Over the years I have spent considerable time thinking about and working on my life’s purpose. I once spent a week away on a personal excellence program, deep in the Oregon woods, on sort of a personal “anthropological dig” with the aim of better defining my life’s purpose. My work on the Character Triangle had its genesis there. The essence of spending time on one’s purpose is built around the belief that each of us will achieve a greater sense of fulfillment if we can define our life’s mission and build on our core strengths and attributes. This goes beyond “form” ( i.e. what type of job/career we have …e.g. engineer) or “outcome” ( i.e. end result …e.g. make a lot of money). Developing a life’s purpose is a deeper and more motivating concept. Ideally it is the basis for the action we take daily and in total summarizes our reason for being. My formal purpose statement has a spiritual, physical, and personal relationship dimension to it that I won’t go into here. But my work purpose is to make a meaningful and lasting contribution by adding enormous value to others as a leader, teacher, and coach. I have been in many different roles and companies, but my personal work mission remains my anchor regardless of changing circumstances. In my current role I want to achieve all the success that is measured by financial means but this is not what drives me and gets me up in the morning.
I realize that many of us feel fortunate in this current economic environment just to have a job. And all of us have a variety of personal ups and downs that can make the idea of a purpose statement seem almost trivial. It could even feel like an academic exercise to spend time on this. But my view is that investing in this is a very worthwhile and practical personal activity. Most of us don’t have the luxury of going into the woods to self reflect. But there is merit in having this intimate conversation with yourself over a cup of coffee or during a quiet walk. If you want a kick start, I suggest you get involved in an exercise called ”What’s Your Sentence: The Movie.”
Many of you who read my blog know that I’m a fan of Dan Pink. And readers of his book Drive may remember the “What’s Your Sentence?” exercise from page 154. Dan has a 2-minute video (below) to get up to speed if you need a refresher. The exercise asks you to distill your life — what it’s about, why you’re here — into a single sentence. It’s tough, but it’s powerful. I encourage you to participate.
The Character Triangle is a value and habit system and when you apply it to your life’s purpose it becomes exponential in its value to each of us and all the people we interact with. Please invest in yourself on this. You’re worth it.
With character and purpose,