Finding Your Purpose

inner purpose

What is Your Greater Purpose?

As most of you know, Learning Rebels hosts a reading group called #RebelliousReaders. Right now, we are winding down from reading “Work Out Loud” by John Stepper. In my last email to the group, I specifically recall chapter 17, “Your Greater Purpose”.

Abraham Lincoln Rocks the Quote

The opening quote is perfect. “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” ~ Good old Abe Lincoln. As John says, this is the shortest chapter in the book and for me it is a critical chapter. For many people the concept of “working out loud”, is great in theory, but how do I start? Procrastination is the stuff of evil (as discussed here). I love that in this chapter he is giving us a chance to step back and think about the “Why”.

In this case, I’m taking my own medicine and posting my “Greater Purpose Letter” here. Yep, for the world to see. I mean we can’t just talk the talk, right? So, I’m asking all to you work on your journey with me.

A Letter to Yourself

In case you haven’t read the book, here are the general instructions: Choose a date and time from the future. Could be months, could be years. Up to you. Image what is happening during this time in your life if things had gone well, how do you feel? What have you accomplished? Are you fulfilled? As John says, there is no “right” way to write such a letter. There is no perfect structure, no perfect set amount of words or needed length. Just write from the heart. “For it to be real, for it to be useful, you need to engage your emotions”.

In this chapter, John shares his own letter. I particularly like how he has his broken down. I’ve used the same format below. So take 30 minutes tonight.  Just 30 minutes, maybe it’s before you leave the office, or before you go to bed, after you’ve watched Big Bang Theory and the dogs and kids are down for the count.

Start a Fire! 

Your job if you wish to accept it: Share your work – Yes, share – it is working out loud. We all can benefit. Besides, I figure if John Stepper can do it, so can we.

  1. Share your own letter the comment section of this blog post. It would be wonderful to see the fire spread, letting us all discover our greater purpose together. Each letter feeding into another and perhaps providing needed support.
  2. Other– Want to share your work but not with your name attached? Simply email me,, in the subject line write “Finding My Great Purpose” and attach your letter. I’ll copy and paste it into the blog comments without your name.
  3. Revised Added other (03.04.2016) – I just stumbled upon this wonderful post about A Plan to Stop Sucking and Kicking Ass” (David Delp of what’s not to love about that? I would encourage you to visit this page and watch the video. Try the mind mapping exercise, then come back and share your results.

So, off with you. Maybe you feel compelled to stop everything right now, and not look at your email, letting calls go to voicemail…that would be what a Rebel would do. But then again, a Rebel would also like to have a frosty adult beverage while thinking…so maybe wait. Whichever your choice, get to it.


A Letter to Myself

Dear Me,

Remember back in 2016, when you decided to write this post about your goals? Well, time to check in. Here is what you decided was important for you in order to find inner peace and success:

My dreams/goals for the future of me.

I would like to write more beyond my blog and newsletter. Specifically with the purpose of helping other learning practitioners find their best selves. I truly want to help the industry move forward.

I’d love to work with other Learning Rebels on projects. Let’s co-produce! Let’s produce quality and helpful knowledge bits that upskill, and increase knowledge.

I’d like to more involved in coaching women in the workplace, help them when they are first starting out. When women win, we all win.

Well, there is wanting to be able to lay around a tropical island relaxing after my multitude of paid speaking gigs. Speaking, sharing and connecting with people from all over…and make a living doing so.

How will I know I met those goals?

I will have authored books and articles of notable content (which sell). I will be paid to speak about the content. I will be making a living from that content. I will have developed partnerships to carry that content forward.

How will it feel if I don’t try and if I do? 

If I don’t pursue my dreams/goals I’ll be living in a hamster wheel. Always thinking “what-if”. Thinking, shoulda, coulda, woulda… binge watching “How to Get Away with Murder” and “John Oliver” while buried in an ocean of Cheez-its and Cheetos. I will become frustrated as my life seems to pass me by, without making a contribution to those around me. I will have to work until I am six-feet under (another good show) because my savings will not sustain me.

