Four Ways to Discover & Coach Purpose

Four Ways to Discover & Coach Purpose

Just this past week I spoke to 350 HR leaders and then to 500 CEOs and entrepreneurs about the Power of Purpose. I showed them how purpose can win customers, engage team members and help all of us achieve our personal best. One of the key elements of leading for purpose is identifying your own purpose and coaching others to identify theirs. When team members work from a place of purpose, they are more engaged and perform better on every metric we care about, so helping coach purpose is one of the keys to effective leadership.

My experience shows that most people have a pretty good idea of what their purpose is. Here are four questions I use to help people truly uncover their purpose:

  1. What drives you? When do you feel most engaged at work?
  2. On days you feel you REALLY made a difference – what did you do?
  3. If you were gone from the team, what would people miss? If you were gone from your family or network what would people say was missed? How do you change the room in a positive way?
  4. When you were a child, what did you love to do & what irritated you?

That last question is an interesting one that was suggested by my wife Janice, a high school teacher. She says that most of should reflect on what we loved to do and what irritated us as children. In my case, what I loved to do was learn and tell stories. What irritated me was seeing people and situations where compassion and kindness was lacking. I always cared deeply for people and all living things. Not surprisingly, my purpose is to inspire individuals, organizations and society to be more compassionate and just.

The truth is, most people already know their purpose. But we as leaders are afraid to ask what it is. At my keynotes, I often give the audience less than one minute to answer the question “What is your purpose?” Then I ask each person to connect with someone else and share it. The room becomes energized with a positive buzz. I then ask, “When was the last time you knew you were living your purpose?”

I ask for a show of hands of how many people felt the purpose they named felt roughly “quite right.” Around the world about 90-95% of the hands go up. With less than one minute of preparation, most people can name their purpose.

Once You Have Your Purpose…Then What

So, what happens after you identify your purpose or find out a team member’s purpose? Well here are three simple actions:

  1. Write it down and look at it every day before you start your day. Find an image or something that reminds you why you are here.
  2. Every time you get to “live your purpose” in small or large ways, take a moment and notice it. Breathe it in. When you see someone on your team live their purpose, let them know you noticed.
  3. Finally, ask yourself each day, “How could I live my purpose more deeply?” Ask team members, “How could you bring your purpose to life even more in our workplace?”

If you want to know more about my talks and sessions on purpose, please read more information here.

Meanwhile, get clear on your purpose and start asking team members about theirs. The results might surprise you!


Dr. John Izzo has spoken to over one million people, advised over 500 companies, authored nine best-selling books, and helped some of the world's most admired companies. He has been a pioneer in creating successful businesses and emerging work trends for over twenty-five years.

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