Since the beginning of the year, I have had the opportunity to hear a variety of speakers address the topic of Purpose.
Purpose is defined as:
- n – the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.
- v – have as one’s intention or objective.
At two separate events, preeminent Life Coach, Richard J. Leider, defined purpose in these ways:
- The essence of who we are and what makes us unique.
- An active expression of the deepest dimensions within us – where we have a profound sense of who we are and why we are here.
- It is the aim around which we structure our lives, a source of direction and energy.
- It is the lens in which we can see ourselves and our future more clearly.
Richard also combines purpose with power, which is the ability to do, act, or produce. It is one thing to have a sense of purpose in our lives, it is another to act on it and make good on what is given to us and is inside of us.
Richard has made a lifework out of asking people over age 65, “If you were to live your life over again, what would you do differently?” Three consistent themes were revealed:
- Be more reflective
- Take more risks (willingness to act)
- Have a purpose
Thus, Richard suggested that there are three behaviors inherent in having purpose:
- To have a purposeful mindset
- To live with purpose, we must practice it
- Our purpose must be fundamental to who we are
To put purpose into practice, Richard suggests three simple things as part of our daily routine:
- In the morning, pause, take three deep breaths, picture the day and think about how/who you can make a difference (looking for purposeful moments)
- During the day, look for these moments and act upon them
- At the end of the day reflect on these moments and ask yourself, “How did I grow & give?”
I also appreciate the perspectives of Angela Duckworth, a MacArthur “genius” grant winner, researcher, and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. She said that “grit” is made up of Talent + Passion + Perseverance. When she provided an analysis of “Passion,” she said it was the combination of “purpose” and “interest,” which she defines as truly loving something. The concept of “grit” is simply doing something, taking action, just like the second theme coming out of Richard’s research. But of course, it is important to act on what matters most; and that is where purpose comes into play.
Angela outlined four steps for “Deliberate Practice”:
- Set a stretch goal (I love this, because I define the “R” in “SMART” goals as “Reach”. How far are you willing to reach/stretch your performance to make it exceptional performance?)
- Focus 100% on what it will take to accomplish your goal
- Get immediate feedback/data that to ensure your progress and success
- Take time to reflect and refine your efforts
Angela further outlines that to build “grit” into our lives, we need to:
- Have an interest based on passion and curiosity
- Practice to be disciplined and deliberate
- Have a purpose in something you are truly interested in (love) and is important to you and others
- And have the right attitude, a mindset that is built on growth and hope
Angela suggested that organizations can create a culture of “grit,” and in some cases, countries even demonstrate that mindset (e.g. Finland).
When you look at Leading from the Helm’s 8 Factors of Engagement, purpose is measurable in the following three ways within individuals and organizations when people believe:
- Every day I have the opportunity to do work that I am passionate about.
- I clearly know how my work aligns to the goals of the organization.
- My job gives me purpose towards accomplishing the mission/vision of the organization.
Employees and team members can use these statements to daily analyze their purpose; and come up with one or two things for each statement upon which they can improve.