The Road to Purpose

Ken Behring was a great American entrepreneur and billionaire. He died on 25th June 2019 at the age of 91 as a happy and fulfilled man. In one of his speeches, he told that his life had gone through four stages which he called “Stuff”. In the first stage, he thought that if he had the “Right Stuff”, he’d be happy. So, he bought the houses, the cars, the boat, the airplane-all of the usual toys-and yet he was not happy.

He described the second stage of his life as the acquisition of “Better Stuff.” He thought he’d be happier if he had a better house, a better car, a bigger airplane, and so on. So, he bought them. But he still wasn’t happy. Then he figured out that maybe he had focused on the wrong stuff, so he embarked on the third stage of his life, which he called “Different Stuff.” This is when he joined with a partner and bought the Seattle Seahawks. He thought for sure that if he was the co-owner of a professional football team, he would be happy. But he wasn’t. 

It was at this time that a friend invited Ken to join him on his private jet to fly to Europe and hand out wheelchairs to kids who had been born without limbs or who had lost their legs as a result of having stepped on a landmine. Ken accepted the invitation. 

On reaching the place, Ken was asked to give away the wheelchairs and place the children on the wheelchair. The first person he placed on the wheelchair was an eleven-year-old boy. When he was about to leave and get another wheelchair for one of the other children, the boy wouldn’t let go of his leg. 

When Ken turned back around to face him, the boy said through his tears, “Please don’t leave. I want to memorize your face, so when we meet again in heaven, I can thank you one more time in front of Jesus.” Ken said at that moment he experienced pure joy. 

Thus, he started focussing on the fourth stage of his life which he called, the “Heavenly Stuff”. When he returned home, he started the Wheelchair Foundation, which has now given away more than 750,000 wheelchairs to children and adults all over the world. He found joy in giving away wheelchairs.  

He said in an interview, “When I see the happiness in the eyes of the people who get a wheelchair, I feel that this is the greatest thing I have ever achieved in my life.” 


The secret to happiness and joy is simple: Find a way to serve. Living is Giving. We are all born with a life purpose. Identifying and living up to this purpose is perhaps the most important action you can take to be successful and fulfilled. To be “on purpose” means doing what you love, doing what you’re good at, and accomplishing what’s most important to you. When you think, talk, and act in alignment with your purpose, the people, resources, and opportunities you need will naturally gravitate toward you.  Live with Purpose!

(From John Parankimalil’s, ‘Inspirational Stories for Purposeful Living’, Volume 3)

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