Purpose for the New Year.

Purpose for the New Year.

Most people assume that a purpose is the same as a goal. They work towards it as though it’s a specific destination to arrive at.

I now understand this is the wrong way to find your life purpose.

Instead, your life purpose comes from your values. It is something that has always existed inside you and just needs to be discovered.

When you think of life purpose in this way, it’s easier to define.

To help you define yours, Justin Brown put together 8 thought-provoking (yet a little weird) questions that will help you to discover your own life purpose. I encourage you to jot down your answers to each question in notes as you move through them.

8. What were you passionate about as a child?

The  games we played as children are often a gateway to our potential to excel at something when we grow up.

Think about your Barbie dolls. Did you dress them, or did you make clothes for them?

Think about your trucks and cars. Did you race around with them, or did you construct a town, complete with streets, houses, trees, shops, and garages?

What did you play for hours? Can you still relate to that? If you can, how can you incorporate that into your adult life now?

Were you advised that you should forget your childhood dreams, and do something practical with your life instead? Did you go on to study something other than what you really wanted to in university?

Do you wish that you went a different route instead?

Hidden in our childhood passions, are our gifts, the things we are naturally good at. Think back and see what treasure you can find there, which can hold the key to your life purpose.

PRO TIP: While thinking about what you were passionate about as a child, try and jot down some of your favorite memories. Write down what happened, and also importantly how you were feeling in these moments. This will help you connect with your “inner child”. Over time, your inner child will start to communicate with you about your overriding purpose in life.

7. If you didn’t have a job, how would you choose to fill your hours?

Here is something to ponder. If you didn’t have to work and you weren’t allowed to stay at home and do nothing, how would you choose to fill your time? Where would you go and what would you do?

Let’s say you use some of the time to relax and unwind and some to exercise, what would you do with the rest of your time? Would you spend the day doing something active like exploring the town, would you go to a museum or visit art galleries? Would you read, volunteer somewhere, take a class? Where would you volunteer? Which class would you take?

When money isn’t an issue, and you can devote yourself solely to your passion, what would this passion be?

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE: I did this exercise a few weeks ago, and realized I wanted to read more educational books. The kinds of books that help me learn more about myself and the world around me. It helped me to see that one of my values is learning. I love nothing more than experiencing an “aha moment”, a surge of inspiration when I connect the dots. My purpose is to help others experience this.

6. What makes you forget about the world around you?

Is there something that you really, really love to do? Something that makes you lose track of time?

If you have ever been completely absorbed in an activity you will understand the state of “flow” where you lose your sense of time and are completely caught up in what you are doing.

We have all experienced it. For some of us it’s the process of creating something, for others it’s organizing an event, for others, it’s taking care of other people’s needs.

When you’re completely caught up in the “flow”, you forget about time, food and drink or where you are. Being in the flow, you are intensely focused and concentrated, and there is a sense of ecstasy. There is a sense of inner clarity, and you have complete confidence in your skills. All your worries are gone, and you are completely in the present moment. Yet you can lose track of time. This sense of flow is a source of joy and a reward in itself.

When last did you experience this?

GOING DEEPER: The concept of flow is very powerful. When you know what it is, you’ll start to identify areas of your life when you experience it. This will help you uncover your purpose.

5. What issues do you hold close to your heart?

Is there a cause that you feel strongly about? What topics do you like to read about? What topics on the news do you follow, what issues do you keep returning to? What kind of websites attract you? What topics do you discuss with family and friends? Are there any that you get worked up about, that you want to do something about?

When you are passionate about something, then the work you do for this cause will be meaningful and rewarding.

PRO TIP: A useful way to think about this is identifying things that happen in your life that make you want to take a stand. It usually means some kind of boundary has been crossed. Maybe someone is treating a close friend of yours badly. Or perhaps there’s a local political issue making you want to get active. Whatever it is, we set boundaries of what’s acceptable around our values.

