It was back in the summer of 1991 that I first heard those three simple words that to this day I will never forget, and also are, in my opinion, three vital words for both personal and business success.

I had been living in Michigan, where I was raised most of my life. At that time, thanks to my college roommate’s vehicle dying–and the job freeze that took place nationwide prior to Desert Storm–we were both out of a job and worked for room and board at a small church where his future father-in-law was the pastor.

It was during the first part of our four-month stay that my roommate’s fiancée’s uncle and his family came to visit for a few days. He had worked in construction in Atlanta for many years and had recently moved to Tennessee to take a position as care-taker and maintenance man for a small Christian camp.

After seeing his presentation about the camp, I decided that going to work there for the summer might not be a bad idea, so I filled out an application to be a counselor and sent it off. I figured maybe after the summer that the jobs would pick up again in Michigan when I came back.

It was just two weeks before camp started that I learned my application had been accepted. So on June first I was Tennessee-bound; (I never did move back to Michigan!)

The uncle’s name was Jim Lass. He was likeable, yet always had a very serious air about him. One other thing that stills stands out in my mind about him is that, without fail, whenever he saw one of us either standing around or headed out across the grounds, he would call out these three words:

            “What’s your purpose?”

(Of course, when a six-foot tall, muscular red-headed man–who’s also your boss for the summer–asks you, “What’s your purpose?”, you must stop and answer–quickly!)

A few days later, after having heard him say that phrase numerous times, we began joking about it and mimicking him in a good-natured way.

But I never could forget how quickly he was able to get to the point with those few words. While trying to come up with a topic for a new article, I was again reminded of Mr. Lass and his question. So I began thinking about how it could be applied to achieving personal and business success.

No matter if we’ve been in business for one or twenty years, I think that we ought to continually ask ourselves the same question:

“What’s (my) purpose? Why am I doing this?”

This question applies not only to our business activities but also to our personal life as well. For instance, “Why am I pursuing this relationship?” Or, “Why am I in this group or club?”

In other words, we need to look at our life and our business with the same mindset that a prospect would use when reading our sales letter or watching our video presentation: “Give me one good reason why I should read this letter or buy your product? What’s the purpose?

As a personal example, my purpose for being involved in Online Marketing is two-fold: I love marketing and learning more about it, and I want to be able to support my family as a full-time marketer.

The purpose for my marketing business is summed up by the famous words of motivational speaker Zig Ziglar:

“If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.”

Of course, many people might disagree with my reasons and say something like: “I’m a marketer because I want to make money.” That’s the wrong perspective because money is a by-product and not the goal itself.

Listen, nobody is going to just “give you money.” They want to know, “What’s in it for me if I choose to give you my hard-earned money?”

This means that only when you demonstrate that your product or service either meets a prospect’s genuine need or solves a problem for them will they begin to be willing to let you have any of their money.

So, the extent of our success in any endeavor, whether in our personal or business life, is directly linked to what our purpose is behind it. If our motives are self-centered and greedy, that will become readily apparent to our prospects.

However, if we are offering someone something that is truly valuable and beneficial, whether it’s is our expertise/skill, a good or a service, then we cannot help but achieve at least some measure of success by using this “others-centered” approach.

So in closing, let me ask you : “What’s your purpose?”