Hmmm… that is a powerful question. I wanted to reserve my response until I had a chance to hear from other leaders.
So, I asked to find out. Instead of just one question, I added a couple more, “What is your purpose?” and “How do you know?” followed by “Does your purpose still inspire you?”
I wasn’t really sure what I would find when I asked these questions since Harvard Business Review article, “‘From Purpose To Impact,” by Nick Craig and Scott Snook cites evidence that only about 20% of leaders can express their own individual purpose distinctively and convincingly.
Add this to the fact that in our fast paced, results-driven world, we may not feel we have the time to even think about what actually brings us joy or gives us purpose and you have a recipe for uncertainty. But, taking the time to define our purpose is important—both personally and professionally—because our purpose gives us direction and makes our lives more than a series of tasks to be done—it makes the work that we do and the relationships we build meaningful and fulfulling.
Here’s what I learned from other leaders.
For every good question, there is always another good clarifying question in response. And so it goes. One leader asked me to clarify purpose in terms of “at work” or “overall” and I responded with “you pick”.
If your purpose and/or purpose statement is not clear to you, start by simply asking yourself questions to help you define it, such as:
- Why am I here?
- What matters most to me? What is my passion?
- What is it that others appreciate about me? What are my greatest strengths?
- What is it that I feel I am good at?
- What impact do I want to have?
Taking the time to define and really know your purpose and then aligning your efforts with your purpose, will re-energize you. You’ll be more motivated to get up in the morning and make a difference.
Given the statistics in the previously mentioned HBR article, I was amazed that everyone I spoke with was fairly clear about their purpose and able to articulate it. Expressions I heard included:
- Bring people together to achieve something
- Help people, support others through their challenges and personal growth
- Make a difference
- Honor the human/animal bond
- Advocate for others
Really nothing too surprising or novel, maybe even generic, straightforward answers. However, what was fascinating about all the conversations was the energy and tone. The individuals I spoke to lit up when talking about their purpose. They were excited to share and curious to hear from others. It was like their head and hearts melded together and you could hear their calling in their choice of words and confident tone. I was inspired.
This leads me to my response to the question, “Does your purpose still inspire you.” I believe my personal purpose is what it is and still feels motivational to me. AND what really inspires me is people! Hearing other’s stories adds enrichment and diverse perspective for me. Learning about people and their journey with triumph and tribulation is an absolute privilege. Supporting individuals to discover their “true north” and creating a pathway for transforming their personal purpose into actions that matters is an honor.
As I sat down to write this blog, I realized I really needed to ask more questions, such as:
- How are you turning your purpose into action?
- How would others describe your purpose after experiencing your presence?
- What would your purpose be if you had a “re-do” opportunity?
Maybe these questions will spur you to revisit your purpose, ponder all of these questions and re-energize your purpose in the world.
We would love to help you discover your purpose and put it into action, please connect with us: firstname.lastname@example.org.