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The Purpose of Purpose: Why We Do What We Do

May 15, 2017

Do you sometimes feel you are drifting along the winds and tides of life going nowhere? 

Do you find it difficult to make decisions – pulled in different directions?

Do you think something is missing in your life, or do you know what is missing but don’t know how to ascertain it?

If so, you or your clients may be experiencing a lack of clear purpose and/or truly knowing and taking action on your purpose in your everyday life.

When we can identify our own purpose in life – no matter how simple, grand, humble, challenging it is – we begin to make decisions easily aligned with our heart, passion and reason for being on this Earth.

Our purpose is shaped by things we believe in and what we truly value, which could be simple or as complicated as things like: 

  • supporting others
  • looking after the family
  • creating beautiful pieces of art
  • singing for self and others
  • building bridges so people can move easily from one place to another
  • creating rockets to fly to the moon
  • leading a team, or a family, or a community…and so forth

Having a clear sense of purpose can help us: 

  • make priorities in our life
  • make future plans
  • build resilience and strength when things get tough knowing we have an end in mind
  • identify what is truly important in the most challenging of times
  • focus on short-term goals or get through those difficult times knowing it can link to our purpose. For example, if your purpose is to support people through challenges, when you experience your own, it can potentially give you much greater awareness, patience and empathy to get through those times as a role model.
  • When we understand our purpose, we can make decisions on the basis of whether they are in sync or not in sync with our life’s most important reason for being.The same goes for families, teams and organisations. Once clear about purpose – and everything connected with it such as vision, values, beliefs – individuals and groups can make meaningful, engaging and life giving decisions.

Simon Sinek, inspirational leadership author and speaker says:

“People do business with those who believe what they believe. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

Simon’s principle belief is an organisation’s top priority must be able to explain it’s ‘why’ no matter what size, structure and type. He says businesses must evolve to stay alive and be competitive by articulating to potential clients and employees about the purpose of their existence, and how they plan to impact the people they serve and the world around them. By doing so – organisations have a better chance of attracting the right people who are energized and motivated by the ‘why they do what they do.’

As an individual, when we understand what our own purpose is – or we have a sense of it – we can be inspired to take charge of our own lives.

Some people know what they want to be in life and what their purpose is at an early age. Some don’t know until much later in life, which works too. And our purpose can change as our life unfolds: as we learn new things about our self and the world.

The key is to identify things that matter most and an understanding of purpose helps put any events in our life – both the good and not so good – into a healthy perspective. This means we can become more focused, be in charge of our destiny and lead a purposeful life.

At Empower World, we have used the basis of Simon Sinek’s question for organisations about understanding their purpose as to why they are in business. We use it as a basis for asking ourselves as individuals why do we do what we do.

Are you stuck on what your purpose is? We recommend working with a partner or a coach and get asked the question – or ask the question of yourself – over and over until you get to the bottom or the source of what you do. You will know you are getting close when you pause, reflect, wonder, not immediately realize why you do what you do… And then go even deeper until the answer really resonates with you and feels right in your heart and mind.

Listen to Empower World’s Coaching and Leadership Podcast Episode-89 where Jeanine and Marie discuss the purpose of purpose and how it supports us to make decisions and life choices easily, especially if decisions align with our purpose. They also share one of their favourite questions to help support what is potentially our purpose for being in this world.

Episode-89 can be found here, on β€ͺiTunes or β€ͺon Stitcher.

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