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Pursuing Personal Purpose

Lately it seems that everyone on the planet is in search of their personal purpose. It’s “trending.”

  • Simon Sinek says Start with Why
  • Jon Gordon offers The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Your Life and Work
  • There is The Purpose of Your Life: Finding Your Place in the World by Carol Adrienne
  • Oprah recommends A new Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
  • You could take on Eric Maisel’s Life Purpose Boot Camp: The 8-week Breakthrough Plan for Creating A Meaningful Life
  • The Dali Lama’s purpose book is The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living
  • And of course The Purpose Driven Life: What Am I Here For? By Rick Warren. . . selling 30 million copies, the second most-translated book in the world after the Bible.

The search for the meaning and purpose of our lives probably dates back to the very beginning of civilization. It is a deep human need to know that our life is of value. And I am not making light of the question. Actually, I just have another twist on the question for you to consider:

What is the purpose of our work lives? And if we knew it, what would we do differently?

I have found this to be just as compelling a question as the purpose of our life. Meaningful work is an important part of a meaningful life.

Today as you go about your work, ask a few people if they have discovered the purpose for their work in your organization.  Can they tell you why they do the work that they do?

And as you ask this question – note those people who answer promptly and with conviction, compared to those who are quiet or give you an easy cliché like “I work to put my kids through school.” What differences do you note?

At Popeyes, we have found this a central question – what is your personal purpose for work?  We have created a simple, but challenging exercise called Journey to Purpose to help people explore the question.  (The exercise can be found at cherylbachelder.com/resources)

The exercise itself is not complicated – but most will tell you it is difficult to complete.  We ask each team member to do three things:  Look at the themes from their life experience, look at the values that they hold most dear, and look at the StandOut strengths that they bring to the table.

The struggle comes next — landing on that one sentence that captures the essence of your personal purpose for work.  Most write down a few thoughts – and stare at them for days, even weeks – refining and editing the words until they state a purpose that truly resonates in their heart.

What is the leader’s role in this process of discovery?

  • To encourage – challenge – confirm – affirm the person.
  • To suggest that they share their purpose draft with others that know them well – and refine with feedback.
  • To request that they organize three action steps that would evidence their purpose at work.
  • To ask them periodically how their purpose changes the way they think about work.

The most powerful impact you can have on someone’s life at work is this: help them find their purpose for work. It may be the most important purpose of YOUR life to lead them this discovery.

Be the leader who unlocks personal purpose in your team. Purpose will drive performance.



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