The fifth Kwanzaa principle is “Nia” – a word that is defined as “purpose”. Implementing this principle in your life and your community means to make our collective vocation (purpose) the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
This means that at the most basic level, you need to know your history – your personal, family and community history – in order to restore people to their traditional greatness. Every one of us comes from somewhere – perhaps it is a geographically different place than where we live now, maybe our families have a mixed racial identity that includes many different races (my family’s racial makeup includes African-American, French, American Indian, Jewish and Caucasian), or we incorporate traditions from a different culture in our daily lives…whatever that is, that “somewhere” that has shaped us, we should want and encourage nothing but the best for those places and the people.
You are the summation of all of your past experiences and influences – be they cultural, racial, societal or some combination thereof. Finding your individual purpose can be influenced by that summation. Wanting to leave your community more beautiful than when you inherited it can force you to look outside the box, so to speak, and encourage stretching and growing.
I am a native of Detroit Michigan and will always hold the city in my heart. I now live in Norwich, Connecticut and that city has a place in my heart as well. I am active in both places – but my physical presence and the extra impact I hope I am having with my physical presence, must be focused on Connecticut. The largest impact you can have, and the longer reach your influence can have, is around your physical location. It’s much harder to affect a place that is hundreds or thousands of miles away. Put your energy and your work into your immediate surroundings – not someplace far away.
While discovering your purpose and exploring the principle of Nia, make sure you are looking at your immediate surroundings. Are you fulfilling your purpose? Better yet – are you putting positive action and intention behind finding and recognizing your purpose? If you don’t know what your purpose is yet, consider spending some time in contemplation so you can hear that “still, small voice within” and determine where to put your efforts.
I found a terrific post on a blog called “Dumb Little Man” that provides 7 questions to ask in order to help guide you toward your life’s purpose. You can find the article here. The seven questions are listed below:
- What do you love to do?
Your purpose is directly related to what you love. The most purposeful people in the world spend their time doing what they love. Bill Gates loves computers, Oprah loves helping, and Edison loved to invent. What do you love? Is it reading, writing, playing sports, singing, painting, business, selling, talking, listening, cooking, fixing broken things. Whatever you love, it’s directly related to your purpose.
- What do you do in your free time?
Whatever you do in your free time is a sign of your purpose. If you like to paint in your free time, then that’s a “sign.” If you like to cook, then that’s a sign, if you like to talk, then that’s a sign. Follow the signs.
- What do you notice?
A salesman notices an uninspiring sales pitch, a hairdresser notices someone’s hair is out of place, a designer notices a awkward outfit, a mechanic hears something wrong with your car, a singer notices when someone’s voice is out of pitch, a speaker notices an uninspiring speech.
- What do you love to learn about?
What kinds of books or magazines do you like to read? Do you read about cooking, business, or fishing, whatever it is, it’s a sign. What do you love to learn about? If you have a library, what books do you have in that library?
- What sparks your creativity?
Is it painting, designing, building, speaking, or selling? Writing sparks my creativity – carefully sculpting ideas on paper, ideas that impacts people’s lives; it’s a very creative process. Each word must be crafted for maximum impact. What sparks your creativity, do you have ideas for new food recipes, or a new creative automotive Web site?
- What do people compliment you on? What “fans” do you have?
If no one likes your cooking, then you probably won’t make a good chef. Do people compliment your writing, or your singing, or your amazing ability to sell? Once again, this is a sign of your purpose.
- What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Would you start a salon, go on American Idol, start your own business? What would you do if success was guaranteed? It’s a sign to your purpose.
Answer these questions for yourself, and you’ll be that much closer to discovering and living your purpose!