One of the biggest questions I ask my coaching clients
What’s your purpose?
While it might not sound like an essential question to ask yourself as a leader, this is one of the biggest questions I ask my clients.
In fact, it’s so important to know, that discovering it forms a key part of my coaching work.
What do you mean by ‘purpose’?
While on the face of it, it’s a simple enough question, this one leaves many people scratching their heads and asking exactly what I mean.
That reaction is a side effect of our constant need to just ‘do’ and be busy. We fill our days with tasks and chase the ultimate dream of productivity and results without ever really stopping to think about why we do what we do.
That’s essentially what your purpose is – it’s your why.
Purpose isn’t external
Often, when asked about why they are doing something, people respond with some variation of an external motivator:
It’s my job
It’s what’s expected of me
It pays the bills
At best, they’re vague, and at worst they’re misleading. None of these are examples of real purpose. They may have a part to play in directing our actions, but they’re certainly not driving them in the way that true purpose does.
Your purpose is a very personal thing. While it will (and should!) influence your leadership role and how you present yourself as a leader; it remains no matter what role you are in. It drives what you do and how you do it, in every situation.
Over time, it may shift as your life and priorities change. For example, people’s purpose often changes when they start a family. Or a significant emotional event like the death of a loved one may cause you to experience a shift too.
The power of purpose
How does knowing your purpose actually help you as a leader?
It’s actually quite simple!When you know your purpose, and align your activities to that purpose, you become more effective. #purpose Click To Tweet
I said earlier that it drives what you do in every situation, but that’s not strictly true 100% of the time. We can make choices and take actions that don’t align with our purpose but that’s almost always as a direct result of an outside force.
Think of all the times you’ve felt drained by your work, instead of energised. Chances are, that you were working on activities that at best didn’t align with your why – and at worst, went directly against it.
Now consider why you were working on those activities. Was there some kind of external pressure? You felt like you had to?
Finding your purpose
Your purpose is very personal. It’s linked to your values and your strengths, combined with your life experiences. However, for many people, uncovering it is difficult. It’s often hidden under many layers.
Until you uncover the heart of it, you’re only scratching the surface.
That’s why so many people respond with external motivators when asked what their purpose is. In my one to one coaching and group coaching programmes, we spend some time uncovering exactly what your purpose is, and investigating how it links with your strengths and your values.
Here’s one technique you can use to find your real ‘why’:
Write down the first thought that comes to mind when you think about your why, using the framework ‘I want…. in order to…’
So, someone who tends to list the external motivator of money as their purpose might write ‘I want to get results at work in order to earn bonus.’
Now, let’s go a layer deeper. Repeat the exercise but for the ‘I want to…’ you will use the last part of your previous answer.
So, in our example: ‘I want to earn bonus in order to provide a nice home for my family.’
Now we’re getting closer… Let’s repeat it.
‘I want to provide a nice home for my family in order to give my family a safe and secure life.’
This is much closer, and with a little more digging you’d probably discover something else underneath that layer, too.
The key is, to be honest with yourself
There are no right or wrong answers to the question of what your purpose is, as long as you are totally honest and open.
When you truly uncover your purpose, you’ll know!
Finding your purpose is just one part of finding the real you.
Ready to learn more?
Download your FREE copy of my Inner Guide to Finding the Real You
Andrea helps you focus on leading yourself first, so you can be a great leader. Start getting your regular dose of leadership tips and inspiration with the ‘Leadership Breather’ – encouraging you to give yourself a breather and take 5 minutes for you.