Value Talks Podcast Episode 16: Finding Purpose in the Pain

Value Talks, a ValueHealth podcast

Hosted by Travis Tasset, the Value Talks podcast explores a range of topics that matter to people, including healthcare, leadership, and culture. In this episode, Travis and I discuss finding purpose in pain and getting through challenging times.

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Transcript of Episode 16

Travis Tasset: Welcome to this episode of Value Talks. I’m your host, Travis Tasset. Joining me again, my co-host, Dan Tasset. Dan, welcome to this episode. 

Dan Tasset: Thanks, Travis, good to do this again.

Travis Tasset: It’s been a while since we’ve last talked. I think our last podcast episode was published on the 17th of March and we actually recorded it, I think a week or two before that. 

Dan Tasset: Right. 

Travis Tasset: And this was pre COVID-19 pandemic. So, a lot has certainly changed in the last, well, you know, two, three months. And it’s just good to pick back up with the podcast and have a conversation about, I think the topic of today we’ll talk about is kind of, come back and revisit purpose. So I’d love to just get your quick thoughts and then we’ll do a quick review and then kind of expand on how that relates to today’s environment. 

Dan Tasset: Yeah, serendipitously. You helped me with a lot of the content and we co-author a training course on leadership. I don’t remember whether it was session two, three or four, right before the pandemic hit and it was on purpose itself. I didn’t know that coronavirus was coming in our direction, so the timing of it was really, really important. So I thought that was pretty interesting. And then of course, we did a podcast a number of months ago regarding the same topic of purpose. And so I’m anxious to revisit it again here and circle back, pick up where we left off and even maybe be a little bit repetitive of what we talked about, both in the podcast as well in the training session. 

Travis Tasset: Sure, absolutely. So just to quickly summarize that one. The podcast episode was podcast 15: First Lead Yourself and we talked about four steps to leading yourself. And we talked about step one, discovering your purpose. How to go about discovering your purpose if you don’t know it. I think we talked about the Mark Twain quote of the two most important days of your life are the day that you were born and the day that you find out why. 

Dan Tasset: Right. 

Travis Tasset: And then the Michael J. Fox quote, which I think that you know pretty well.

Dan Tasset: Yeah, right. The Michael J. Fox quote was something about your personal responsibility to find your purpose. It’s not just divinely inspired, but you have a personal responsibility to find what that is. 

Travis Tasset: Right, so we talked about four or five, I think there were five questions to help one discover their purpose. I’m not going to go through them again here. But for those of you that are interested in what those questions are, go back and look at episode 15 and as well as the show notes that they’re listed in. Step two, Dan, was living your purpose and we talked about the three questions to ask yourself. Anything that you want to highlight? 

Dan Tasset: Yeah. I mean, the whole idea behind finding your purpose and then living your purpose. It’s basically saying, you know, “What kind of person… who do I want to be?” What sort of father, mother, brother, sister, son, coworker, teammate? It is, who do I want to be? Or how do I live that purpose? And what’s reflective of that? So once I feel like I know what my purpose is, the reason I was created, the reason I’m on earth, is…

Travis Tasset: To live it. 

Dan Tasset: How do I live it? Yeah. And the series of questions that we went through attached to that too, is one thing to know what it is, but then you’ve got to take the first step, which is, begin to live your purpose. And you’ve got to start unpacking that. Again, it’s in that episode. 

Travis Tasset: Absolutely. And then step three, we talked about the habits, the processes, the systems, the tactics that we can put in place to help you become whoever it is that you want to become. So, what are your quick thoughts on that?

Dan Tasset: There again, if you follow that sequentially is that you know your purpose, you know why you were created and then you say, “This is the person who I want to be.” Then the next question is, how do you become that person? And what we lectured about in both the leadership training as well as in the podcast was, what habits, what systems, what processes do you need to put in place, so that you systematically and habitually become that person? We talked about that we’re not really big on goal setting, as much as just constantly putting the processes and systems, and habits in place that you become the person that’s living your purpose sequentially, in reverse order, right? 

Travis Tasset: Absolutely. I think a future podcast episode we might want to explore is all about creating habits. I’ve been learning a lot about habit formation and habit creation. There’s a really incredible simple system that one can use, so maybe we can explore that in a future episode. 

Dan Tasset: Not only that, but I think in the next leadership training, we should unpack that a little bit more and let’s write content together and unpack the habits that you form; that you put in place. How you can put those habits in place so that you can become who you want to become and live your purpose. 

Travis Tasset: Perfect. I very much look forward to that. So that was step three. And then step four, the daily declarations and the words to live by. 

