The Debt of Honour & The Purpose of Your Life

They say the two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why. When you look back upon your life and look your maker in the eye, make sure you can say ‘I used every ounce of talent you gave me, I wasted nothing, and I stand before you exhausted, and others have breathed easier because I have lived’.

Leaving University and rushing into a job, relationship, home purchase and making money – you will soon ask ‘what is the purpose of my life?’

Let me tell you the story of a 12 year old boy, he would sit at the top of the stairs in the evenings overhearing his family downstairs discussing how they would pay his school fees. He had only that term been put into private school, they couldn’t afford it, even though they used to before that wake up at 4am, to start work at 6am and finish only at 11pm. He was terrified each day at school, until each term the fees would be paid, in case he thought the teacher would throw him out.

And when his first set of exam results came – and he was out of his depth – and achieved only 10% in some subjects, he said to his father, ‘I will never let you down again’. That day, the day the exam results were published, he wrote the title of each subject he was studying on a separate text book, and started revising that night for his next exams – some 6 months away.

It took him three years to ace every exam, beat every student and win school prizes – and sports prizes – because it was not enough to excel academically.

Years later as success after success came through, from working with Prime Ministers to high honours from the best Universities, to raising funds for great causes, he would remind his father of the promise he made, aged 12 ‘I told you I wouldn’t let you down, but you ain’t seen nothing yet!’. And his father would reply, ‘I know son, I know.’

That is a debt of honour. Find your debt of honour. Spend your life repaying your debt of honour. It may be a child in India who has to work at midnight under a kerosene lamp, they should never be more deserving than you, of the privilege you have. They are your debt of honour. You may be rich, but the richer you are, the more in debt of honour will you be for that reason. Other must never be more deserving of all you have. Hear their voices whisper to you at night as you sleep and in the morning see them standing in front of you, asking ‘do you deserve all this?’

Find a cause, whether it is widows, orphans, people abused by injustice. Whatever it is and whatever cause resonates, that is your purpose in life, that is why you were born.

Alpesh Patel

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