Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Plugging into your purpose

Music connection by lucyb0625
Music connection,
a photo by 
lucyb0625 on Flickr. 
Sometimes the days are messy.  The traffic lights are all on red on your way to work, your coffee spills onto your shirt right before the big meeting, and your dog comes into the house tracking mud all over the floor.  Some days it's not fun.


On other days there's no mess, but there's no hum either.  They can be gray as you mindlessly follow your routine.  You grab an extra cup of coffee and tell the barista to "make it a black eye" to give you an extra jolt of get up and go.  Then it's back to the salt mines.

What's wrong with these pictures?  These days aren't plugged into purpose.  The connection between the tasks at hand and the reasons for doing them has been lost in the shuffle.  When you're not plugged into your purpose even the small obstacles can be aggravating; they might even become show stoppers.  When the context of purpose is lost you start to wonder why you bother.  And when other people are involved, a lack of shared purpose means that you have a harder time working in sync with one another.

Uncovering Your Purpose
You can rediscover (or perhaps discover for the first time) your purpose by asking the simple question "Why am I doing this?"  or "What are my really big reasons?" It's helpful to write your answers down, because when the going gets tough the things that are obvious to you in times of relaxation and contentment aren't so obvious.  You'll want to save your answers for a rainy day - one of those times when your pulse is racing in aggravation, or when you're yawning with boredom because the world looks monochromatic to you and the tasks are the same old same old.

Big and engaging purposes are other-centered.  They contribute to the well-being of other people and the world.  They are about service.  In what way do you serve?  What is your calling?  What would you do (or are you doing already) without pay, just because you feel uplifted and whole and in flow when you are doing it?

Fulfilling Your Purpose
The means by which individuals fulfill their purpose are as varied and unique as the individuals themselves.  "What is your purpose?" is Question Number One, and Question Number Two is "What do you do to fulfill your purpose?"

Summit's purpose is to unleash human capacity to create peace and prosperity.  We seek to fulfill that by coaching, volunteering, facilitating, listening, writing, and a multitude of other activities.  When we are on purpose and energized it is because we are doing those activities, and with an awareness of the way in which it is helping to bring us in better alignment with our purpose.

Even small (by whatever definition you use) tasks can become fulfilling when they are plugged into your purpose.  If your purpose is to create and maintain a peaceful and nurturing household, tasks as mundane as cleaning toilets can become connected to the purpose.  They become contributors to a big picture purpose that provides emotional reward, and because of that contribution the tasks acquire meaning.

Purpose and Leadership
When you're in charge it's your responsibility to help people connect with purpose.  You define it in ways that help your staff  "see" what it is that you mean.  You allocate resources in alignment with it.  You structure your company to ensure that you have the people properly positioned to fulfill it.  You notice behavior that is aligned with your purpose and acknowledge it publicly.

Purpose In Your Company
Nobody wants to feel like a cog in a big machine.  At work people want to plug into purpose - they want to align with the company's, and they will likely have their own.  People want to be a part of something that is constructive and energizing.  Your company's vision and values, when compelling, communicated and committed to, can become the higher motivation for daily activities.  Through the connection with purpose, the act of cutting stone can be transformed into the building of a cathedral, which can be transformed into bringing people closer to God.

What is your purpose?  Are you plugged into it?  How would your day look and feel differently to you if you were?


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