Purpose Statement

Why You Need a Purpose Statement – and How To Write Yours

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.

Purpose StatementOne 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?”

-Steve Cooper

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 Statement

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.

Inspirational Leadership

How One Little Word Sets Inspirational Leaders Apart from the Rest

“Whether they’re individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead, not because we

have to, but because we want to.”

-Simon Sinek

Inspirational leaders often share a common attribute. They know the seed of success can grow from one small but powerful word: Why?

People inspired by their leaders will follow not because they’re being told to by someone in authority—but because they want to out of sense of shared values and beliefs.

Before you can motivate others, you must know your own “why” behind your values, your beliefs. It’s not about “how” you do what you do – but “why.”  More precisely, as long as we know our “why”, the “how” and the “what” will take care of themselves.

As you read through the following post, explore the “why” behind what really inspires you. As you do, you’ll find that you’re more easily able to inspire and empower those you lead to greater levels of success and fulfillment.

Inspirational Leadership

Understanding Your “Why” So Others Can, Too

In a well-known Ted Talk on how great leaders inspire action, Simon Sinek, author of “Start With Why” and “Leaders Eat Last,” brings home the value of knowing the why for your actions. He believes that people aren’t inspired by what you do as a leader as much as why you do it, and that what you do is proof of what you believe.

Sinek believes that the most inspiring leaders and organizations in the world share a powerful commonality that is in opposition to everyone else. He says they all think, act, and communicate in the same way.

Why Are Some Leaders Inspirational – and Others Aren’t?

If you’ve ever wondered why some leaders have the ability to inspire while others do not, Sinek says the explanation is quite simple: few people or organizations know the “why” behind what they do. Sounds surprising, right? But it’s very true.

Being driven by a cause, a purpose, or a belief will bring the right people to you who share those same values, who believe what you believe. And, says Sinek, those folks will work for you “with blood, sweat, and tears.”

Stop and let that soak in for a moment. By getting clear on your purpose, your why, people will follow you with their full selves.

So, How Clear Are You on the “Why” Behind What You Do?

Sinek masterfully deepens this concept: “But the inspired leaders and the inspired organizations — regardless of their size, regardless of their industry — all think, act and communicate from the inside out.”

Contrast this with the 70% or so of us humans running around on the earth operating from the outside-in. We can try (and “try” is the operative word here!) to get our needs of security, belonging and self-esteem met through others and, consequently, frequently feel disappointed and frustrated because we will never succeed getting from others what only lies within us. Living from the outside-in is therefore a set-up to a dissatisfying life and way of operating in the world. Living from the inside-out is another story.

To live – and lead – from the inside-out, start by finding your why – your cause – that drives you forward. Getting very clear on what your values are- and ensuring they are indeed your values and not someone else’s – s one sure-fire way to begin understanding your “why.” Another is to listen to that quiet, steady voice inside you, the one that has never steered you wrong.

4 Easy Questions to Help You Discover Your Why

This Forbes article has four simple questions you can ask yourself to better understand your “why.” Here they are:

1) What inspires you – what makes you come alive?

2) What would you say are your natural talents and strengths?

3) In what areas do you add the most value?

4) What matters most to you? How will you measure your life?

As you get clearer on what you stand for, watch as your team begins filling up with people who believe in the similar things you do. Watch as, together with you, these people put their all into manifesting the same, expanded results your vision had in mind.

Transformational Leaders Inspire Top-Notch Performance

Knowing that all-important “why” can guide you as a leader to use your own special combination of skills and strengths to excite and inspire both individuals and teams toward success.

Transformational leaders create the space for their teams to think bigger, to come up with creative ways to navigate challenges and to take on bold new projects. Transformational leaders inspire excellence from people through empowerment – rather than from “command and control” tactics.

Think about it – which of these motivates you more: Being “told” what to do – or feeling empowered…inspired…to move to greater levels of success? I’m willing to bet you’d rather listen – maybe even relate to – someone’s “why” than listen to a leader drone on about mission statements and goals that have little meaning for you.

Understanding Your “Why” Isn’t Just About You…

Having a clear understanding of your “why” has an important trickle-down effect. As others relate to and are inspired by you, others in your organization will also be motivated to reach their full potential as well. A win-win!

Honestly contemplating your “why” might open up new pathways you weren’t even aware of previously. Consider journaling for a week or two and scribbling down “why” you do what you do every day. I’d love to hear your results!

Looking for strategies on how to become a more inspirational—and effective—leader? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.