Questioning Purpose

I asked on twitter “What is the purpose of knowing what the purpose is?”

and then I went and got some lunch…

Martyn Clark said: “Creating cool stuff. Oh. That’s mine. Hmm. The purpose of the purpose IS the purpose. By definition. Fractal.”


Nick Holder said: “In order to feel purposeful?”


Michael Lewkowitz said: “to simplify”


Hmmm, all fair enough, but I wasn’t thinking of it that way, I hadn’t made it clear that I was after understanding why other people are so interested in understanding why I do what I do (a recurring theme and irritation for me…)

so I replied: “I was wondering more about what other people’s purpose is in knowing my purpose (or vice versa)”

and Martyn came back: “In that case, the purpose of ME knowing YOUR purpose, is so I can see how MY purpose relates to YOURS. Is there an OUR purpose?” 

Aha! Bombshell. Paradigm shift. I once was blind but now I see.

When someone asks “Why are you doing this?  What’s the point? What’s the purpose of this, I don’t understand”  I habitually become defensive.  Especially so if I don’t know or understand either.

I’ve never seen that question as a possible opener to collaboration, a means of finding some common ground that might take both of us forward.  I only ever see it as a way of closing me down, of pointing out that I’ve got it wrong – because under it all I believe that if I can’t articulate the purpose then I shouldn’t be doing it and that this question is a test to see whether I can articulate the purpose.

I feel a big weight being taken off me!  That might be useful then…


Originally posted on Lloyd’s posterous