Dan Tasset: Right. For me, it’s just a way of being able to remind yourself constantly, you could do it in a form of just daily declaration or depending on your own spiritual belief, being able to do it in the form of prayer. And that is, you know, at least daily in the morning and better if you did it at night, is just declare, you know, the habit that you want to create, so that you can become who you want to be to live your purpose. So it would be in the form of, you know, “I’m going to be stronger mentally and be sharper mentally, stronger physically. That is, so that I can become who I want to be. And how I’m going to do that is I’m going to eat the right kind of foods, healthy foods, and I’m going to exercise daily.” You get to saying that every day, twice a day, in the morning and at night, that’s your daily declaration regarding the one attribute that you wanted to be able to do constantly and then develop the habit around that. But if you declare it, state it proactively. Not, “I’m going to,” but, “I am a person who eats healthy and I am a person who moves and gets exercise every day so that I can become the who, the habit. So I develop the habit to become the who to live my purpose.” And so, again, sequentially in reverse order. 

Travis Tasset: So let’s talk about now bringing purpose to this pandemic. And I mean clearly, there’s a lot of pain and suffering that people are going through. You know, people… I don’t know what the total is today, if it’s 32 or 33 and a half million people are unemployed. Many people are furloughed, struggling to make ends meet, you know, worried and stressed out about paying their bills, how they’re going to put food on the table. Talk to me a little bit about, you know, why you wanted to come back and revisit purpose. And specifically, how do we do that, bringing our purpose in the middle of a pandemic? 

Dan Tasset: Right. Well, as you know, during the pandemic, I was live streaming every Thursday. So we’d normally do team huddles or employee forums once a quarter. But I moved those and sped those up, doing those once a week on a Thursday morning. And about three weeks ago, I made the comment during one of those live streams, to our employees and our leadership, that I thought that if they could fall back on purpose, which was the last leadership we had done prior to the pandemic, that it might help people get through as an individual, as a family, as a husband, a spouse, a wife, as well as a teammate at work. If they could rely and fall back on purpose, it might help them get through this pandemic in one piece, emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually. It might help them get through that pandemic. I had a number of questions, quite a few actual emails.

Questions, as you know, we both take chat during the live stream, as well as take email questions afterwards. And if I could consolidate most of those questions into one question, they all boil down to the same thing, which was, how do you find purpose in the middle of chaos? How do you find purpose in the middle of a pandemic? How do you find purpose in the middle of pain? And I thought it was really, really a profound question and I spent a great deal of time reflecting on that, which caused me to want to do this podcast, specifically on the subject. And it has to do with rather than trying to necessarily find your purpose during the pandemic, rather than trying to find your purpose during the pain, try to find your purpose in the pain or a purpose for the pain. Slight change of words but when I kind of started thinking about that, it changed dramatically how I think I could help people if they would just think about this for a little bit. 

Travis Tasset: So I think I know where you’re going with this, but I want to kind of have you unpack that a little more. What do you mean when you say find purpose in the pain or finding purpose from the pain? What does that mean? 

Dan Tasset: Well, let me draw an analogy. People voluntarily submit themselves to pain all the time; they do. Women intentionally want to get pregnant and have a baby. Maybe some don’t, right? Surely some don’t, but many, many intentionally, knowing good and well, the pain that they’re going to go through, through childbirth because they’ve had children before, intentionally get pregnant. Why would they subject themselves to such intense physical pain and how do they get through it? Because there’s a purpose behind it. Their purpose is to be a mother. They want to be the kind of mother they want to be, so they want to have children. So they endure the pain. People run marathons, an incredibly painful experience. Some people can’t control their own body, they lose toenails. Why would somebody run and put themselves through such intense pain, training, let alone the marathon itself? It’s because of the purpose behind the marathon is the gratification.

The discipline, the physical, the mental, emotional discipline they bring, the pain is worth it because there’s purpose in the pain. And you can go on and on, people that lift weights or people who go through intense pain to create a career, to create security for their family. Work hard, long hours to be able to do that because there’s a purpose behind it, because I’m a provider. I’m a father, I’m the leader of the family. That’s my purpose in life. So why is it that we’re able to endure pain in a very controlled and very, almost joyful way? Because there’s purpose. So if we could find purpose in the pain or for the pain, then we might be able to get through all of this pandemic. That was essentially my thought behind it. 

So to expand a little bit on that, if we just take that a little bit deeper for a minute, we can look at what’s going on. And if you look at social media and talk to a lot of people, people will try to tell you, “Well, this has really been a good thing for me and my, you know, my spouse, my family. We’re closer than we’ve ever been, and we’ve got to do movie nights. We get to do a lot of things.” And companies, “Well, this has been really good. We’re learning how to use technology and it’s going to change us forever.” You know, and that’s all great, I’m sure a lot of that’s out there. But the number of people who are unemployed, the massive losses that companies are enduring, I know good and well that there are people listening right now whose marriages are not better. That they’re suffering. Who maybe had control of addiction and now the addiction has gotten control of them. Who families and financial stress, the stress of being quarantined, the stress of being at home, the stress of being furloughed, all of that. Let alone the ones who have lost loved ones or who have loved ones who may be at risk of getting COVID-19.

