Last month, I wrote about knowing your “why.” Knowing your why is crucial to anything you do.
It can help:
- Inspire you to remain focused on what’s really important
- Deepen your capacity for meaningful introspection
- Guide you to set intentions which will help you become all that you are meant to be
- Help you make decisions more effectively – and mindfully
- Save you time and energy by avoiding wasted effort on meaningless things
- Help you create much more joy, fulfillment and, yes, purpose in your life
The deeper we can get down on the “why” scale, the better. “Getting ahead”, for example, will only keep us like a hamster in a wheel.
“Helping women leaders over 40 understand their innate worth”, however, will help us to narrow down our activities to those helping move this “why” forward.
One concrete way to get crystal clear on our why is to have a purpose statement.
This is different than a mission statement.
Forbes contributor Steve Cooper makes the analogy of your purpose being like your guiding light when the going gets tough. He also makes an important distinction between your personal purpose and a business mission:
“It might be easy to understand that your business mission is to create a suite of apps that will help educate children, but that doesn’t answer the question of why you are doing it.
What’s your personal mission?”
The Oxford Dictionary refers to “purpose” as “The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” In other words, your purpose is very closely linked with your “why”.
A brief history on personal purpose statements…
Decades ago, the renowned author Stephen Covey recommended that we create a “purpose statement” as part of his now infamous 7 Habits of Highly Successful People –specifically, Habit #2: begin with the end in mind.
Covey observed that people were working harder and harder without enjoying the fruits of their efforts. Why? A deficiency of clarity and vision. He compared this to “pushing a rope with all of their might.”
How many times have we done the same? Pushing and pushing, like being on a continuous treadmill – thinking we are taking all the right actions and yet wondering why we are still so unhappy.
It’s because either we are doing the right things for the wrong reasons or because we are doing the wrong things. Either way, when we are not clear on our purpose, things get all muddled up in our heads and we begin living someone else’s life – or, at least, the life we think we are supposed to be living according to society’s or someone else’s standards.
We have forgotten who we are and why we are here.
Purpose statements can help with that.
Today, some of the world’s most powerful leaders use purpose statements to set the stage for greater alignment with self, for growth and ultimately, for higher levels of success and fulfillment.
Here are some sample purpose statements from well-known business leaders, courtesy of this Fast Company article:
Sir Richard Branson, founder of The Virgin Group:
“To have fun in [my] journey through life and learn from [my] mistakes.”
Oprah Winfrey, founder of OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network:
“To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.”
Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup Company:
“To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference.”
A purpose statement isn’t set in stone – a ‘one and done’ exercise. In fact, your purpose statement is meant to be revisited, revised…and sometimes entirely re-written. As you transform and understand more about yourself, so, too will your purpose statement evolve!
To take more of a hand in your own evolution, please sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.
Colleen Slaughter Raue, Managing Partner of Authentic Leadership International
Colleen is a transformational leadership coach who guides international leaders as they attain the clarity, courage and self-confidence necessary to realize higher levels of productivity and fulfillment in both their personal and professional lives.
Her purpose is to facilitate her clients’ transformation from limiting beliefs and self-doubts into a deeper, more powerful knowingness of how much they – and what they envision for themselves – truly matter.
Colleen’s perspectives were recently featured in an article on the International Coach Federation’s website here.