This past week I read an article from the upcoming May issue of the Harvard Business Review titled, “From Purpose to Impact”. As I read, I paused and re-read passages finding deeper understanding and insight. This makes sense. To articulate and live my true purpose and to help others do the same is at the heart of leadership. With purpose we connect our personal and professional lives. We remain whole.
Each of us has a unique set of ability, motivation, and expression. Research is now proving what we already know, both intellectually and emotionally … we are at our best when we operate from our place of purpose. Each of us has our own music, our own purpose.
“Most of us go to our graves with our music still inside us, unplayed.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
The HBR article can be found here (you may need to create an account to read in full – worth it). The authors, Nick Craig and Scott Snook, focus on leadership development as teachers and consultants. This article presents their case for how purpose has a deep and lasting impact for leaders. The secret of course is to articulate that unique expression that nails it for each person. So personal, yet recognizable for those close to you.
“Fewer than 20% of leaders have a strong sense of their own individual purpose. Even fewer can distill their purpose into a concrete statement.”
I highly recommend you read the full article and the provided examples. It is amazing how the leaders depicted found such unique ways to express their purpose. My hope is you stop, think, and most important, listen. Your purpose is there ready for you to articulate, share, and live.
From theory to practice …
What is my purpose as a person and a leader? I stopped. I thought. I listened. I am a writer so I wrote. Pages of ideas, words, and phrases. I was falling into a trap of constructing a long and involved statement. No. True purpose is short and goes right to the heart of the matter.
The answer was in my hand. I am a writer. Story is, and was, and will always be, important to me. I turned to a clean page in my notebook and wrote my purpose statement as if I always knew it.
This is me and how I lead. My purpose statement is the connection between my personal and professional self. I am both author and character in my story. There is a journey. There is conflict. There are heroes and indeed, there are villains. I write the story each day. I observe as an author views his world. I help others both understand the story and re-write it as needed. We share this story. The next chapter and how it ends is up to us.
As a team we create and accomplish together. We fight through the conflicts and deal with the antagonists. We transform and adapt, finding new ways to reach our goal. I lead us to create a story that is worthy of telling others. A lesson in leadership and teamwork. An adventure In fighting the odds and finding success. Indeed, a hero’s journey and a great story worthy of telling.
My purpose statement brings me comfort. I am whole. I finish my morning writing at home and transition to work and another story awaits.
I invite you to explore this topic for yourself. Go through the process to articulate your purpose and most importantly, live it. Let me know your purpose. I am always looking for a great story.