‘Tis The Season To Find Your Purpose

Dec 3rd, 2019

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.” 

Howard Schultz, Starbucks


In just a few weeks, another year –  and in fact another decade – will come to a close. For many of us it will be a time for family and celebration, but also for taking stock. Have we achieved our goals? and been true to our purpose?

In uncertain times and in a complex world, finding meaning in what we do is ever more important, both at home and at work. Many companies are recognising that both their teams and their customers want to be part of something bigger than a monthly salary, or a business transaction. Recent research by PwC has shown that millennials are 5.3 times more likely to stay with a company when they have a strong connection to its purpose, and the figure is 2.3 times for other employees. As for consumers, Anglo-Dutch giant Unilever reports that its purpose-led brands – like Ben & Jerry’s or Dove – are growing 69% faster than its other brands.

Like an increasing number of companies, Unilever has a clearly stated purpose: to make sustainable living commonplace. And this has a direct link with Unilever’s founding purpose, as CEO Alan Jope puts it, “I intend to build further on Unilever’s century-old commitment to responsible business. It is not about putting purpose ahead of profits, it is purpose that drives profits.”

Business owners usually start a business with a strong purpose, their why. This may get lost in day-to-day pressures, and in challenging times it is essential to take stock of what you stood for at the start, what makes your business unique – not just your USP, but your DNA – and what drives you emotionally to do what you do. One of my clients is an entrepreneur who is highly ambitious for the growth of his business, and whose fundamental purpose is philanthropy, with ethics and trust an essential to all aspects of his life.  One of his drivers to make the business a success is that he can realise his philanthropic goals.

I recently did a Strategic Review with the management team of a company where a clear sense of purpose has created a culture of outstanding loyalty. Not only have the founding partners built their business on strong values, but they make a point of supporting their staff in both their personal and professional lives, convinced that people are at their best when they’re happy. The result is a culture of implicit trust so powerful that I have rarely seen employees with such a strong commitment to their management. So it’s no surprise that they are always motivated to go the extra mile for their company and its customers.

Motivation is always stronger when based on meaning and on what is truly important to each person. I often ask my clients to imagine their “one-day-island”, the place they go to when they think “One day I’ll…”. That might be “One day I’ll be CEO” or “One day I’ll have children who will reap the rewards of my legacy.” Whatever it might be, it is essential to keep visiting that ‘island’ because dreams that are not nourished fade away. In my Executive Coaching programmes I encourage clients who have big aspirations to reflect on taking steps to make sure they stay in touch with what makes them feel alive. This is more than drafting a set of actions, it becomes a compelling plan that energises them as they feel free to do what brings them joy. And when we do what we love we are usually very good at it, which fuels our motivation to give of our best.

With the holiday season just around the corner, why not give yourself some joy and goodwill, by taking some time to identify or reflect on your own purpose. Or spread the festive spirit by reflecting on how shared meaning can support those around you. Here are some ideas to think about around this exercise.


  1. Take a holistic view to defining purpose

Start by thinking about the impact that striving to achieve your purpose will have on you, your family and your career. These three aspects are essential and inseparable, and all 3 are linked to your sustainable success.


  1. Visit your “one-day island” as often as possible

Keeping your dreams alive can increase the motivation to achieve them, so make sure you express your ambitions clearly and keep coming back to what it is that truly lifts you and gives you joy. Planning a pathway to reach that ‘island’ is a powerful first step in giving you the energy to get there, and is the reason why many clients enrol in our One-to-One  Vision Intensive Programme .


  1. Be true to your DNA

If you feel you have lost touch with your purpose, look back at your history to see how you got to where you are now and whether you are still aligned with your own reasons ‘why’, your unique DNA. Then focus on realigning if necessary.


  1. Link purpose with purpose

When you recruit a new colleague, ask them about their purpose and vision for the future . Look together at how it fits with the wider purpose of the company. Seeing how they contribute will give more meaning to their role and help leverage their strengths.


  1. Tap into the positive

Many people feel frustrated after a 360° review when the discussion and action plan centres on their development areas. It is important and highly productive to spend time to focus on their innate talents and strengths. These are often where they find the most meaning and where they can take their work to the next level.


  1. Ask powerful questions

And you’ll get powerful answers. We don’t spend enough time reflecting on how to build a life and career that is in step with what gives us meaning and brings us joy. You may want to work with a specialist on exploring just what it is that will make getting up every day both easy and exciting!


  1. Respect the root cause of your motivation

We are motivated to take action either because we are deeply attracted by something on the horizon or because we want to get away from something that’s holding us back. As they say, people join companies and leave managers. Feeling frustrated is an opportunity to explore how to make a change that will put you back in touch with your purpose.


  1. Don’t forget to keep going back to that island!

You will find you’ll enjoy the ride!


Find Out More

Do you feel a need to connect with the bigger picture? Are you struggling to clarify a plan that will make a difference to you or your organization?  If so, begin the conversation by emailing Oona at info@potentialplus-int.com

If you would like to know more about what our clients have gained from working with us we have lots of testimonials that you might find interesting.

Sign up to our Leadership Insights & Articles here.


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