If I do pursue my dreams/goals, I will live a happier life. I will be a better partner, friend, mother, writer and entrepreneur. I will have a sense of happiness that leads to having a more fulfilled life with a livelihood to support it. Because I will have this peace of mind and happiness; this will allow me to create more, be more connected to a network that is increasingly important to me, therefore providing more value to my industry of choice. Ultimately, allowing me to have more freedom to help women who are in need of help and coaching. When women win, we all win. (Yes, I am writing this while laying around on a tropical beach…frosty adult beverage in hand!)

So me? How did we do? Are you buried under a cloud of Cheeto dust? Or are you happily working virtually with other Learning Rebels, saving the world, while drinking sangria on the beach? I hope that we’re saving the world!

Cheers to you!


I had certainly thought about my dreams and goals. I had spoken about those same dreams and goals to other people. But it feels so much more powerful when you see them, written, in front of you. Certainly more powerful knowing that in a few moments, I will be clicking the “publish” button. Okay, now I’m afraid. I can actually feel my heart beating in my chest. This is a true “work out loud” moment. I’m working through my dreams and goals with all of you. It takes a village, right?

There is a moment in everyone’s life where the need to settle down and review the purpose of one’s life. To do so with an open audience puts it all in a different light.  Let’s help each other grow stronger. Develop our knowledge. Take Learning Rebel curiosity to a new level. (To help out here are a few notes and a worksheet to help you stop procrastinating this important exercise.

Your Challenge (1)

Will you accept my challenge?

As a reminder:

Your job if you wish to accept it – Share your greater purpose.

  1. Share your own letter the comment section of this blog post. Let’s start a fire.
  2. Remember – If you want to share your work but not with your name attached, email me:, and in the subject line write “Finding My Great Purpose” then attach your letter. I’ll copy it into the blog comments without your name.


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Shannon Tipton

Shannon Tipton

As Owner of Learning Rebels, Shannon Tipton is a skilled learning strategist, content developer and International speaker. Shannon has over 20 years of leadership experience developing successful learning strategies and infrastructures for training departments within organizations in North America, Europe and Korea.

Shannon works with people and organizations to develop learning solutions that brings actual business results. Recognized as bringing real-world expertise into the learning field, Shannon integrates technologies and social learning tools to strengthen workplace alignment, enhance collaboration and increase learning connectivity.

As author of “Disruptive Learning” Shannon frequently speaking at conferences across North America and Europe and ranks as one of the top 100 L&D influencers on Twitter (@stipton).

12 thoughts on “Finding Your Purpose”

  1. Dear past me:
    I’m so glad you never stopped being curious, that you always looked up, and you asked why not.

    I’m proud that you never thought in terms of failure or setbacks. You’ll be happy to know that we’re still living by mom’s quote, “every moment is a teaching moment”.

    Like you always said, right now, at this very moment, life is good. We are where we’re supposed to be.

    I know you can’t imagine where that is, and I’m not going to ruin your joy in getting here. Just remember, everything works out to get you to where you’re supposed to be.


    I love you!
    Future me

  2. Dear #me2016,

    So, there’s your #me2016, absolutely biased, never peer-reviewed and scientifically completely unproven one person study on your ridiculous hypothesis: “Life is a like a spiral experience stream: every 9 years, the universe is throwing similar challenges at you. Your choice is whether you stay within your comfort circle or expand to the unknown. Your choices are literally shaping your own universe. What does it look like? Like a steady but boring cylinder? Or slightly expanding upside-down cone? Or an ever expanding spiral tornado?”

    Well, it’s 2025. Let me see.

    9 years ago you made a choice to step out from the comfort circle and expand to the unknown. You’ve never had doubts about your creativity, innovative thinking and unbridled urge of sneaking just enough gamified humor into work that won’t get you fired. But this time it wasn’t just about you. It was about leading and inspiring others. Watching people unleash their own creativity and innovation to save the world from boring training while inspiring them to grow (notice, you still hate the word “develop”) made you happy and proud at the same time. And the rebel club you left behind, it’s still going on. Now there’s a waiting list to get in.

