Millennials are known to have “a strong sense of purpose”. So much so that 88% of them will stay in an organisation for more than 5 years if they feel a sense of purpose in their working life (source: Delloitte’s 2016 Millennial survey).
But tell me, young leader, if I asked you what your purpose is, what would you tell me?
“I want to make an impact”?
This is a good intention. But if you truly want to help achieve a vision, you need to go beyond “what” you do. You will have to consider precisely “why” and “for whom” you do it.
Articulating the one thing that makes you tick can be difficult. So here’s an easy way to find your purpose.
What is purpose?
Purpose /ˈpəːpəs/:”the reason for which something exists”.
In other words, it’s your deep motivation to do what you do.
For instance, many people – like me – provide consulting services to help businesses reach their goals.
But my purpose is not to deliver a program!
My purpose is to transform the way people work together.
The work I do with clients is the vehicle to achieve this purpose. The result might be, say, a new business structure, or cost savings. But the reason why I do what I do is to see my clients’ teams working together productively and feeling happy to do so.
Finding your purpose is a little bit like a quest, where the destination is the positive impact your actions will have on others.
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The easy way to find your purpose in your job
In your early days as a Leader, finding purpose in your job is no walk in the park.
So let me share what I teach young Millennial talents.
Finding what you want for yourself at work, in your career or even in life is akin to grasping your calling; there’s always an element of passion involved. Start with what, in your day to day, makes you feel good. It could be crunching numbers. It could be resolving problems. It could be closing a sale. It could be helping people work together.
The greater your attraction, the bigger your motivation, and the better you’ll become. The easy way to find your purpose, and I mean it, is to start with passion.
Ask yourself: What brightens the day when everything just seems “bad”?
For instance, when I lead change initiatives, I have to deal with all team members’ emotions (from analysts’ frustration to executives’ exasperation over delays). It can mean tough times; challenge between team members, heated meetings…
But there’s always a tipping point, where people stop arguing and start cooperating. It’s the signal I wait for – “individuals” become “a team”. That’s my sweet spot.
Pay attention to the moments where you feel in your “zone”. Nurturing them is the easy way to find your purpose. They bring you closer to what matters to you (even if you have only a vague idea of what it is).
Purpose, impact and results: all very different
There’s a little bit of a journey from purpose to impact.
People usually think it’s about achieving a strategy. Not quite. Impact and results are 2 different things.
- Results are a quantitative measure of your achievements.
- Impact is what makes you distinctive.
You create results for a company in the form of, say, a new product. But impact will live in the customer’s feelings when they use your product. It is to alleviate a pain, or make people feel good about something.
Think of people raising funds for charity; they envision a better life for others. Think of an Executive PA; she wants to make her boss’ days easier.
It takes time and diligent work to find your purpose
Early in a career (and here, I equally mean a career as an employee, or as an entrepreneur), you still have many experiences to go through.
Your journey, and the people you meet along the way, will shape your intentions over time.
What’s the easy way to find your purpose, then? How can you put “impact” at the heart of what you do?
Try these simple steps:
– Start by articulating clearly what you’d like others to say about what you do. What will make them connect to the work you’re doing?
“The way [your best show name] does [what you do] makes a difference because she helps us [what you want them to remember] “
– What’s the core discipline you must adopt to make sure the above happens? Prepare a few development goals with some simple actions to take every day.
– What skills are you missing to get there? There might be areas where you need to improve, or get training.
Impact happens when what you do benefits others. Being good at what you do is under your control. So emulate the wise habits of the best leaders, and embrace continuous learning.
We’re not all wise by age 30! (It would be a shame if we were, don’t you think?). Finding your purpose is a long-term quest, so revisit your progress and your intentions regularly.
Transformation is a process: it commands to change your mindset. You will inevitably evolve and refine your purpose over time, and that’s OK. Purpose is the goal of a meaningful journey, that shapes who you are as an individual.