On purpose

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Do you lead on purpose? Did you do that on purpose? 80% of leaders do not, according to the Harvard Business Review article titled “From Purpose To Impact”  by Nick Craig and Scott Snook.  Purpose driven leadership improves business results and makes us happier.

There are two types of purpose: The first is purpose that is imposed upon you and the second is purpose that is intrinsic.  Purpose that is imposed upon you has several types.  The first type comes from your affiliations.  This could include companies, causes and organizations, which have posted their purpose or mission on the wall or website.  The second type of an imposed purpose is one in which a boss or leader has insisted that you align yourself with.  This can be imposed  irrespective of your personal style or interests.  The third type of an imposed purpose is one in which you have aligned yourself with and you now realize that you have lost yourself in the midst of this process.

Let’s examine the first characteristic a bit more.  If you are a part of a business that has posted their mission or purpose statement, which you voluntarily work for and you find a strong sense of personal satisfaction / purpose then stay the course.  This is what I call work / life synchronicity.  Keep engaging and make the business better!  Imposed may be a strong word here, but you were not necessarily involved in generating that purpose.  You are now a part of moving that mission or purpose forward.

The second and third types can be more challenging.  If one of your symptoms is “I am not sure who I am anymore” then you have a problem.  If the feedback you have received from your peers is “You are a lot like fill in ‘leaders name’” then you have a challenge.  Those are symptoms of an imposed purpose that does not fit or is currently broken.

Craig and Snook encourage the following to identify your intrinsic purpose:

I.  The first step is to take some time in a group environment with trusted peers to identify your purpose.  Your purpose begins with your story.  For example: One of my key life moments was moving into the role of neighborhood activities director as a child.

What is one of yours? Yesterday during a coaching session, a client explained to me that he was always fixing something that was broken.  Today, at work he fixes the broke by developing strong procedures.  This is a strong theme for him and will help inform his purpose.

II.  The second step is to develop your purpose statement.  Try “My purpose is to….(list activities and verbs) so that …(list outcomes and results) You now have the beginnings of a purpose statement.

III.  The third step is to think from the end.  This is not in the Craig and Snook article. It is about vision. What outcomes do you want to create in work and in life?

Those three steps will help you move from having a purpose that is imposed on you to a purpose that comes from within you.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the article:

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” E.E Cummings