Updated: Mar 12, 2019
Where there is no vision, the people perish... (Prov. 29:18a)
All great leaders have a specific leadership point of view that defines how they see their role and their relationship to those they seek to influence.
Think about this: If you lived according to your purpose, what would happen? What difference would you make in the world? How would people describe you?
Whenever we are spurred on to think about our vision, we are often asked to think about how we would like others to remember us. What would you want written about you in your obituary? This may sound morbid, but it is effective. You need to be able to project the impact and contribution you would like to make in the world. That would be your legacy.
Your legacy is the sum of the accomplishments for which you will be remembered. It reflects the impact you have had on this world. Will you be remembered for storing up treasures on earth or in heaven? Defining how you would like to be remembered after your death provides a compelling compass to guide your everyday decisions and actions.
Alfred Nobel is best known for the Nobel Peace Prize. But do you know that this is not what he was originally known for?
When Alfred’s brother died, the newspaper confused Alfred’s life with his brother’s. While reading his brother’s obituary, Alfred discovered that the newspaper had printed his obituary. “The Merchant of Death is Dead!” proclaimed the headline. Nobel could not believe that he would be remembered for the destruction and devastation associated with his most famous invention: dynamite. Then he asked his friends in Stockholm, Sweden what the opposite of destruction is, and they said “peace”. Nobel was a changed man and purposed in his heart to use his wealth to alter his legacy. Nobel chose to refocus his life and ultimately rewrote his obituary. He changed his legacy in midlife. Today, Alfred Nobel is remembered, not for destruction, but for peace.
What are three things for which you would like to be remembered?
This is where values are important. Your values are what you stand for. They are non-negotiable priorities in life that define your character. Values guide your decisions and directions and behavior. Before seeking to influence the thinking and behavior of others, it is important to have a conviction about your own personal values. What are the values that will guide you throughout your life?
Purpose is Powerful
When leading others, the ability to motivate people is, in itself, not difficult. It is usually tied to some external factor like giving prizes or pressure. However, great leaders inspire people to act. Those who truly lead are able to create a following of people who act, not because they were swayed, but because they were inspired. Those who are able to inspire give people a sense of purpose or belonging that has little to do with any external incentive or benefit to be gained. But this influence first needs to begin within: great leaders need to personally have compelling purposes in their lives.
For leaders with purpose, the motivation to act is deeply personal. They are less likely to be swayed by incentives. They are even willing to pay a premium or endure inconvenience, even personal suffering just to reach their goals. They are able to inspire others, create a following of people – supporters, voters, customers, workers – who act for the good of the whole not because they have to, but because they want to.
Regardless of what we do in our lives, our driving purpose, cause or belief – why we do what we do -- never changes. What we do is simply the tangible way we find to breathe life into that cause. When your WHY is clear, those who share that belief will be drawn to it and maybe want to take part in bringing it to life. If that clear belief is amplified, it can have the power to rally even more believers to raise their hands and declare their commitment.
Your destination is your purpose. That’s where you are going. It’s like traveling to a certain location. To get there, we have a variety of vehicle options to get there -- e.g. a bus or a bike – one taking us there faster or in multiple routes. Most people mistake the vehicle they are in as their purpose in life. But sometimes, you need to get off and on certain vehicles to get to your destination.
That’s why we want the people of our organization to discover their purpose.
The former CEO of Navigators International once told me that at the start of every year, they ask their people to go on a paid personal retreat and rediscover their purpose in life. He said 60% of the time, people do come back re-energized and passionate to move further. Twenty per cent of them would like to have a talk, mostly so that they can take on another challenge or be moved to other job posts or department. Then I asked, “What happens to the rest?” He said that more often than not, they resign. Now that may sound sad. But the truth is, at least for that CEO, it is better to lose good people who are not aligned with the organization’s purpose because if not, they will end up doing a mediocre job at their post and live sub-standard lives.
People whose personal life purpose is aligned with the purpose of their job would love going to work. They are more productive and creative. They go home happier and have happier families. They treat their colleagues and clients and customers better. Purpose-driven employees make for stronger companies and stronger economies.
We had our business kickoff last week. It’s the time when we help our people review and recalibrate their goals to align with the organization’s vision and mission, and get everybody pumped up for the year’s targets. It is very important to remind people first of the corporate vision before we hit them with targets and quotas. It enables everyone to answer the question, “Why are we doing what we are doing?”
This year, however, we changed things up a little: we decided that each and everyone in our organization should know what their personal vision statements are. Truth be told, many have no idea what their personal purpose is. And even when they do, they are not sure whether it is compelling enough to build their lives around. It is very important for people to know their purpose in life. Who do you really want to be in the world?
So we requested all our staff to reflect and create their own purpose statement. We went through a process so simple that anyone would be able to write their personal purpose statement without any hesitation.
There are three steps to writing a compelling purpose statement:
First, think about two or three strengths or personal characteristics that describe you and are unique to you, and you feel good about yourself, and list them down. What nouns come to mind? Are you a mechanical genius? Do you have a good sense of humor? Do you have sales ability? For instance, I picked for myself energy and people skills. These are two obvious strengths that I have whether I am teaching or working with other people. How about you? What are your strengths? Write these down using nouns.
Second, identify some verbs that really tell how you like to influence other people. Since I am a teacher by heart, I chose the verbs teach and motivate to describe how I influence others. List ways you successfully interact with people. Do you encourage rather than tell? Do you manage more than you motivate?
Finally, visualize what your perfect world looks like. This is what we call your vision or image of the future. It also tells you what purpose you are working toward to help see happen. It should answer these questions, “What will the future look like if things are running as planned?” “What are the people saying and/ or doing?”
Now, complete the sentence, “My perfect world is…” In my case, my perfect world is when people know their life destinations and enjoy their life journeys. What’s yours?
Now, it’s time to write your purpose statement. Combine your two to three nouns with your two verbs and your description of your perfect world.
Here’s mine following those steps:
My life purpose is to use my energy and people skills to teach and motivate people to know their life destinations and enjoy their life journeys.
So what’s your purpose statement?
Boris Joaquin is a top-ranked public speaker and masterful trainer for leadership programs and other soft skills. He is a seasoned management consultant, being involved in various industries and business sizes, from multinationals to locally owned enterprises. Presently, he’s the President & Chief Equipping Officer of Breakthrough Leadership® Management Consultancy, Inc.
Boris is a registered Investor in People Specialist helping assess and advise other organizations to achieve their business priorities through the development of their people. You may be able to contact Boris at (02) 813-2703/32 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.