The Importance of Purpose

Working with purpose, being “on purpose” we might say, most often is a place of high energy and momentum and can give you the intrinsic motivation to strive to achieve more, while simultaneously feeling fulfilled in and out of work, as I wrote about in January. On the back of the theme for that month, we found a curious trend as we counted the results of our most recent survey, which asked, “How important is purpose in your life?”.

Approximately 45% of respondents felt that their ability to act with their life’s purpose as their compass was entirely dependent on their ability to afford it, or, has been left with the younger, more idealistic version of our former self.

Rather than simply report a statistic, I thought that it maybe interesting to do something with the data, so I have created a small activity as part of this post for those who would like to add some self-reflection to their day.

Below is a visualisation of the data that the survey presented at the end of last month (you can click it and it will increase in size):

Having glanced at the image, I would like to invite you to take 2-5 minutes to reflect (perhaps with pen and paper) on the teams that you have been a part of and those you have led and ask yourself the following questions,

  • Which teams have you been involved with that have mirrored the above infographic?
  • At what points have you felt like the blue person at the front – when you felt that your work and decisions were in line with your purpose?
  • When were the moments that you experienced being the dark grey person nearest to the back – when you felt that your personal purpose had little to do with your work and your role in the team?

Now that you have had a chance to identify a couple of specific moments where you say that you have been “on purpose” and “off purpose”, let’s spend a little time analysing what were the conditions to create these environments. For a further 2-5 minutes:

  • Compare the conditions/context of each of the times that you experienced being the blue man and the dark grey man. How are they similar/different?

If you have been writing your thoughts down, what you should have now is a fairly brief, but tailored set of thoughts, feelings, actions and needs to create the right space for you to be making decisions on purpose and feeling at the top of your game. How can you modify your personal work interactions and space so that they better enable you to live your purpose everyday, and helps you to become the “blue man”?

For those who want to go a little further, imagine that the visualisation above is no longer a team from the past, but the one that you are leading (or apart of) right now. Imagine if the entire team were able to say that they were acting on purpose:

  • What would this look like?
  • What would be the benefits of such a team?
  • What would it take to create the shift?
  • What is your role as a part of the team to contribute to this, if any at all?

It may be an interesting idea to think that perhaps purpose isn’t determined by pounds and pence or the idealism of your university years, but could be rediscovered in less than 20 minutes at your own desk.

I would like to hear from those readers who do decide to take the challenge and take the time out for some personal reflection. If you would like to share what comes from it, then please leave a comment below, as it could be helpful for other readers.

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