Scholar Skill – 9 Questions to Find Purpose

The Archetype of the Scholar is one that is ever searching for truth and knowledge.  One of our greatest quest for knowledge is to define and understand our purpose in life.  Knowing our purpose at a given moment enables us to set goals that resonate with us and guide us in taking actions that will have meaningful results.  But how do we find our Purpose?

The 9 Questions

In Her seminal work on on character developing in theater, Respect for Acting, Uta Hagen defined 9 Questions that can be asked in order to find the purpose behind a given characters roll in a story.  Given that our lives can also be viewed as the telling of a story these questions can be used to help us study and understand our own purpose. These questions are:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What time is it?
  3. Where am I?
  4. What surrounds me?
  5. What are the given circumstances?
  6. What are my relationships?
  7. What do I want?
  8. What is in my way?
  9. What do I do to get what I want?

Taken the time to answer these questions can result in some deeply personal reflection and should put you on the path to better understanding your purpose.  My original attempt at this article included my answers to these questions but somethings are only meant for self reflection.

Who Am I?

This is a biographical question.  take the time to define yourself in the most basic sense and then build on it.

What Time is It?

Answer this question in a broad sense and then work down to the details of the life position you are in.  Where are you at in the progression of your life?  Where did you come from, and what is on the horizon?

Where Am I?

This question is literal and figurative.  Describe your physical location, your mental state, and your emotional well being.

What Surrounds Me?

Answer the basics of who and what is around you.  Go beyond you immediate surrounds and define the local geography, the culture, and the people.

What Are The Given Circumstances?

Define things that influence your life that you have little to no control over.  Circumstances that maybe you created, or that have been forced on you by the actions of others.

What Are My Relationships?

Describe you most treasured relationship and work out from there.  Try to explain the reach of your sphere of influence.

What Do I want?

Given the answers to the previous questions this should start becoming clearer and clearer.  If you struggle with this go back and take an honest look at your previous answers and see if you are holding back.  If you still have problems with this then reach out to some of your closest most valued relationships and share your answers with them and see where the conversation goes.

What Is In My Way?

You know what you want, so why don’t you have it?  Obstacles, limitations, people… anything you can imagine that is hindering you from getting what you want should be listed.  This includes your own baggage.

What Do I Do To Get What I Want?

Make an honest list of what you are doing right now to get what you want.  Also list what you are doing that inhibits you getting what you want.

Arrival at Purpose

So you made it to the end of the 9 Questions.  Hopefully you gave it a solid effort and have built a collection of information that defines you as a person, clarifies your motivations, and gives context to you actions.  Know this purpose is powerful.  Take it and run with it.

If you want to discuss things a little further, check out our closed facebook discussion group to share your thoughts and join in the discussion. Or you can email me directly at  If you are interested in further reading check out other Food for Thought articles and learn all about the Archetypes of Skill.  You can also sign up to receive The Friday Huddle, a short weekly email from me that gives you the tips, insights, and musings that have gotten me through the week.

Live Skillfully!


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