What is your Compass?

A while back, I found that I seemed to have lost my compass. At the end of my work day, I wasn’t feeling particularly satisfied. Feeling more like I was a cog in the machine of getting things done.

As the weeks unfolded, I was not finding any joy in what I was doing, and it was affecting everything around me. What could I do? I tried a series of self-help programs that did have some impact on my mood and how I felt about myself. Still I felt that something was off.

What I began to realize is that I really didn’t have any purpose. You know, what was the point of this life. I was like many. I wanted to be successful. As part of my self-discovery process, I found that the motivation for my success was to prove to my father that I was better than he was, more than because it would give meaning to my life.

Over the next few years, I was able to clarify my purpose. This became my compass. I use this compass, when I remember, to navigate through the choices I face each day. It helps me determine what’s important and what’s a distraction.

The value of living this way led me to develop a program called Living on Purpose, so that I could help others find their compass as well.  This was rewarding work, and it helped folks bring meaning to their lives.

I also found this program to be just as useful to organizations. One of the challenges in organizations is having a shared framework for decisions. Many businesses have well articulated vision and mission statements. These are good, as far as they go. What they don’t answer is why we are in business.

For many, the answer might be to “maximize shareholder value”. These are code words for “make as much money as we can”. This isn’t sustainable and will always lead to disappointment. Finding the organization’s purpose is the most important initiative a leader can undertake.

It is this purpose that drives everything. It supports attracting great people. It encourages imagination and passion. It serves as a rallying point for its customers and partners.  Two famous Internet companies, Google and Facebook, have very clear publicly disclosed purposes. These purposes are about creating greater understanding between people.

Having clear purposes doesn’t mean that they are followed by the individual or organization all the time. It means that they have a compass to check-in with to see if they are following what they know to be their right path. If they find they are off-course, they can bring themselves back into alignment with their purpose.

If you find you want to know more about how to find your purpose or that of your organization, drop me a note.

Until Later,


Author: Thomas White

Over the past thirty-five years, Thomas White has created and led private and public organizations that initiated breakthroughs in areas as diverse as computer software, publishing, printing, market research, leadership development and organizational change. The common ingredients in his success are simple. He looked beyond the limitations that others believed and found real solutions to needs that business leaders have. He attracted the best talent to translate these innovative solutions into practical products and services that were of high value to customers. He created cultures where people love what they do, work at their best and produce extraordinary results. In addition to his role as a business leader, Thomas has been a pioneer and inventor of technologies in the computer-networking field. He is a patent holder for innovations in business process and workflow technology. As part of his passion for educating others about the interface of human and computer systems, he was the co-author of “New Tools for New Times, The Workflow Paradigm”. He has also written articles for numerous publications. In 2001, he turned his attention from leading companies to supporting leadership teams in creating organizations of excellence. After many years of being a part of the machine of change, Thomas recognized that business is the most powerful force in the world. It has a major impact on public policy and governments everywhere. It is a key influence on how we use our resources and sets an example of the values that shape communities from local to global. He formed the consulting firm of Profoundly Simple to be a guide for exemplary leaders - leaders who wisely uses the power they are entrusted with to serve their constituencies first and themselves second; leaders who know that it is good business to treat people with respect, honor the environment and act with impeccable integrity – leaders who inspire greatness in those around them and by doing so create great organizations that are notable examples of success. Feeling the itch to get back into the game again, Thomas joined with two long time friends, to start the C-Suite Network. This network of business leaders offers an online network, events, services, and insights to its 500,000 member community. In addition, the C-Suite Network produces and distributes television and radio content to an audience of over 5M per month

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