Purpose. Reason for existing. Why to wake up in the morning. Some of my favorite, casual, roundtable workplace topics. On the surface, these talking points are completely daunting. How do we get people to consider "purpose"?
I’m a firm believer in purpose over profit. I’m also a firm believer that purpose will lead to profit. Successful organizations have a clear, well-defined reason for existing that people can understand and articulate in their own words. However, an organization must first define what success looks like. Different perspectives will yield different definitions of success. For most responsive organizations, success is defined by being a company that’s built on purpose. Its people understand the evolutionary purpose of the company and can autonomously sense and respond to the organization's needs.
I believe it’s equally important for each person in an organization to articulate their own purpose, as well as the organization’s.
To do so, I created a ‘Purpose Canvas.’
The idea is to as succinctly as possible, map out your individual purpose. When finished, you'll have a place to look back and remind yourself as to why you’re here. Here are the results of my own exercise:
Step 1: Purpose: Why do you come to work in the morning? To help people feel comfortable with uncertainty and change.
Step 2: Values: What do you stand for? What are your guiding principles? Love, curiosity, knowledge, and truth - all matters of the heart and mind.
Step 3: Needs & Expectations: What do you need to be successful? What do you expect others to do to support you? A safe place to share unformed, nascent ideas. Coaching and mentorship on how to follow through on big ideas.
Step 4: Strengths & Weaknesses: What skills do you possess right now to help you achieve your purpose? Compassion. Empathy. I’m a superior global listener. Open-minded. Idealistic. Altruistic. What obstacles exist that prevent you from achieving your purpose? Fear of failure. I lack the full ability to influence up and to adapt to the social styles of my superiors. I want more credibility.
Step 5: Goals: Given the previous answers, what do you want to achieve by the end of this year? I want to write 5 blog posts on organizational psychology. I want to try something, fail, and comeback fiercely. I want to travel to Europe to broaden my perspective and shake up my current situation. What about the end of 2017? I want to enroll in a Master’s of Organizational Development program.
In sharing my purpose, I expose others to my inner light. And by listening to the purpose of others, I broaden my perspective, deepen relationships, and create a sense of connection with my colleagues. It’s also a form of self-disclosure and storytelling; a way to build a community. Because at the end of the day, an organization is most simply a community with a purpose.
Here's a blank image to download and try with your team: