I find that one of the most powerful things in life is finding our purpose and recently I have been having a lot of conversations with people about ‘purpose’; their purpose, the organisational purpose and even the purpose for a meeting or project team. I therefore thought a series of very short blogs on this subject could well be helpful for many of you.
Without a purpose we can drift from month to month and year to year, being blown by the metaphorical wind and tide of life with no focus on where we should be heading. With a (strong) purpose we can weather most storms, show resilience, courage and an inner confidence that others find comforting and inspirational.
So the questions that come to mind are: what is a purpose, why is it so important and how do we find our own? I shall answer these three questions over three separate and short blogs over the next couple of weeks. I would love to hear your feedback as we go so I can address any questions in the next instalment, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. What is a purpose?
A purpose is an intent and a ‘why’ statement. According to the dictionary it is “the reason something is done.” In my experience, the more succinct we make our purpose statement, the easier it is to understand and remember, and the more potent a tool for us in the task, project or life in which we are seeking success.
One of the challenges with finding our purpose is that there are so many different levels we could pitch this at. Pitch too high and it gives us very little help and direction. Pitch too low and it lacks the passion and drive to bring out the best in us. Consider these four challenges:
- Go shopping to get food for tonight’s meal
- Fill the fridge with enough food for a week of healthy and nutritious meals
- Provide enough information and financial resource for all the family to be able to live a healthy life
- Teach and equip us so that we can grow and thrive
Look at these carefully. All have a ‘what’ statement together with a ‘why’ or purpose statement. But the purpose grows in context. If you gave yourself a few minutes to develop a plan to answer each of these, then you may find that the latter ones give you more freedom and scope together with a bigger picture (longer term and higher context of purpose) for why you need to do this. The important thing here is that there is no right or wrong, it’s about which helps you the most for where you are today?
Many of you have probably heard and seen Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is often reported that our journey through life can be about climbing this ladder as we tick the box of what is required in our life at any one time. I think there is something here that relates to finding our purpose. At the base level we need to find food and water so our family can survive, before we move on to develop safety and security so our family can have fun, learn and grow, and so on to each level of the pyramid.
The thing is, it is possible for us to reach a transition point when we achieve one level and then feel lost until we define our next one. It may well be that we never really had consciousness of what our purpose was before, but now we feel lost, and this could be that the subconscious purpose that guided us is no longer relevant.
There’s nothing wrong in this, it’s how most of us experience life! If you are feeling lost then maybe now is the time to investigate what your current purpose is – and I use the word is rather than could/should be as I really do believe that finding our purpose is a bit like discovering a diamond in the rock; it’s always there, we just need to chip away to reveal it.
In Part 2 we will look into why having a purpose is so important. Keep an eye out, it’s coming soon.
If you’re interested in learning more about finding our purpose, or need help to do so (as an individual, team or organisation) then do get in touch.
After all, iTS Leadership!