Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW
Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW

The power of purpose

Daniel Assaf giving his talk after formal dinner

When Daniel Assaf visited Warrane as the Wednesday Night Guest on 4 May 2017, his focus wasn’t on telling the boys about his career. He was there to motivate them – to inspire them to be their very best selves.

“I didn’t come here tonight to teach you, to preach to you, to entertain you, or even to offer advice that you may or may not have heard. I just stopped by tonight to stir something inside of you, to ask questions, maybe even to inspire you,” he said.

For Daniel, speaking to college residents is part of his job – but this session at Warrane was special for two reasons. One – because of his own fond memories of the college, which he used to visit when his brother was a resident there; and two – because this was the first time his wife would see him do what he does. Daniel works in the coaching and training space, something he felt called to while in his past advertising role.

“I had a little firm, mainly dealing in a niche market, a multicultural market in advertising,” he said. “We were helping mainly large organisations reach very lucrative migrant communities in Australia… through press, radio, TV, digital advertising, PR, event management.”

These days he goes into high schools, university colleges, organisations and so on to run workshops on a range of topics, from leadership and talent training, to communication, social and emotional intelligence and more. And instead of just telling the boys about this work, he decided to do something else: “I thought I’d actually just do what I do, so that you can get a feel and also I want you to understand the journey and my story that brought me into this position.”

The need for purpose

Daniel started by telling the boys a story with a clear lesson: that we’re all going to face challenges in life; and it’s a matter of how we deal with them. They would need strength to react well to these obstacles, and for that they needed something else – conviction and purpose.

Daniel told the boys what one of the most Googled sentences on earth is right now: ‘What am I doing with my life?’ He said that this is a common thread which he sees in his work in high schools, colleges and organisations; and that stemming from this is a suicide epidemic.

“There are so many people who don’t know who they are, they don’t know where they’re going, they don’t know why they’re here,” said Daniel. He told the boys that this lack of purpose was leaving young people feeling lost and disillusioned, and like nothing is going to make them happy – and happiness is what they’re searching for.

“Let me tell you guys,” he continued, “there are only two ways that anyone can find real – and I mean real – joy and happiness in their lives. By growing, and by giving… That’s it!”

Transforming your life

Daniel encouraged the boys to make a resolution in each of these four areas: intellectual, physical, spiritual and emotional. For example: an intellectual resolution could be to read a book each month; a physical one could be to commit to some regular exercise, and so on. “This is the only way you’re going to grow and move towards the best version of yourself,” he said.

He asked the boys an important question however: were they willing? Because transforming into the best version of oneself is hardly a convenient thing, and would mean encountering hardship along the way. “Will it be hard?” he said. “Damn straight! But also bloody worth it!”

He told the boys that struggles and wounds aren’t meant to break you, but to make you – they are the means of building character, fortitude, courage, and passion with which to fulfil your purpose. He told the boys that they’ll probably fall flat on their faces and that people will laugh but they should stay committed – because a lot of people in history looked foolish and were scorned, but they stayed faithful and everything came to pass. Nelson Mandela looked foolish sitting in a prison for 20 years; as did Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech; and Mother Teresa when she left home at 18 to live in poverty in India; and as did Jesus Christ when he was hanging on the cross. If a generation of men and women were really willing to be patient, look foolish, and live a life of conviction and commitment, how they’d change the world!

Daniel finished off: “Like I said, I didn’t come to give you any answers tonight – I just stopped by to stir something inside of you… to hopefully inspire you to grow and to give, and to live a life that matters… and to ask you: are you willing?”

[Warrane College offers a lot more than just student accommodation at UNSW: find out about some of our other guest speakers.]