Hello SOTGC community,
This week I attended an inspiring presentation by a member of our corporate senior executive team. He spoke passionately about our mission and the positive impact we make on the world. Afterwards he opened the floor to questions from the 300+ employees in attendance. I knew I couldn’t let this unique opportunity slip through my fingers. I raised my hand with fake-it-‘til-you-make-it confidence and asked my burning question.
“Considering the tenets of our mission, and the goals of this organization, what are the key competencies we should develop in our future leaders?”
I was hopeful, but I prepared myself for a generic answer about global mindset, innovation, or business acumen. I was pleasantly surprised by his response.
First and foremost – purpose. We need leaders who are driven by a deeper purpose, not money or position.
Yes! It took everything I had not to jump up and high-five this guy right there in the auditorium.
Why Find your Why?
Thankfully more and more companies are recognizing that a culture of purpose-driven leaders who are aligned with a purpose-driven organizational mission is the corporate recipe for success.
But, what exactly is purpose and why should you identify yours?
In the book How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life, Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston write, “Purpose is what drives you. It’s your source of inspiration and the compass that guides your way to making a difference, and at the same time to the deepest level of happiness.”
When you are clear on your personal purpose, you will make better decisions, have more energy, and have a higher sense of fulfillment. Overall, you’ll just be happier. Period.
How to Find Your Why – and What to Do With It
As an executive coach, I often work with leaders to gain clarity on their purpose. I’ve researched multiple techniques and ridiculously long lists (“25 Questions to Find Your Purpose”) to find what I believe to be the simplest and most effective way to find your why.
Psychologist, author, Harvard lecturer, and happiness expert, Tal Ben-Shahar, created a three-step process to identify – and live – your purpose.
1. Make three lists by answering the following questions:
- What are you good at? What are your unique strengths, gifts, talents, and abilities?
- When are you in a state of “flow?” What activities or subjects do you enjoy so much that you lose track of time when you are doing them, reading about them, or learning about them?
- What are your core values? What are the beliefs and convictions that guide you through life? What’s most important to you?
Hint: When making these lists, be as specific as possible. For example, maybe you really love public speaking, but only under certain circumstances or with certain audiences. Those details may reveal key factors of your purpose.
2. Review the three lists. What common patterns or themes do you notice? Chances are the elements of your purpose will start bubbling to the surface. (My tip: Take the time to write out your purpose statement. Keep it short – 3 to 5 sentences. Then post it somewhere where you can see it every day.)
3. Compare those themes to your current situation. What adjustments can you make in your career (or personal life) to better align with your purpose?
Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Good luck to you as you discover – and live – your why!