behaviours.
  4. How will the new behaviours effect the real word?

About Eoghan Kidney:

I’m a creative director with a strong vertical in The Metaverse

Contacting Eoghan Kidney:

You can connect with Eoghan on Twitter


By Eoghan Kidney

People ask me what VR is useful for apart from games and training. My usual answer would have been that there’s very few aspects of society that it won’t influence. This thought seems to have migrated to the current outlook associated with the metaverse – a term coined by Neal Stephenson in his influential novel Snowcrash and recently popularised by Mark Zuckerberg during his Meta rebranding efforts. Beyond the criticism of the latter’s recent pivot, the metaverse is a very real and powerful thing, existing not just inside the Meta Quest VR headset, but as a series of interconnected 3D virtual worlds built on gaming engines experienced concurrently by millions of users every day.
Fortnight, Roblox, Minecraft – these games are inhabited by what are now emerging as metaverse natives – Mark Zuckerberg knows this, and an increasingly aware list of corporations know this too – and they are busy positioning themselves to align with the potential profits that will emerge, readying their corporate purpose of economic prosperity to the metaverse.
However, the purpose of prosperity can be interpreted differently from culture to culture. In Buddhism, prosperity is viewed with an emphasis on collectivism and spirituality. This perspective can be at odds with capitalistic notions of prosperity, due to the latter’s association with greed. In Islam, prosperity is often tied to notions of piety and is therefore largely individualistic. Judaism has a long tradition of viewing prosperity as a communal responsibility. Christianity has a complex relationship to prosperity, with a long tradition of viewing it as a sign of God’s favour and a blessing to be shared with others. The metaverse is a powerful tool for religious groups to use in order to express their beliefs about prosperity.
Through their avatars and in the virtual spaces they create in the metaverse, religious groups can offer resources and advice to other avatars in order to help them achieve this prosperity. In Second Life, the Prosperity Project is a group of avatars who offer free resources and advice to other avatars in the game. The project is inspired by Buddhist beliefs about the importance of sharing resources and helping others to achieve prosperity. In World of Warcraft, there is a quest called “The Blessing of Wealth” which requires players to collect a number of items and then offer them up to a deity in exchange for prosperity. This quest is inspired by similar quests found in many real-world religions, such as the Jewish tradition of tzedakah (charity). In Eve Online, there is a virtual item called “The Prosperity Token” which can be traded between players. This item is inspired by the Islamic tradition of giving charity (zakat).
As we see more economic ecosystems emerge in the metaverse, it will be interesting to see how different groups attempt to engage with and influence these systems. The purpose of an organisation inside the metaverse might be a little different than outside.

Purpose – with a lower-case p. #49 #cong22


It’s ok to be useful instead of grandiose. Your purpose doesn’t have to be big or fancy, it can be the small everyday things that make someone’s life a little bit better. Don’t get paralysed by the need to be perfect, strive for excellence instead. If you’re not sure what your purpose is, ask someone who knows you well. They might have some insight that you don’t.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Your purpose doesn’t have to be big or grandiose, it can be the small everyday things that make someone’s life a little bit better.
  2. Don’t get paralysed by the need to be perfect, strive for excellence instead.
  3. It’s ok to be usefully ornamental!
  4. If you’re not sure what your purpose is, ask someone who knows you well. They might have some insight that you don’t.

About Aileen Howell:

Aileen describes herself as a mum of 4, a dedicated Geek girl, a Breastfeeding Advocate, an Aspie & ADHD mum, and a Maker of Things.

Aileen was the founder and managing director of bumpbasics.com, Ireland’s first exclusively online maternity wear start-up. Before her start-up days, she was a software engineer working in the finance sector. These days she is a director with a uniform (school & industry) supplier and a full time La Leche League Leader – a voluntary position in the area of mother-to-mother breastfeeding support.

Contacting Aileen Howell:

You can contact Aileen by email


By Aileen Howell

One of my late grandmother’s favourite putdowns was “You’re neither use nor ornament” – this usually said in exasperation as we dodged about underfoot hoping that a freshly baked bun or slice of apple tart might happen our way. The inference being, of course, that if you weren’t decorative or helpful then you had no business being there. So, I perhaps I have internalised that belief and, as someone who’s not inclined towards being ornamental, over the years it has been my preference to be useful. It has become the running joke amongst my siblings that if there are a couple of us in the room with our mother, she will ask me to change lightbulbs, put on a wash, fix the TV remote or put out the bird food. In my extended family and friends circle I would be seen as the one to go to for help, the babysitter, the picker-upper, the errand runner. These things all bring me a sense of satisfaction, fulfil a need in me to indeed be useful.

I sometimes wonder, especially as I get older, if this serves as my purpose or if it’s a way of avoiding looking for and finding my “real” purpose. When I was younger, I never felt the need to search for a purpose. I didn’t need to climb mountains, swim oceans, run marathons or seek fame. I never “set off with a sense of purpose” to conquer the future.

The Berkeley Greater Good Science Magazine described purpose as: an abiding intention to achieve a long-term goal that is both personally meaningful and makes a positive mark on the world. Somehow this feels like it should be something bigger any more important than giving someone’s dog a lift to the vet or doing a relative’s shopping. That when people talk about purpose they really mean “Purpose” with a capital P – but what if that’s not for everyone. What if, for many of us, our purpose is to support those whose purpose does have a capital P.

A few years ago, I read Brene Brown’s book “The Gifts of Imperfection” and in it she talks about the difference between perfectionism and striving for excellence. For me, this was a light bulb moment. I realised that for years I had been paralysing myself with the need to be perfect and that, in fact, what I really needed to do was to strive for excellence instead. I didn’t need to be perfect to be useful.

So, if you’re like me and searching for your purpose, don’t forget to look for the small things, the everyday things that you can do to make someone’s life a little bit better. It might not be what you had in mind but trust me, it’s enough.