23 Sep Lisa’s Story- Helping People Discover Their Purpose
As many of you know I have spent much of my life and career focused on helping leaders create purpose focused organizations that add value to society while also succeeding as an organization. To do this, one of the prime tasks of a leader (or a parent, teacher, or coach for that matter) is to discover their own purpose and to help others discover and activate their individual purpose. But how do we help others find their purpose and how does it change our leadership once we know their purpose?
One of my favorite experiences was when we were working with a major law firm on refining their purpose. At the start, each person in the organization was led through a process to name their purpose and to identify how to live that purpose more fully at work. Everyone from the senior partners on through the ranks went through this activity.
Lisa was the main receptionist at the HQ of the firm. When it came time to share her purpose, she said this: “I have never really thought about purpose, but having done this exercise, I now realize my purpose. All my life I have been a happy, optimistic person. I’m not sure why, I just am. But many people are neither happy nor optimistic. My purpose is that every person who interacts with me all day long, for three seconds or three minutes, gets a shot of happiness and optimism and feels a little better about the world than before they met me.”
What is most interesting is what happened in the weeks that followed. Lisa said she found a new passion for her work as all day she looked for ways to live her purpose in small but meaningful ways. Harold, her manager, suddenly found it easier to recognize Lisa living her purpose at work and commenting when he saw it.
The other thing that happened, which we have witnessed in hundreds of organizations, is what happens when everyone identifies their purpose, shares it with the team, and they all begin to think about how to live it more fully at work.
Three Questions to Help People Identify Their Purpose
Ever wonder how to help others (and yourself) find your purpose?
Here are three powerful questions that can help you name it:
- When you come to the end of a day, and really feel it mattered that you got up in the morning and that you contributed, what is it that gives you that feeling?
- If you were missing from your team, your organization, or family & friends, what would people really miss? What is the way you uniquely contribute?
- What did you love to do as a child say when you were ten years old, and what really irritated you about the world?
You can find other questions to help focus your purpose in my book The Purpose Revolution.
And as you probably know, research shows that when we live with purpose as we work and conduct our personal lives, we are happier, we have stronger immune systems, we live longer and perform better.