A core tenet of leadership is finding your “why”. Your purpose is what drives you, energises you, and makes you want to get out of bed in the morning. This vision not only gives meaning to your work but also inspires others around you and enervates them to support your cause.
While leaders may have a purpose, they sometimes lack the means to refine it and make it actionable. Purpose statements like “I want to make this world a better place” or “I want my company to be the best in the XYZ industry” sound idealistic, but are vague and impersonal, and are not often followed up with a plan of action.
While it is commonly acknowledged that a strong purpose is paramount for great leadership, finding purpose is easier said than done. Your purpose should be personal, specific, and should encompass the essence of who you are.
Reflection is extremely important. For finding your purpose, most of the answers you are looking for are within you. You need to evaluate what is most important to you, which in most cases isn’t tangible. Your purpose is the sum total of who you are, what you believe in, and what you want to manifest to the world as a result of the above. Think about what your raison d’être was growing up. Think about the biggest life challenges you have faced, and how you overcame them. Think about what you enjoy doing most now. Find common core values and beliefs that have stayed with you through your journey and craft a statement that captures your essence.
While you might want to achieve it all, realistically you may not. It is rightly believed, “If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have a priority.” Dream big but make sure it is something you can actually follow through. Your purpose drives your plan of action and is more than just a banner in the sky.
Find your position in the world - Your purpose doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It reacts to external factors and constantly tweaks itself. The external pool of knowledge can be tapped with two questions - What do you believe needs to change in the world? And what part can you play in changing it?
Make your purpose known - Be loud and proud about it, so that employees have a clear sense of your aspirations and know the role they play in achieving them. In a survey by WE Communications, 62% of respondents believed purpose-driven leaders could empower others to innovate and experiment, and that purpose could even originate from lower ranks of employees motivated to drive change.
As you go about your journey, your vision and purpose are the most precious resources for rejuvenation and motivation in the face of seemingly impossible challenges.
If your purpose is authentic, people know, because it drives every decision and every action. Don’t just let it stay on the home page of your company website, wear it with confidence and live it every day like a mantra.
As Mark Twain is famously quoted “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” —Mark Twain.