    You did make some people feel uncomfortable on the way. Some people are perfectly fine with infographic-level depth of knowledge, gut research and fixed mindset. Meanwhile, you’ve found new allies on both in cyberspace and physical space to do meaningful work on shaping L&D (which is now rebranded under a different name). Those side convos at conferences between gamified presentations (and getting paid) are invaluable. Oh, by the way, we don’t call people “speakers” anymore, as we learned that that presenters took that too literally at conferences.

    Now, that screenplay you were writing in your free time? Remember, the first version in 2000? Yes, that horrible one? Good choice not to give up on that! The second version made it to the top ten in an international competition in 2013. Guess, what! You’d better start thinking of your acceptance speech for 2025.

    And if I can give you just one piece of advice, remember that saying: “your last horrible work you experimented with, shared and tweaked is much better than the perfect one you never had.”

    One last warning! Be really careful with…

    Sorry, gotta go. It’s happy hour!

    Cheers to the unknown,

    • Zsolt – This is wonderful, funny and inspiring all at the same time! Thank you for sharing your 2025 with us all. I may also be trepidatious about what may be coming to plant a microchip in my brain, but hey that’s the risk we all take…

    • Tricia – thank you for sharing your future self with all of us, and I feel positive that we would all be standing around saying, “That Tricia, she’s something really special…” but wait, we already say that – are we in an alternative universe? Hmmmmm.

  3. Dear Authentic Me,

    Can you believe it’s 2020 already? They say that time flies and it does…I’m just glad that you didn’t waste any of it by hiding your creative talents and not taking risks. These past four years were filled with you being present in the moment and daring greatly.

    You’ve always wondered what you would be when you grew up and now you can finally say you are there. You are sharing your virtual facilitation gift to more than just your organization or a few folks here and there. But it’s more than that…you’ve helped others to build their virtual presence by learning how to network and build relationships regardless of where they are located. Oh, and the blog and tip book that you wrote? Well that helped many a remote employee realize that it’s not insane to talk to your plant, cat, dog whatever during the workday…. Have you seen the comments from your blog readers about how your tips on staying engaged while being virtual helped them? You should go back and read them again!

    Your dream of collaborative learning in the workplace is no longer just a pipe dream and it’s no longer a fad. It’s now part of every day life there and it’s because you helped to lay the foundation and were such a strong champion…day in and day out. I told you that you weren’t doing all that posting on your ESN for nothing 🙂

    It’s good to see that you are also using your powers of sewing for good and not evil. Isn’t it fun to sew for people other than yourself? And to do it for a good cause? It brightens others day when they receive such a special gift. Speaking of good causes, I’m glad that you finally took the opportunity to get involved and are still helping people transition back into the workforce….it’s important work and they are so appreciative.

    Your decision to make your word for 2016 be “NOW” was one of the best decisions you ever made. I’m glad that you didn’t continue to hide your talents and your voice….because if that had happened, well, then it would be four years later and you would still be wondering what you would be when you grew up and wondering why the world was passing you by…..and that is a frustrating place to be. And no one wants to live there…well, at least not me. Instead you are happy and fulfilled, looking forward to each day. And you are collaborating with more people than you could have ever dreamed possible!

    It’s been a great ride these past four years…but buckle up because I’m just getting started!

    • This is fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing your letter with everyone. I appreciate your level of thoughtfulness. The part on choosing the word, “Now” as your word for 2016, particularly hits home for me. It’s a word with energy! No excuses! Just do it, NOW. Tremendous. Thank you again.

  4. Well you rebel, here we are in 2020. You never liked long term planning or reminiscing too much, so I will remind you of your life in 2016 and how your actions brought you here.

    You are just finishing (another) degree. Yep, some told you that you are the ‘eternal student’… But now you know where you are going. You decanted years and years of experiences in so many different areas, some you never thought of. And you re-discovered your path. As always, you are full of ideas, and you are keen to share them. It’s true: an idea is worth nothing if you keep it to yourself! This openness and enthusiasm brought you more opportunities and many meaningful connections that will support you for the years to come.

