Exploring Personal Purpose

2012 is around the corner.  It is a great time of year to think about purpose.  Although, exploring purpose is not like making New Year’s resolutions.  It is a deeper and ongoing process.  As you reflect upon the past year, can you say that you are living a life that matters?

As Americans, we don’t necessarily focus on purpose.  We are busy living in a quick-fix, instant-gratification society.  I never thought about the subject of purpose until I entered The Hudson Institute Life Launch program in 2002.  I decided to enter this program and the professional coaching certification program because I knew I wanted more from my work.  I had everything I thought I wanted including a well-paying job and a great deal of autonomy.  However, I still had a nagging feeling inside that something was missing.

What is Purpose?

Purpose is the reason you are here on this earth.  It is the inner motivation, which gets you out of bed in the morning.  Once you satisfy your basic needs of survival and earning a living, purpose is what provides meaning to your life.  Richard Leider, the author of The Power of Purpose, says that we ask the following questions in our quest for purpose – “Who am I?  What am I meant to do here? What am I trying to do with my life?”

Why Does Purpose Matter?

Purpose gives you a sense of direction in life.  It provides you with energy and inspiration.  When you are clear about what matters to you and what moves you, you are more likely to live a fulfilling life.  You can more effectively manage the challenges and surprises that come your way because you have a clear sense of what you want.

Leadership and business experts like Bill George, Bob Anderson and Dan Pink have identified purpose as an important factor in successful leadership.  The more a leader can relate his or her personal purpose to the purpose of the organization, the more effective his or her leadership impact is likely to be.  The desire to perform goes beyond short-term results and lucrative compensation plans.

Bill George highlighted Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon Products, in his book, True North.  Over time, she recognized that her personal leadership purpose was to “empower women.”  Her purpose ties in with Avon Product’s vision of being “the company that best understands and satisfies the product, service and self-fulfillment needs of women globally.”  In his article, The Spirit of Leadership, Bob Anderson of The Leadership Circle states, “Leadership is fundamentally about realizing our higher purpose and taking actions that make that purpose real in the conditions of our life.”  Bob’s work highlights the importance of combining personal development with organizational systems change efforts.  Dan Pink, author of Drive, highlights purpose as one of the three elements of true motivation.  He says, “The most deeply motivated people – not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied – hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.”

Do you have a defined sense of purpose?  Feel free to share your purpose below.  In the next post, I will discuss some ways to identify purpose.

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2 Responses to Exploring Personal Purpose

  1. The Ed Buzz says:

    My purpose is that each day, I have the the responsibility to make sure that 2655 children get the best possible education. That we do everything in our power to bring about change in the communities we serve and create a way for everyone in those communities to feel good about one thing they are a part of – our schools.

    kind of big, but I really feel like that’s what I go to work for each day.

  2. ksteegman says:

    Thank you for your comment, Ed. Your sense of purpose sounds clear and energizing!

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