Finding Purpose in an Unexpected Way
I recently attended a presentation by Dave Rendall (@daverendall), author of The Freak Factor. Dave explained that “What makes us weird also makes us wonderful, and What makes us weak also makes us strong.” It struck me that there are many similarities between perceived weakness and core purpose.
In its purest form core purpose is the “Why” we do what we do. The thing that gets us up in the morning and makes our hearts sing. Whether aware of it or not, organizations and the people within them have a core purpose. Once discovered, core purpose becomes the anchor from which decisions to keep, start, or stop doing something are made.
Several years ago I discovered my core purpose through a simple exercise introduced by Arnold M. Patent, author of You Can Have It All. I listed two of my unique personal qualities and the ways I enjoyed expressing them when interacting with other people. With those in mind, I pictured a perfect world and the way everyone was interacting with everyone else. I then wrote down what that felt like as a statement in the present tense. My core purpose was discovered by combining those three things into a single statement:
“My purpose is to use my strategic thinking and drive to help others nurture their entrepreneurial spirit to create the life they want.”
I use a different technique to assist leadership teams in discovering the core purpose of their organizations. It’s similar to Patent’s exercise but focuses on groupthink from a company perspective rather than the self. Once the core purpose is discovered the leadership team is able to become (and stay) laser focused on their goals.
Being fully aware of weaknesses and weirdness, might be another way to find a core purpose. Rendall explained that the things that are seen as weaknesses are mirror images of strengths. During Rendall’s presentation he had the audience make a list of our top five weaknesses from
a list of 52 choices. I listed my top five weaknesses as: Stubborn, Perfectionist, Obsessive, Opinionated, and Intrusive. He then revealed a list of 52 strengths. Here are the mirror image strengths to my weaknesses: Dedicated, Detail-Oriented, Motivated, Decisive, and Curious.
Using a different perspective and positive frame of mind, I found that what I perceived as my weaknesses are some of the very things that drive me to want to help others nurture their entrepreneurial spirit to create the life they want. What can leadership teams learn from seeing their weaknesses as strengths? They may find that some of the things that have helped their organizations achieve success, are the very things that are being viewed as weaknesses that they’re spending time and resources to fix. When a leadership team becomes aware that some of their weaknesses are in fact strengths, they will see them in a new light and can leverage them for the greater good of the organization.
Whatever method you choose to discover your core purpose or the core purpose of your organization is time well spent. Once you are clear on why you do what you do, stay true to it. It will guide you in times of indecision and validate your decisions in times of action. It will also give you alignment and confidence in what you do so that you can achieve your dreams and live the life you want.
Leave a comment if you’ve discovered your core purpose and tell me how you did it.