I had the privilege of attending a one day Leadership simulcast recently, and the theme was “Powered by Purpose”. It made me think, what is purpose? We hear the word often, but have we stopped to think about it? When I think of purpose – it is what defines us, drives us, and empowers us.
Meaning of Purpose
Let’s dive deeper and define Purpose even further:
“the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists, or to have as one's intention or objective.”
We all have the desire to make a difference, to contribute through work, society, friends or family. The company, Imperative, (a purpose consultancy firm) says that nearly all employees want to have their work be meaningful, however, only half believe that it is possible. So, ask yourself a few questions:
- When you think of your everyday work, are you driven by a purpose?
- What drives you?
- Are you present and relational?
And remember, it isn’t always about the result, but to “execute with purpose, not perfection.”
What if there is no purpose?
According to a 2015 Gallup Poll, Americans work between 47-50 hours per week on average. So that is a lot of hours being put in, however, what if you are not focused on your purpose? The outcome could be a lot of wasted time and unmet goals.
Andy Stanley, Leadership Communicator and best-selling author said that at the center of what we do, we need to ask ourselves “Who are we here for?” It is a good exercise to begin looking at work, personal life, and even friendships, through this lens. When you look through a lens of purpose defined by relationships and people, your focus changes – which can even change the outcome and the satisfaction of your work.
Additionally, Imperative documented research named the Global Purpose Index study and worked with New York University to conduct a specific research on purpose-oriented talent in the U.S. They defined purpose-oriented employees as people who see work as personal fulfillment and helping other people. They compared this group to non-purpose-oriented people, who see work as solely a source of income or status. They found that purpose-oriented employees scored higher than the non-purpose-oriented employees on every measure studied including higher levels of fulfillment in their work, more likely to be in leadership positions, and more likely to be promoters of their employees.
Highlights from the 2015 U.S. Purpose Index study:
Based on the simulcast and the research, I encourage you to identify what your purpose is at work. Know your purpose, talk about your purpose, and own your purpose. This makes me think about a story that is often shared from the 1960’s when President Kennedy was visiting NASA. He asked a man with a bucket and a mop what he did at NASA. The man replied, “I helped put a man on the moon.” That is a strong purpose. The man could have said that he mops the floor, but he saw his work through a lens of a greater purpose. This story has been shared over time as an example of how each of us, regardless of where we are on the ladder of rank, contribute to a greater purpose. Answer these questions today to help you foster your true purpose at work:
- Who am I here for at work?
- What are my top strengths that I contribute?
- Can I describe my purpose in a clear, simple way?
- Am I intentional in building relationships with others?
- Do I encourage input from others, leveraging their strengths?
- Am I stretching myself and encouraging others to reach their true potential?
- Am I asking “why” more than “how”?
- Am I resilient when things don’t go the way I planned?
- Am I intentional about being present and in the moment?
- How can I make an impact?
For more tips and a checklist to help you develop your purpose at work, see Imperative’s pdf document for “Purpose-Driven Leaders – The Three Phases of Development”.
About SABRAH WILKERSON
Sabrah Wilkerson is the Learning & Development Manager at Schellman. Sabrah has more than 15 years of experience in the learning and development field including consulting, needs analysis, design, development, facilitation, program and project management, and the evaluation of programs for leaders and employees for soft skills and technical skills. Sabrah’s primary focus is on employee development, and she is passionate about helping others achieve their full potential.