4. Who do you spend time with and what do you talk about?

Most of us spend time with people who share our interests and outlook on life. There might be a clue in there for you. Are you spending most of your free time with cycling buddies or just drinking buddies? Do you talk mostly about your shared passion for cycling and improving the sport or do you just chew the breeze with some friends at the local bar?

Do the people you spend your free time with help to give you an indication of your real passion?

What do you talk about? Do you find people ask you for advice? Why would people ask you for advice? Do you have any specialized knowledge? How did you come by that knowledge? Is it something that you feel is what you were meant to do?

The answers to those questions could be very illuminating.

ANOTHER WAY OF THINKING ABOUT IT: Throughout history, humans form into tribes, even in modern-day societies. What is it that connects a tribe? It’s usually a shared focus, purpose or passion. Herein lies a secret to discovering your purpose. Who are the people you’re naturally gravitating to? What are the tribes you want to be a part of? You may start to see the purpose you already have in life.

3. What is on your bucket list?

What do you want to accomplish before you die? This is another exercise that could be very soul searching. Creating a bucket list crystallizes your thinking on what you desire most in life, what you really would not like to miss out on. There is passion there. Why wait?

MY BUCKET LIST: To give you an example that hopefully gets you thinking, I want to learn to fly a plane. I love getting an aerial view of the land around me and feeling in control of my own destiny. This helps me to see that my guiding purpose is to create a system that results in independence for me.

2. If you had a dream, could you make it happen?

Give this serious thought. Even if you have a dream and never attempted it for whatever reason, it’s still a valuable window into what you regard as somehow achievable, otherwise, it would never have entered your mind.

Think of the many people who made seemingly impossible dreams become reality and take heart from that.

Who do you look up to? What is it about them that inspires you?

You can make steps towards following your life purpose right now.

Ask yourself, what is really stopping you?

There’s help everywhere. You don’t have to know everything yourself and you don’t have to do everything yourself. You can get help to make your dream come true.

Think it through. That dream and your life’s purpose is probably one and the same thing.

HERE ARE THREE EXAMPLES: J.K. Rowling was recently divorced, on government aid, and raising a baby on her own when she wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. She was initially rejected when she first sent out her manuscript to publishers.

Ludwig van Beethoven did not allow his bad hearing and later on, complete deafness, to stop him from composing some of the most beautiful and influential music in the world.

Helen Keller was deaf and blind from the age of 19 months. Yet she was able to be educated and became an author and educator herself.

1. What are the feelings you desire right now?

This is the final and most powerful question that I believe will help you to finally discover your life purpose.

Think of the feelings that you desire right now. Is there anything you’re frustrated by for not feeling?

Exploring your own feelings opens you up to your emotions. Our emotions are often more powerful than our minds and provide us with a lot of guidance about what we really want in life.

Here’s the next step:

Once you figure out the emotions you want to experience, start to identify the areas of your life where you’re helping others to have this experience. You’re probably already doing this in little ways.

What are the feelings you desire right now, and how are they guiding you in your life purpose?

BONUS EXERCISE: I learned about the importance of finding my purpose for life in my emotions from the shaman Rudá Iandé. We were walking together on the streets of São Paulo and I told him I was finding it challenging to discover my purpose. He shared with me the importance of finding your purpose in your emotions. I immediately pulled out my video camera so I could capture it and share it with others because I saw how valuable and counter-intuitive it is. Watch the video below. It will help you discover your purpose.

A New Year, a New Normal, a New Possible, a New You.

Re-storying my career.

Re-storying my career.

By Rebecca Muller, Thrive Global

Everyone has an evolving career story: the narrative we tell ourselves, and the people around us, about where we stand on our professional paths, and how we got there. But when you’ve been at your job for a long time, it’s easy to get comfortable in your current narrative — and over time, that comfort can spiral into a routine that feels repetitive and un-motivating.

