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.