What’s Your Purpose In Life? OR What Will You Put In The Box?

A Texas businessman named Bob Buford had reached all of the goals that he had set for himself by the time he was in his early forties.

He was the President and CEO of a tremendously successful cable TV company; he had a happy marriage; he had a beautiful home; he had a lot of toys; he was financially secure; he was independently wealthy; he found that although people said that his life was successful, he was not satisfied with his sense of purpose.

So, he hired a consultant—a very bright business consultant—to meet with him and his wife Linda. Mike – the consultant – was an atheist, but he had a fabulous mind, and he asked Bob and Linda a single question. He took a sheet of paper and sketched a box on it. Then he asked them:

What’s in the box for you?

Bob asked Mike to explain, and Mike told him about a time that he had worked with Coca Cola, and they had decided that the main thing their company was about was great taste. That led them to develop a product called “New Coke.” That didn’t turn out so well.

Mike told the Coke guys that they’d put the wrong words in the box. He asked them, “What’s the driving force for which you exist?”

The Coke guys went back to the drawing board, and the new phrase that they came up with was “American Tradition”. The change led them to go back to “Classic Coke,” and that led them to recover.

Mike told this story to Bob and Linda and said…

“I’ve been listening to you for a couple of hours and I’m going to ask you what’s in the box. For you, it is either money or Jesus Christ. If you can tell me which it is, I can tell you the strategic planning implications of that choice. If you can’t tell me, you are going to oscillate between those two values and be confused.”

Bob Buford went on to write a book called Halftime and in it he writes,

“No one had ever put such a significant question to me so directly. After a few minutes (which seemed like hours), I said, “Well, if it has to be one or the other, I’ll put Jesus Christ in the box.”

They were forced to answer a question that every person is confronted with but many try to ignore.

Every person has to answer the question:

What are you going to put in the box? What is your purpose in life? What will give your life meaning?

Mike’s advice to the Bufords applies to us: until we choose what goes in the box, until we choose what has ultimate importance to us, we are going to be like wheat in the wind bending in whatever direction the wind is blowing.

One Comment

  1. Susan Early said:

    I thought it was interesting that Mike was an atheist who provided Bob with the answer. But, Mike didn’t see it for himself!

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