When was the last time you eagerly dived into a task you didn’t connect with, believe in, or understand?
If I told you to spend hours creating a complex spreadsheet but never told you why, or where your efforts would lead, how inclined would you be to do it?
Yet every day, employees are asked to produce deliverables, attend meetings, or spend time away from their families on work that means nothing to them – or work they can’t connect to how it makes customers’ lives better.
When we understand where our efforts lead and we can see a correlation between our efforts and external effects, we feel more satisfied, motivated, and positive about the work we do every day.
As humans, we all need a purpose to keep up motivated and engaged, Otherwise, work is just drudgery.
Who among you doesn’t have a story about getting “in the zone” and tackling a task where, in the end, you were rewarded with real impact and meaning?
And who among you doesn’t have a story about how miserable you were being a cog in the wheel, without any understanding of how the hours you spent led to something that really mattered to colleagues, customers, or community?
We want to matter. We want a destination to drive toward. When we find meaning, we are more engaged. And we also want a say in what that destination looks like and how we can get there. We crave autonomy.
And when we get it? Look out. You, your employees, your organization will unleash massive potential the likes of which you’ve never seen.
So before you roll your eyes at launching a “Purpose Project” or decide that all that feel-good stuff is a waste of time, think about your personal, business, or organization’s goals, financial or otherwise. Would you rather spend a bit of time defining a purpose everyone can rally around, and thus operate at maximum capacity – increasing commitment, innovation, and satisfaction? Or would you rather limp along by cracking the whip and naively expecting soul-drained individuals to work at their best? (which they won’t)?
Make the time. Articulate your purpose. Gather input. Share it. Live it. Think of this work as a fuel-boosting additive to make your productivity engine run better!
How to do it: Here are some prompts to start defining your overarching purpose. Gather the right people in a room, explore these questions, and craft your statement. This is the basis for creating a mission or vision statement that will ultimately guide your daily decisions:
- What is the future state of the world we imagine? This is what we’re all working toward, every day, when the going gets tough. Eyes on the prize.
- What lights us up about this work? Ask your people why they are individually here! You’ll get gold.
- What shifts do we create for our customers? What are the before and after? This helps us better articulate the future state we seek.
- With our specific strengths and talents, what can our organization contribute to alleviating the problem or fulfilling the vision? This will establish the scope for what you can realistically achieve.
- Are we looking to change systems, processes, hearts, or minds – or all of the above? Let’s be clear!
- If we do our job right and achieve this purpose, where do we go from there? This will help you expand into related offerings so you can sustain the business in the long term.