Purpose is one of those buzzwords that is overused and often misunderstood. It gets lumped in with vision, mission, and a variety of other terms that help leaders and their organizations describe what they are trying to accomplish. Yet below all of these buzzwords is a central question that is critical to success: why?
Purpose is the answer to the question, “What is your why?” Have you stopped to ask yourself the questions lately: why do you do what you do? The best leaders lead from an inside-out perspective of knowing and living out their why, and they make it their mission to be the “why-carrier” for their business. Leaders are the only ones who can determine the purpose for an organization, and that makes the leader the most effective communicator of purpose.
But in order to communicate this purpose clearly, We need to answer two additional questions: where are we going and who are we. These are often labeled as our vision and our values. Vision is a picture of your preferred future, and values are the things you assign worth to every day. Purpose requires clarity and prioritization of both our vision and values. If we have strong vision with weak values, we run the risk of losing our why in the name of progress. If we have strong values with a weak vision, we run the risk of losing our why in the name of comfort. It is our responsibility as leaders to know our why, and to live it out every day through our vision and our values.
Today we’d like to invite you to take some time and reflect on your purpose. Why do you do what you do? What makes it important to you? What are your personal vision and values? Are they clear and written down? How do you communicate these things to others? Can your recall the last thing you did that demonstrated how you are living out of your purpose? Your vision? Your values? How do you measure these?
Some of these questions will take time to answer, but you can consider that time as an investment in yourself and your business. When a leader doesn’t prioritize purpose, they put a limit on their effectiveness, and it ends up costing them in the long run. And isn’t the long run what this is about?