Walking into a room full of 2000 important strangers for a professional event can be a defining experience. It’s a moment of total possibility, both exciting and frightening. Potential energy has a way of driving a wedge in your subconscious that is difficult to avoid. As you see, what seems like everyone, talking with another human already, embarrassment sets in. You feel everyone’s eyes on you as if they just know you have no business being there. You have a reason for attending this event but it somehow seems minuscule compared to what everyone else is doing. The resistance sets in.
This was my experience this past week. I attended a large conference with a majority of the Sr. Leaders in my organization as the one of two representative from my business the other being the President. There was a moment when I questioned everything and almost headed back to my room to try again tomorrow. Luckily I had defined what success would look like. Not only had I defined success for this expensive event, but I defined it for the year and for my life. I knew my purpose walking into that room which allowed me to make fewer decisions with more focus. I covered ground, avoided fear, and pursued my goals that evening. As it turned out, I expanded my network significantly with a number of influencers who will be huge assets for my year, and hopefully my career.
Selling the story: The art of defining success
I recently had the privilege to hear a speech from Admiral William H. McRaven. As a Navy Seal, he’s experienced in amplified leadership opportunities. His presentation began with a revision of the quote from Of War By Carl von Clausewitz stating
“Everything in leadership is easy, its just that the easy things are hard”
Go ahead and interchange the word leadership with your chosen pursuit and the statement applies. Just make a business plan and launch your idea. Easy right… This is important because as you write your story and define success, its going to seem easy, but the easy things are going to be hard.
Our deepest fear
In every human, there is a strong desire for purpose. If you do not believe this assumption, I would go back and read some more about Maslow. As a simple definition, your purpose is your ‘Why’. This is at the center of every action, every season of life, the reason you feel you are around. Your purpose will not come out of you easily. It’s been hiding inside of you and trying to be ambiguous for a long time. See, if you don’t define your purpose you can get away with a lot more mediocrity in your life and feel good. That’s exactly what you want, isn’t it… to be sub-standard. Marianne Williamson said that “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us…”
Pulling together a purpose statement will seem unimportant, and a waste of time. Know that it actually is all important and will save you 10X more time than it takes. It’s important to make sure this is high level and not tactical. Don’t try and weasel your way into something you can mark as done, as tempting as that will be. You want the statement to be just as applicable today as it will be in 2-5 years. It’s not a static statement either, it can be re-evaluated but no more than once a year. The magic behind a well thought out purpose statement is complete possibility.
Here’s the framework you should work within to define your purpose:
- Keep it to ONE sentence
- It should not be obtainable, but more of a North Star pursuit
- When you read it, it should give you goosebumps
So what’s my purpose? After an entire day of brainstorming and working it over again and again, here is where I landed.
“Pursue wisdom, Lead Strategically, and Inspire meaningful change”
I based this off my understanding of the human purpose which I defined as “Knowing and Glorifying God”. The first part is all about the Knowing, its about the never ending search and pursuit of the knowledge and wisdom of the Alpha and Omega. The second part is about Glorifying. Every pursuit that I lead or am a part of needs to be kingdom oriented. I wanted my purpose to reflect my gifts as they apply to knowing and glorifying god. After a purpose is defined, the next step is finding focus to actually pursue your purpose. First work through the action items to define your purpose than move on to work through focusing your efforts.
Here are the literal next actions I used to walk through this process. I’d be interested to know how it goes for you.
- Schedule 1/2 an hour to start your brainstorm on a day your just hanging out around the house
- Scribble down all of the things you would like to accomplish in the next 1-2 years
- Capture all of the things that you are working on currently
- Uncover and build out all of your strengths and where you provide the most value to the world
- Take all of that information and start to write out purpose statements, your goal is to write out 30-50 purpose sentences for your life. Give your self the day to continue to write them out, take breaks come back to it
- Out of the 30-50 statements you wrote down, pick 5 to focus on and refine. Talk to someone about what they think about them
- Pick a purpose statement that fits within the framework above. Know it, adopt it, become it!