Getting stuck in one chapter of your story can be stressful, and if you sense that you’re ready for something new, it may be time to “re-story” — a term that psychologists now use to refer to making a pivot when you’ve exhausted your current narrative. Starting that rewrite can be a daunting step. “Making a big career change can be scary,” Alan Benson, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, tells Thrive.

Making a change depends on your individual story, but if you become too complacent, you miss out on the benefits that can come from beginning a new chapter. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Your story: You’ve been at the same job for many years, and you’re ready for something new.

How to re-story: Allow yourself to accept change. 

With the rise of online networking, remote work, and side hustles, the workforce looks vastly different than it once did — and when it comes to starting over, that can be a great thing. “Fifty years ago, it was common to graduate from school, land a job at a big company, and work there your entire career,” Benson notes. “Today, the Census Bureau estimates that people have ten jobs by the time they’re forty.” Shifting from job to job has become normal, he explains, so it’s important to let go of preconceived notions you may have about a traditional career path. There’s no shame in changing jobs, especially if it might ease your stress and help you feel sustained meaning in your work. 

Your story: You want to pivot to a new field, but it’s not what you went to school for.

How to re-story: Use the evergreen skills you learned to propel you forward. 

You may not be an expert in the industry you’re interested in, but Benson notes that your existing knowledge and your toolkit of career experience may well be enough to take the leap. Having a diversified background might actually give you a leg up a new job, he points out. And even if you do ultimately need more education to make the switch, it’s worth confirming that first, rather than letting it hold you back from trying at all. 

Your story: You’ve hit your goal, and now you’re struggling to stay motivated.

How to re-story: Take on microsteps to help you make small changes in your workflow. 

Sometimes, achieving a goal we’ve worked hard to get to can end up making us lose motivation, because we let go of the positive changes we initially made to reach that goal in the first place. In fact, research tells us that if we see our goals as a destination we’ve already arrived at, we’re unlikely to stay motivated to keep going afterward. If you’ve reached your goal, consider taking on small microsteps to help you make lasting changes. Thinking of your goal attainment as a journey  instead of a destination can help you stay motivated long after you hit your target.

Your story: You’re feeling fatigued by your job, but you have no clue what your next step would look like.

How to re-story: Reach out to your support system.

You know you’re itching for a new job, but you’re scared and hesitant about what that new opportunity looks like. When you’re struggling to take that next step, Benson suggests reaching out to a trusted mentor or a loved one for a supportive hand. Whether you’re looking for concrete advice about your next move, or you just need a listening ear, talking through your vision can help with your decision-making, and allow you to gain a clearer sense of direction.

About True Calling.

About True Calling.

By Emily Rose Barr

I recently read Parker Palmer’s book, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, a beautiful meditation on trusting our experience to guide the way to our true calling.

Rather than telling your life what you intend to do with it, Palmer suggests, you must “listen for what it intends to do with you.” Reflecting on his own encounters with self-doubt, deep depression, jubilant triumphs, and unrelenting inner inquiry, he paints a portrait of a personal journey that is far from easy but repeatedly rewarding.

Vocation is defined as, “a type of work that you feel you are suited to doing and to which you give much of your time and energy.” For many, this eschews our understanding of a true calling: something that we not only feel suited to do, but something that is worthy of our talents, values, and a greater sense of purpose.

While these two terms are often used interchangeably, one’s vocation may or may not be aligned with one’s calling. In fact, it’s not uncommon to arrive at a vocation only to realize after years of selfless devotion that we’re not on the path we desire: we discover that the work we’re doing is no longer fulfilling and depletes us of our energy rather than rejuvenates our spirit. Moreover, we frequently associate vocation with a competitive salary, robust benefits, and well-earned promotions, yet the definition makes no mention of these monetary domains.

So how do we reconcile our need for financial independence, or at the very least stability, with our desire to nurture our true calling?

Somewhere along our life’s journey, we were likely told to go after our passions with all our heart; that if we do what we love, we’ll never work a day in our lives; that by simply applying ourselves, we’ll go far. So we studied hard, worked odd jobs to make ends meet, got advanced degrees, and maxed out our résumés.

