Simon Sinek tells us that all companies know what they do, most know how they do it, but few know why they do it. Those companies that know their why, according to Sinek, are far more successful.
The same can be said of leaders. If you know your why, you’re far more likely to be highly successful.
Why should you identify your purpose? Daniel Pink, in Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, tells us we’re all driven by three intrinsic motivators: 1) Autonomy, 2) Mastery and 3) Purpose. When you know your purpose and align your work with your purpose, you’ll be more motivated to ‘get up in the morning’ and focus your efforts to fulfill your purpose.
When you know your purpose, you can not only direct your own efforts, but you can inspire others in at least two ways: 1) People will see that you have passion for your work, even if you don’t tell them your purpose; 2) If you tell them your purpose, it will resonate with those you lead and they’ll ‘get on board,’ to achieve shared goals and collaboratively make a difference in work and life.
How can you identify your purpose? In my experience, this self-awareness doesn’t come quickly and might not come easily. It can take several years to hone it, but when you do, you’ll know it’s right and fulfilling it – or working towards it – will give you significant satisfaction and help you succeed in work and life.
Start by simply thinking about it and asking yourself, “Why do I do what I do?” You might go deeper and ask, “Why am I here?” Some additional questions that can help you identify your purpose include:
- What do I do best?
- What gives me pleasure?
- What puts me in a state of “flow,” when I lose track of time?
- What do people tell me I do especially well?
- What seems to come easily for me?
- What do people appreciate me for?
Is your purpose different at work and home? I’m often asked this question. Certainly you can identify a professional purpose and a personal purpose, but if you take a bird’s eye view – or is it a deeper dive? – I think you’ll find you have a single purpose that applies to both.
What’s my purpose? As noted earlier, this didn’t come quickly or easily, but I know it’s right. My purpose is to help people succeed. In more detail, it's to help people succeed by using their highest talents, making their greatest contributions and living their best lives.
My purpose applies to my consulting and coaching, as I help firms and individuals succeed by developing and utilizing their talent. Prior to starting my consulting practice, my purpose helped me lead my team to become exceptionally successful.
My purpose also applies to my personal life as I always try to appreciate and encourage the talents and aspirations of my family and friends.
Knowing your purpose can help you achieve more professional success and personal happiness! Watch my future emails for what’s next on the leadership development journey.