The power of purpose

Glenn Thomas

The field of leadership development has increasingly become more popular than ever before. The debate of what is critically important for leaders to focus on has been at the center of this evolutionary discussion and rightfully so. Yet, so many organizations of all sizes and stripes fall short of articulating clear messages to their teams about what really matters and why, when it comes to being a great leader.
The fact is, as organizational leaders, we don’t find time or just simply don’t talk about what it means to have purpose in this world. I don’t mean to get too deep, but it strikes me to be incredibly depressing to believe that life has been relegated to working, raising a family, getting old, and dying. Don’t get me wrong, these aspects of life aren’t bad, but let’s put some things in perspective. I ask this question in every room I can, to people from all walks of life…religious folks, teachers, students, bankers, and everyone else you can think of - "What’s your purpose in life?"

And the pause is deafening. Here are these smart, caring, driven people, who haven’t yet thought about their purpose in life. Have you? It is a pretty heavy moment for most people; as they sit and think - here I am, living a life that I thought was a good life, and yet, I don’t know my purpose. I was there once. It was tough, pain-staking and emotionally draining. What I realized then, and what I uncover every day in these experiences, is that purpose is not a noun, it’s a verb. It’s not a person, place or thing; purpose is a state of being in action.

Activating purpose can seem intimidating; going through the process of asking yourself, “What do I care about?” and “What am I here for?” But asking a tough question is part of the journey, it’s part of the process in which we pause, reflect, and focus on that feeling inside that we have been ignoring; or that calling in our spirit that we have been deflecting. There it is, that’s purpose. It’s that in which guides our souls, reveals our deepest fears, and ignites our inner-most passions.

Personal Purpose

As leaders, we confront our “professional” purpose every single day. We define it, plan it out, and act on it to achieve the objectives we set forth. But as humans, we live life without often confronting “personal” purpose; it’s like we fall into a routine that defines for us this is who we are, and this is what we are good at. 

I frequently say, “As leaders, there is nothing more essential than self-awareness to activate the power of personal purpose.” My hope is that as leaders, as humans, we shift from being so hyper focused on the worldly routines, and we begin to recognize what really matters in our personal lives - the power of purpose.