During this time, our passions might have shifted, or our dreams might have been deferred. We might have told ourselves that doing what we love would come after we’d proven ourselves, worked our way up the corporate ladder, achieved a certain net worth.

It’s so easy for our vision of vocation to become muddled by societal expectations and the harsh demands we place on ourselves. Suddenly, doing what we love each day is no longer enough. We must also make a name for ourselves, rise above the competition, gain an improbably high following, have the latest and greatest technology, and meet ever-increasing productivity standards until we no longer remember why we were called here in the first place.

Our vocation needn’t also be the greatest source of stress in our lives. If it is, it’s likely not our true calling. Work is undeniably stressful. It’s exhausting, time-consuming, frustrating, demanding, and at times, disappointing. But it should also be a means of frequent joy, hope, welcome challenge, vitality, self-growth, and uncompromising abundance.

If you’re fortunate to make your livelihood by answering to your calling each day, I am continually inspired by your dedication to your craft and your courage to meet the challenges that were inevitably a part of your path.

If you feel like your life’s work is at a crossroads with your values, your passions, your deepest motivations, and your undeniable gifts, I admire you also: for your bravery in recognizing that you are worthy of more and your commitment to devote yourself to work that is not always easy, sustainable, or enjoyable.

I encourage you to keep exploring how you can tap into your higher self through your work, be it a full-time job, a part-time job, a weekend gig, or a yet unborn idea. We are told frequently and loudly that our jobs are not the be-all and end-all; that as long as we have a roof over our heads and food on our table, we should be happy. While these are certainly blessings for which we should be grateful, clinging too tightly to this persistent narrative can put us on the fast-track to selling ourselves short.

Wherever you are in your vocational pursuits — just entering the workforce, considering a career change, returning to full-time work after a sabbatical, preparing for retirement, balancing three part-time jobs, transitioning to a new role, celebrating a recent promotion — the following is offered as a guide to help you navigate the often-complex, always worthwhile course of discovering or rediscovering your authentic livelihood.

Know who you are.

Understanding the type of work to which we’re not only drawn but that aligns with the mark we want to leave on the world can only be achieved by intimately understanding ourselves..

Knowing who we are (and who we’re not) is critical to knowing what we want to do and how we want to do it. We also have to be prepared to come to terms with some things we may not like about ourselves. The journey into self is incomplete if we fail to take inventory of both our light and dark sides.

Drown out the noise.

There’s a lot of superfluous noise that infiltrates our perceptions of success. The more you try to squeeze yourself into a vocation that amplifies the voice of society and ignores your own, the more you’ll struggle to find balance, engagement, and fulfillment.

Get creative, don’t compromise.

Perhaps your dream of running a wildlife sanctuary isn’t feasible, or your freelance photography gig won’t pay the bills. This doesn’t mean that you should dismiss these pursuits. Life has a funny way of bringing us back to our calling despite our attempts to ignore it.

No one said that identifying what makes your heart sing was easy and seeing it through can be even harder. But we’re often presented with opportunities to incorporate our passions in other ways, ones that may not appear how we desire on the surface. Be open to letting your interests take on a different shape than you originally intended, at least temporarily. You might be surprised at what you discover.

Pay attention. How many times have you heard someone talk about there being “signs” along their vocational path?

These messages may seem small, but they have a monumental point to get across. When you experience them, listen to them; hear them out; talk about them with someone who knows you well and ask for their insights. These signs aren’t random but filled with purpose and potential. Don’t wait to act on them.

Learn to trust yourself like you do your closest confidante. Know that you have your best interests at heart and that you will make every attempt to see your dreams come to fruition. If it feels scary, keep going. If you’re uncertain, dig deeper. If you want to give up, give it one more day.

