Who Says We Need Purpose?
One of my most responded to LinkedIn posts was refuting this notion of having a "why" for your business that leads to some higher purpose. For some people their why might just be that they need to earn a living. And that's perfectly ok. It's not like back in the day someone's purpose was to be a farmer or a blacksmith. They simply did it because perhaps their father did it, or that was their only option. And yet, we now live in a world where as entrepreneurs, we're bombarded with a notion of 'what is your life's purpose?'
Replacing Purpose with Passion
I recently watched the animated movie Soul. In the film, the lead character has spent his whole life believing that music was his purpose. It affected every decision he ever made and it could be said, clouded his judgment when it came to being able to be happy and content. Because he was always marching towards his self-proclaimed purpose of being a Jazz Musician he never stopped to just appreciate what he had. It was all about the mission, not the moment.
Do What You Love
At some point in the film, he has an epiphany from another character. That perhaps music isn't his purpose, it's simply his passion (cue head explosion). This struck me profoundly since I spend so much of my day talking to clients about how what they love to do outside of work, directly impacts how they perform or what they enjoy doing while in work. In other words, our passions are related to our abilities and in fact help to attune those abilities even more.
For example, I had a conversation the other day with a woman who works in the tech division of a large consulting firm. When I asked what she did in her free time, she told me that she loves to travel. Now, you might say, "big deal, so does everyone." But A) not true. Plenty of people don't like to travel. B) it's not the activity it's how you approach that activity. In other words, she likes to go places and truly spend time in a culture to get to know it better. She prefers to stay in one place and be immersed. Doing her research but living more like a local than a tourist. I pointed out how this directly related to her job. She's a former reporter, so she enjoys research, talking to people one-on-one (vs. in a group) and getting to the root of an issue. Now as a product marketer and analyst she prefers one-on-one workplace interactions and likes to take time to thoroughly investigate something and be thoughtful about it before weighing in.
This has nothing to do with her purpose but everything to do with her passion, and how that passion flows into everything she does. So how does she take this and use it to further flesh out her Personality Brand to her team and her managers, highlighting what she enjoys doing, what she's good at and getting the right assignments that serve her and the business? Well, once she's able to make this connection, she has clarity which begets confidence. This sets her up to advocate for herself in a way that's relatable and understandable to her manager and also makes sense for the business case. In other words, when you know what you're good at and what you enjoy doing, you can be a better employee and teammate. You know how to help serve your clients and your colleagues vs. trying to tackle projects or roles that aren't in your wheelhouse. Plus, this clarity allows her to feel comfortable being herself and bringing herself to work, in (overused jargon warning) an authentic way. So it creates a deeper relationship with her colleagues, but in a way that feels natural, not forced and not overly personal. It's like Goldilocks — just right.