Clarifying your Purpose

By the year 2025 I want to positively affect 100 000 people and right now (21.6.18) I am at 13 014.

How does your Purpose compare?

Have you got one?

One of the elements of Resilience is your Purpose and as I have chosen to specialise in Resilience Coaching, it was important to me to have nailed this down for myself.

Ironically, one of the things I didn’t think about, was how people would react to this statement! (More on that later). Initially, I was clarifying my Purpose for myself, so that I could have it to hand, just in case anyone asked me if I had one. Whilst I knew why I did what I did, I hadn’t honed into it something so specific and concrete.

Underpinning your Purpose are your values and having a clear sense of your values, drive and direction will help you keep going whilst meeting challenges head-on.

The story behind my Purpose.

When taking a year out in 1996-97, I found myself teaching English Language/conversational lessons to adults in Hong Kong.  The lessons were four hours long and the “college” dictated each day what had to be covered by providing a photocopy of one page of a book and this needed to be “taught”! I think this helped me to develop the ability to connect words, subjects and pictures in a whole host of ways.

One of the things that I noticed that really gave me a buzz and a boost of positive energy, was when one of the class would have a moment of understanding or realisation; whenever their body language went from “confusion” to “I get it” or from a look of “being stuck” to an “aha moment”, then that had a real impact upon me and I knew that there was something magical in that moment that I wanted to do more of.

That Aha moment!

That Aha moment!

At the time, I had no idea what was going on and didn’t have the knowledge and words to describe it, however, today I would call it a “light bulb” moment.

These moments have driven my life and career ever since.

I knew that when I came back from travelling I wanted a role in learning and development.

Bringing it into the now

Fast forward almost 20 years(!) and this past experience and many thousands more, have been crystallised into:  “By the year 2025, I want to positively affect 100 000 people”.

My Purpose and the knowledge of how many people I have affected thus far, is loosely linked to goal-setting and making sure it happens, however, for me the “positively affect” part is where most of the magic lies and enables me to keep going whenever I’m going through challenging times, as well as when everything is going well.

People’s reactions have been:

  • Wow!
  • You’re a bit egotistical.
  • So what?
  • Add me to the list!
  • How do you know?

To answer that last one, my measure of how I know whether the work I am doing with clients is having an impact varies depending on their behaviours and what they say in the moment. Some are really obvious in that they will say things like:

  • “Oh I get it now! I know how I am going to use that with my team.”
  • “That was really useful, you’ve really helped me work that out”.

On other occasions it’s more about reading their body language and noticing that they have had a weight lifted off their shoulders or a frown has turned into a smile and a look of positive determination that they know what they are going to do next.

For me, having a clearly defined Purpose, gives me a real sense of direction and determination. It also aids my confidence levels (another element of Resilience).

If you’re struggling to think about and describe your Purpose, then a starting point will be to ask yourself: in your life to date, what have you done that has made you feel proud?

Have a go at writing down the achievements that have made you proud.

Have a go at writing down the achievements that have made you proud.

Best wishes

Russell