Finding Your Purpose

The way you can measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Issue No. 53 – 28th February 2008

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Finding Your Purpose

We hear a lot today about the importance of having a purpose. This puts pressure on people to aspire to noble and mighty causes, about which they may not actually feel truly inspired.  It’s important to keep it all in perspective. Not everyone can be a Mother Teresa or a Nelson Mandela and that doesn’t make your purpose, for want of a better word, any less noble.

The reason I’m talking about this is that I’m currently teaching at a local primary school and I travel down Lord Street Perth every morning, and almost every morning I see the same eccentric old man outside his eccentric looking house covered in hoardings, sweeping the footpath. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 7.00 am or 8.00 am, he’s there, and every day he entertains the frazzled motorists with his attire. Every day it’s different. He usually wears orange overalls but will wear a variety of wigs, hats and clown costumes.

His purpose is clear ‘ to entertain ‘ and he does it well. He changes the frazzled into something resembling human beings as they go off to work, and that has got to be a good thing. Some people will ignore him and some will dismiss him as just a silly old nutter, but most will be amused and will be distracted from their current woes, if only for an instant. That instant can be enough to change the outcomes for some people for the rest of the day. I look forward to seeing him, wondering what he’ll be wearing today.

The concern many people have is that they perceive themselves as not having a purpose. They just see themselves getting up, going to work, coming home, getting up, going to work etc. throughout the week. Changing your attitude to what you’re doing in your daily round is often the key as you realize you are exactly where you’re meant to be right now. Sometimes, however, you are not ‘on purpose’ and need to change tack. There’s a book available with this wonderful title, ‘I Could Do Anything I Liked As Long As I Knew What It Was’. Clearly, lots of people face this dilemma. Having ability and skills does not necessarily translate into a purpose, measured by set goals. Your goals are part and parcel of your ultimate purpose which does not have to be earth-shattering or world-record breaking. It can be as simple as sweeping the path in a funny get-up to amuse the passers-by, successfully raising a family or achieving a breakthrough with a child that all others had abandoned.

I remember my mother once commenting in her latter years that she didn’t feel she was of much use to anyone. We were all shocked as it was obvious what her purpose was ‘ she was always there for us. That included the children, grandchildren, siblings, friends and neighbours. She was always willing to drop whatever she was doing to have a cup of tea with anyone who popped in, hear the news, solve the problems of the world with them, and wave goodbye till the next time. This was a simple purpose but what an impact! Who has time to listen to anyone these days?

I often see disheartened teachers wondering how long they can stay in the system. Every year the kids seem harder to manage, there’s less parent help, fewer resources available and so the teachers start to doubt themselves and even their vocation. When you realize the number of children whose lives have been affected by the influence of one teacher who cared, there is no need to ask whether you are doing the right thing. Perspective is everything. Don’t let the minutiae of your life get in the way of the big picture.

If you’re still not convinced you’re on the right track, ask yourself this question, ‘What would I be doing if I could do anything at all, money being no object?’ Beyond the initial responses of Sleep, Go fishing, Holiday etc, how would you then fill your days? If you answered writing, for example, then why aren’t you doing that now? If you are teaching, for example, because your desire (read ‘purpose’) is to serve others, then in what other way can you serve others? If teaching, for example, allows you to serve your purpose, can you doubt you are in the right place? If your current circumstances are the means to an end, then put some dates in place as to when you are going to pursue your ultimate life.  Meantime, what is it that gives your life meaning right now?  That is your purpose.

Quotes of the Week

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand.  Woodrow Wilson

It’s easy to make a buck.  It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.  Tom Brokaw 

Do not follow where the path may lead ‘ go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Source unknown

For Aspiring Children’s Writers

If you are interested in writing for children, I recommend you subscribe to The Children’s Book Insider newsletter.  Published in the USA, it is part of the Write4Kids website and provides information for writers.  They have just published an e-book ‘I wish someone had told me that!’ in which experienced authors were asked to write on these specific topics in order to inspire and give advice to aspiring children’s writers:

When I started, I wish someone had told me …                                                                       
The best advice I ever got was …                                                                                          
The biggest mistake I ever made was …                                                                                
The most important thing a writer can do to achieve success is…                                               
I really need to tell you this …

This is the book I contributed to. 

To purchase a copy of this e-book, click on this link


When Insults Had Class

These glorious insults are from an era when cleverness with words was still valued’

“He had delusions of adequacy.” – Walter Kerr

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill

“A modest little person, with much to be modest about.” – Winston Churchill

“He is a self-made man and worships his creator.” – John Bright

“I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.”  – Irvin S. Cobb

“He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others.” – Samuel Johnson

“They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.” – Thomas Brackett Reed

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” –  Oscar Wilde

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.” – Groucho Marx


Jurien Bay PD 2007

What would you tell other people about this presentation? ‘

‘Great ideas ‘ all practical and the music is fantastic.’                                                          
‘Very relevant to ECE and lots of fun.’                                                                             
‘Informative, hands on.’                                                                                                         
‘It is worthwhile attending a course held by Marlene.’                                                            
‘Well worth learning and applying.’

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

PO Box 6894, East Perth WA 6892, Australia
T: +61 8 9325 1204 M: +61 (0) 410 64 2781 E:

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Until next time – continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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