Purpose. It’s probably a word you’ve heard bandied around a bit, but what does it really mean to have purpose, live with purpose, create a career on purpose?
I am personally obsessed with this concept of purpose and have been researching it for over three years. I’ll do my best to give my version of concept based on my experiences for you today.
For me, purpose is the stated expression of what gives your life meaning. A purpose statement is your answer to the question “What is the number one thing I want to share with people?” or “How do I want to show up in the world?”.
Simon Sineck (watch his TED talk) is a hero of mine, and he calls your purpose statement your “Why”. Gotta love this gem from Mark Twain: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
If you haven’t clarified or found your why yet, that’s ok, there’s simple process to find it out. And most people haven’t done this work. Researchers reported, in the article “From Purpose to Impact” by Nick Craig and Scott A. Snook, published in the Harvard Business Review: “that fewer than 20% of leaders have a strong sense of their own individual purpose. Even fewer can distill their purpose into a concrete statement.”
Here’s a look at why statements from some brands you’ll know (and keep in mind behind every brand there was once a person with something they wanted to share with the world):
Nintendo: “Putting smiles on the faces of everyone we touch”
Avon: “stands for beauty, innovation, optimism and above all women”
Starbucks: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time”
IKEA: “Create a better everyday life for the many people”
Nike: “To bring innovation and inspiration to every athlete in the world. (And if you have a body, you are an athlete.)”
Me (Alice): “Helping difference makers scale their impact”.
I am fricken in love with the imagery and energy of these words! When I say this sentence out loud, it fills me up with some serious get up and go. I created my business Intent Mind to add value to this why. Any day I can help good eggs to power up is a win for me.
When your why is crystal clear, decision making and planning is made a whole lot easier. When looking at Option A vs Option B you ask yourself, “What serves my why best?” and strategically decide from a longer term perspective. It’s like a compass directing you to which road to follow.
This is how it usually plays out:
No why → Reactive behaviour → Short term thinking → Easily distracted by other people’s needs and priorities → Prone to indecisiveness and procrastination
Clear why → Proactive behaviour → Long term thinking → Easier to form short-term and long term goals → Easier to tap into inspiration and take consistent action towards goals → easier for people to help you solve problems you care about
There are lots of different ways to find your why. One way to start is to scribble and write different versions until you’ve got the feels. A key tip is to keep it under ten words or less so it’s simple and you can remember it easily. If you want to get my exact process, feel free to send me a line.
P.S Post your why statement in the comments.
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