The amount of pain that is being inflicted right now on the people across the globe is intense and a tremendous amount of pain. So looking at this, saying, “Can we find purpose in this pain? Can we personally find purpose? Can we find purpose in this pain as a family, as a couple? Can we find purpose for this pain as an organization?” Or are we just saying, “What is the point of all this? What are we doing?” And if we ask ourselves the question, “What is the purpose of all this?” and we can’t answer that, it’s going to be tough to get through. It’s going to be tough for you as an individual, it’s going to be tough for you as a family, it’s going to be tough as an organization. So, in my opinion, we have to find purpose for this pain, we have to find purpose in this pandemic. And by the way, it’s not over, it’s going to last a long time. If we found a cure tomorrow or a vaccine tomorrow, which is not going to happen, but if we did, the ramifications and the residual impact on this is going to last years. The pain associated with this is going to last years. We have to find purpose in the pain. 

Travis Tasset: I think that’s a really great point and in some ways we can use this time to find our purpose amidst the pain. We can use our purpose. Or what are your thoughts on the misuse of our purpose or misusing it? 

Dan Tasset: Yeah, just, you know, if you…

Travis Tasset: I mean, we can use it or not, right? We can use it or abuse it. We can use it or misuse it.

Dan Tasset: Well, it has to do with, if we said here for me and you say, “Alright, fine purpose,” I can’t find any purpose in the pain. I can’t find a reason for this. What’s the reason behind all this? What is the point of all of this? I think what you have to do is you have to go back as an individual or as a person or the organization and you have to say to yourself, “What was my original intent? Why did the creator of the universe create me? What was my original intent?” And I just think that if you have struggle finding your original intent, then you won’t be able to find purpose for this pain. You won’t be able to find purpose for what we’re all enduring and we’ll continue to endure. Purpose in the pain for the pain, if you can’t find your original intent. And the abuse that you’re talking about, I like to use the metaphor I’m infamous for, I need a screwdriver, can’t find a screwdriver. I don’t have enough patience to go look. I don’t necessarily put things back away where they need to be, in the toolbox or wherever it might be. Right?

So, ah, I know where there’s something that’s close, I’m going to go to the drawer where all the utensils are and I’m going to get a table knife. And I’m going to take the table knife. That’ll work for a screwdriver. And what happens? I bend the end of it, it breaks off, twist it, and now it’s not really… I abuse it. It’s not really any good as a table knife anymore, right? And so I’ve just abused it because its original intent was a table knife, not a screwdriver. So I just think if you as an individual can’t find your original purpose, you’re going to end up abusing yourself and you’ll abuse others around you. And it’s sad, that’s really sad, in my opinion, for you. All you have to do is figure out what your original intent was and you will find purpose in this pain, and you will find purpose for you. You’ll find purpose in this pain for your family. You’ll find purpose in this pain for this pain, within the organization that you’re a part of with your teammates. It goes back to original intent. 

Travis Tasset: So last episode, we talked about kind of the tools and the abilities that we have. Can you bring those into the equation with purpose in the middle of this pandemic? 

Dan Tasset: Yeah, right. I mean, there’s a couple things and I’m going to say it a different way than the other… I think each time, we could repeat ourselves the exact same thing, but I’m going to… every time we come back and we’re going to talk about purpose a lot over the leadership training over the next months. And again, these podcasts, we get a lot of people outside of our organization listening to them and I’m great with that. They’re originally intended, go back to original intent, for our internal people. We have thousands of employees and we have a lot of people across a lot of companies that we’ve invested in. And that’s the original intent of these podcasts is for them to become a better person, better people, better leaders. But I’m going to try to say it in a different way than what we’ve said it previously. 

I think that one way to discover purpose is to look at what you’re good at. I don’t believe the creator of the universe would have created me to do something and not have given me the skill set to do it or the ability to develop the skill set to do it. In other words, I don’t believe He would have created me or He created me to become an NBA basketball player, a 5’10” guy who can’t jump, right? So that’s clearly not my purpose. Now, that’s an exaggeration but the same applies to what is less obvious. It’s the same thing. I think what you’ve got to ask yourself is, “What are my skill sets? What can I be good at? What am I good at? What can I learn to do well?” because you wouldn’t have been created to do it if you weren’t given the opportunity and the skill sets to do it. 