    2016 is your year: a big year when everything is collated in a beautiful, meaningful way. Might be that you are finally coming of age, or who knows, planets auspiciously align just for you.

    This is the year when a seemingly unimportant event that happened long time ago becomes the centre of everything you do. You realize that there is no meaning and no joy in pursuing anything for yourself only. A bigger house? Better holidays? More power at work? Nonsense! You become generous in a different, more creative way. You start seeing that your true inner purpose is to make a difference for OTHERS, to make them see their purpose and encourage them to take action. You feel the momentum and you decide to ride the wave, with no regrets or anything holding you back. You create your own 2016 revolution.

    Back to the future, in 2020: You are being told that you have touched people to make a change for the better, that you inspired people to stop waiting for permission and live through service. And no, you’re not a preacher (nothing wrong with that!). You are an influencer. You feel the energy you gain after each connection you make with others. You see an impersonal ‘healthcare system’ becoming more human, more creative, more kind and you are an essential part of it. You are on top of the wave and it’s the energy of OTHERS that is the wind in your sails. You can afford to ‘take a break’ but you don’t want to, because everything you do is so meaningful.

    So yes, you are happy in 2020. Happier and more accomplished than you’ve ever been. You are where you are, because of all the work, books, people, tears, jobs, papers and heart you put in. Because of living and working out loud, with no regrets. Now, keep on riding and see you in 2020!


    • Simona (you Rebel you!) – this is beautiful. With the mindset you have, there is no question you will be happy in 2020. Thank you so much for sharing what was in your heart and mind with all of us. It is most appreciated, you are already influencing others. 🙂

  5. Hello Kotchy – welcome to 2020!

    Great to see you again and, more importantly, I want to say how proud I am of you sticking to your guns and continuing to add value to the learning profession – a Real Rebel you are.

    You stood alone in being skeptical on MOOCS and they all laughed at you. Look at MOOCS now.

    You stood firm on why we need a week to celebrate Working Out Loud when we should be doing this every day – no celebrations required.

    You continue to work out loud every day and I am glad to see others have started to model your behaviour.

    Fads have crippled learning the last number of years, a few smart operators have made good money out of them – obviously not you – but you saw through that.

    I am also so proud that you were #neversilent and kept your #headinthegame.

    Keep questioning / Keep challenging – we need more Rebels in Learning.

    Remember #WEARELND !

    See you in 2025.

    • Good on you Kotchy! Keeping the Rebel faith alive and well, seeing thorugh the L&D goobly-gook and keeping true to your authentic self! Thank you so much for sharing your future with us all. Rebel On! #NOHeadsInSand here. 🙂

  6. Hey, Tom!

    Welcome to 2029! I know you never thought you’d make it. It’s been a wild ride, not just staying current through amazing advances in technology, but leading the way, despite being the “old man” among a younger field. Good for you staying the course as others promoted the latest fad or jumped on the latest shiny bandwagon. Thank you for always remembering that learning is, and has always been, social and largely informal, and for incorporating those elements into all planned interventions. Thank you for intuitively knowing when trends are toward what works well over what’s convenient.

    Best of all, thank you for recognizing that, as you age, you care less and less about what others think and making 2016 the year to put that plan into action. Showing and sharing your work has always been a part of learning, growing, and producing, but doing so without fear turned into what you will be remembered for. And whether you’re a CEO or taking orders at the customer counter, it has always been important to focus on the customer experience, but to do so from a place of truth to yourself. Well done figuring that out 13 years ago.

    Enjoy your retirement knowing you’ve handed your wisdom to a large group of capable, younger professionals who have gained from your wisdom. And you know you’ll never truly retire.


    • Thank you for sharing your future with us! I have no doubt you will continue to lead. It sounds like 2016 is the year of action! There is a lot of wisdom in your words, especially in caring about others think and contining to grow and share. I hope others take note of what you are saying. Thank you again!


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