We live in a time where many people are asking the question “What’s my purpose?” That question can come at any given time… when we reach midlife or when we experience a life change (divorce, death of a loved one, job loss, health scare).

To explore this very topic, Conscious Capitalism Chicago hosted Tim Kelley, acclaimed speaker and author of True Purpose: 12 Strategies for Discovering the Difference You Are Meant to Make.

People have the view that purpose is something that we do outside of work. Some of this may come from economics… we “work toward retirement”. Our end goal is to avoid work and maximize leisure, so we end up living into this future that assumes meaning lies outside or beyond what we do for a living.  

The context that we live in suggests that people go to work not expecting to find meaningful value but expecting to find economic value by trading time for money. Current movements, like Conscious Capitalism, are trying to break down this belief that somehow purpose and work cannot go together.

Why is Purpose So Important?

About one third of people are purpose-driven. Purpose-driven people are more likely to stay with a company if they find meaning in their work. And if they find meaning in their work, they are more productive and create better relationships with their co-workers. Their co-workers are fellow travelers on a mission to change the world. This is why purpose-driven companies seek out purpose-driven employees.

Purpose-driven leaders are usually more inspiring. Leaders who are only managing – just moving around parts or who are only focused on the bottom-line of profit – typically do not engage our hearts.  

Purpose is also a good guide in a confusing world. Classic business strategy that is based on predicting the future and planning moves ahead like chess is not as effective in this current market.  It’s difficult in this market to be able to predict and plan for the future. A company with a larger purpose has a rudder to deal with the uncertainty, because the purpose will help guide their decision-making and bring them back on course when the waters get rough.

Companies that are authentically “on purpose” and who share that purpose with their employees and customers tend to have a loyal fan base and the relationship becomes one of a shared movement, rather than a transactional exchange of goods and services. There is also plenty of data to support that purpose driven companies are profitable and sustainable over time. A company does not trade profit for purpose, in these business models, profit becomes a natural outcome of a purpose driven company.

So How Do I Find Me Some Purpose?

You can start by asking questions like:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What am I passionate about? What lights me up?
  3. What am I meant to do?
  4. What is the greatest positive impact I could have on the world?

During our session with Tim, he led us through an exploration of purpose at work and in life, and he went further to facilitate an exercise to help us connect to our own purpose. Tim’s book True Purpose, is a helpful guidepost for the journey. This excerpt of the book serves as a practical resource to get you started.

Here’s a parting thought on purpose: when you become clear about your purpose, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need blow up your current life or find a new job.  We can bring who we are and our purpose into our own current workplace or life situation and create greater fulfillment right where we are.

What’s your purpose?

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