And so I think you have to start self-reflection and self-evaluation of what you’re good at and not only what you’re good at, but I also think that you would have been created to find passion and enjoyment in the things that you’re good at. In other words, you would not only have the physical and the mental, but you would also have the emotional and the spiritual stamina and the wherewithal to have a passion for what you’re doing as well. So I think it’s a combination of every element of your person; not just the physical part, but the mental, emotional, spiritual, everything associated with it. So you have a passion for the purpose as well. So I think people make it way more difficult than what it should be to find their original intent. 

Travis Tasset: So we’ve also talked about kind of the concept of servant leadership and I can’t remember if this has been in the live streams or the leadership training that we did, or even a podcast. But can you bring in that concept and apply it in this situation? How does service fit into this picture of purpose in a pandemic? 

Dan Tasset: Well, to me, I keep going back to, if you struggle finding purpose, maybe start with, what is your original intent? If you’re having a hard time finding original intent, go back to some basic things and say, “What am I good at? What do I enjoy doing? What do I have a passion for?” If that’s not helping you and even get simpler than that, go to the basic fundamental foundation. Just start serving other people. Just start helping other people. What I think people get hung up on is, “Purpose is about me. It’s my purpose. It’s my purpose for me. It’s what do I want my purpose to be?” Maybe what you should be asking is, “Why was I created? Why did somebody else create me? What is their purpose for me?” And subsequently, “What should I be doing?” 

And I think the basic fundamental is always going to fall back to other people. Start serving other people. And in that service, you will find your original intent. You’ll eventually find what you’re passionate about, what you’re good at, and you will find what your purpose in life is. And then it’ll be easy to go back to the four steps; purpose, living on purpose, “Who do I want to become?” Step three, “How do I become that person? And then what’s my daily declaration to develop the habits that I can become that person and live my purpose?”

Travis Tasset: And during that step too, living your purpose, the third question that I think we looked at and analyzed was, “How do I want to contribute?” And that question to your point, is all about being in service.

Dan Tasset: Serving other people.

Travis Tasset: Well, I have one more question at least, Dan, and possibly more after that. But what’s the role of others that they have in helping us get through these trying times? I mean, what are your thoughts on…? I mean, it’s tough to go through something alone. Don’t you think it’s easier when we have the support from friends, family, peers, coworkers? I mean, I’d love to just get your thoughts on the role that…

Dan Tasset: You know, I suppose some people are okay with being alone. But you know, I think that by and large, our DNA as a human being is meant to exist and be with other people. And, you know, frankly, that’s why I’m doing this podcast with you. That’s why we’re doing leadership training. And that’s why we’re doing everything that we do, is to help other people, teammates, become everything that they can be and do everything that they could do, to live the purpose, the reason they were created. And so I think that we have to… and if you know, we keep going back to the basic and the most simple form of this in ultimately serving other people. You can’t serve other people if you’re alone.

So I think finding that not only support from other people, but you find that support by serving other people and being able to help them. And if ultimately, that’s not what all of this is about, I think you’re really going to struggle with things. So I just encourage everybody to make sure that they find the other people around them, a support group around, the people around them. You’ve heard me say many, many times is that, give me a description of the people that you hang out with and I’ll take the average of those people and that’s who you’re going to be five years from now. So elevate yourself and the people that you hang around with, elevate them. Serve them. Find your purpose, live that purpose, develop the habits and then the words to live by to get there. 

Travis Tasset: Yes, I agree. I mean, I couldn’t agree more. You know, I think we’ve all been through trying times lately and at least, speaking for myself, other people have been the ones that have helped me, you know, pull through it or get through the challenging and the tough times. So just the power of the community I think is a really, really strong point to emphasize. Dan, I know that we’ll have another podcast here soon. But anything that you’d like to share with our audience, as we kind of close out this session?

Dan Tasset: Travis, look, really one of the most difficult things for me during this pandemic has been, it made my purpose more difficult to live, in many, many ways. My purpose in life is to help others, encourage others through leadership, to be more, do more, love more. And I’ve had to figure out… rely on my purpose but I’ve had to figure out alternatives around doing that. Where I would normally do that in person. I feel much more effective, more comfortable in person with people, one on one or in groups of people. So I had to figure out alternatives to that. And so I’m anxious to get back to the days where we can be more one on one with people and part of face to face, as opposed to using technology to communicate remotely.

But in the meantime, I just want to make sure everybody continues to listen to the podcasts that we have. We’re going to get back to the leadership training for our internal people, for anybody that wants to look at them. So even if they’re external, they’re open. However people consume content. They can go to Value Talks for the podcast and we’ll post the leadership work sessions as well. So I just really encourage everybody to stay tuned with us and if they can rate and comment that helps us tremendously as well. So anything like that, that they can do to help me fulfill my purpose. I want to do everything I can do to help everybody else fulfill their purpose. So, thank you. 

Travis Tasset: Thank you, Dan. Appreciate your time today. 

Dan Tasset: Thanks.