Today we’re reflecting on something that is essential to your leadership: purpose. Your purpose is your north star that informs your decisions, so without clearly identifying yours, you might feel like you’re floundering in your role.
But first, let’s clarify: a purpose is not a goal. A woman we coached once stated her purpose was to be the CMO of her company. That’s a goal — a great goal — but definitely not a purpose.
Think of it this way: the purpose is the reason why you set goals in the first place.
A goal is the desired result. It’s something you want to achieve, somewhere you want to go. Goals are useful. They’re actionable and measurable, and they keep you on track.
But purpose is your reason for doing something, for stretching towards those goals. Why to work that hard, to get up in the morning, to endure those tedious meetings? It’s because of your purpose.
What’s more? As it turns out, being connected to your purpose is good for your health! Research shows that having a purpose is correlated to positive health outcomes, including better sleep, fewer strokes and heart attacks, and a lower risk of dementia, disability and premature death.
So, what’s an example of purpose?
- A second-grade teacher whose purpose is to shape young minds and leave a lasting, positive impact on the future generation.
- A writer whose purpose is to connect with people around the world by sharing knowledge and information.
- A musician whose purpose is to write great music that makes others feel something.
As a leader, your clear vision of your purpose sustains you, and also propels your team forward.
To find your own purpose(s), ask yourself:
- What will people miss when you’re gone? And what are you leaving behind that people will remember?
- How are you using your role and skills to have an impact on the world around you?
- Why are you here, and not someone else?
- What are you most grateful for in your personal and professional life?
- Do the friends exercise: Ask your friends why they love you. Why have you chosen me? The responses you get are generally indicative of your purpose.
- Recall a time in your life that you felt most fulfilled by your work. Which parts of that situation made you feel so good?