You are wholly, unapologetically worth every ounce of your effort. There are countless people who will benefit from your bringing your true vocation to life. Don’t abandon that gift.

Five Sustainable Success Levers

Five Sustainable Success Levers

Nov 20, 2017: Weekly Curated Thought-Sharing on Digital Disruption, Applied Neuroscience and Other Interesting Related Matters.

By Kevin Cashman

Curated by Helena M. Herrero Lamuedra

Every leader faces a daunting aspiration: Generate success now and then continuously accelerate itIt is hard enough to be successful and even more challenging to keep it going in today’s dynamic, change-rich world. As tough as our mandate is, I would suggest a sustainable simple success formula: purpose generates success, performance sustains it and ethics insures the first two endure.

Purpose is the creative force that elevates leaders and teams to move from short-term success to long-term significance. It engages and energizes workforces, customers, vendors, distributors, communities and stakeholders around a common mission, something bigger than products and larger than profit. It is the foundational meaning that unleashes latent energy and motivation as it generates enduring value. Purpose answers the essential question: Why is it so important that we exist? Ethics answers the enduring question: How are we in continuous service to our constituencies?    

As leaders, we have a responsibility to address this significant question,Why is it so important that we exist?” With this question, we courageously face who we are and how we are in the world. As we reflect on it and the battle that rages for the soul of capitalism, we also may want to consider: How do we view capitalism and the role of business? Will we define business solely in terms of transactional financial levers, designed to accumulate capital, or will we apply our vision to shape business as a more universal lever that serves a higher, more sustainable purpose? Will the top 2% serve the 98%, or will the top 2% dominate, control and be served by the 98%?

Unilever takes the universal levers of purpose and ethics and tries to serve the 100%. Their core values are much more than aspirational concepts. Their purpose statement is more than a slogan. Yes, they struggle to live it at times, but the constant struggle to serve is a worthy value-creating goal. As purpose-driven leaders remind themselves over and over again: purpose and ethics are not perfection, but the pursuit of service-fueled value.

Dedicating themselves to the core values of “integrity, responsibility, respect and pioneering,” Unilever’s core purpose keeps them focused on succeeding “with the highest standards of corporate behavior towards everyone we work with, the communities we touch, and the environment on which we have an impact.” There is no company-centric charge to be “#1 based on financial metrics” or “winning is all that matters” in their purpose statement. Their considerable success is driven by an ethical conviction to serve.

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, expressed his genuine belief and conviction in purpose-driven leadership and the power of service a Huffington Post article, “Doing Well by Doing Good”: “The power of purpose, passion, and positive attitude drive great long-term business results. Above all, the moment you realize that it’s not about yourself but about working for the common good, or helping others, that’s when you unlock the true leader in yourself.” When purpose becomes personal, it becomes real, powerful and ethical.

Recently, Unilever recruited Marijn Dekkers, another purpose-driven leader, to be Chairman of its board. Like Polman has done through his leadership, Marijn created significant enduring value during his tenure as CEO of Bayer. His leadership brought vitality and relevance to Bayer’s purpose; to their culture, their leadership growth, and to their market value. Commenting on this purpose-driven value creation, Marijn shared with me recently, “It is relatively easy to pull financial levers to generate short-term profit. Many people can do that. What is challenging, and the real skill of leadership, is to inspire sustainable growth by relentlessly serving employees, customers, vendors, communities, and the planet. When purpose becomes the generator of profit, then long-term success, service and sustainability have a chance to be realized.”

Expanding on the value-generating power of ethics and purpose, Marijn shared five levers for sustainable leadership success:

• EBITDA Never Inspires: “After a few years, no one remembers the number, but everyone remembers the contributions the products and services have made to the lives of people. Spreadsheets rarely inspire; stories of service move us in a memorable manner.”

• Take the Extra Steps: “Do the right thing before you are forced to do so. Purpose is real, and ethics is operating, when companies go beyond what they need to do for employees, vendors, customers and communities. Even 2% more effort on purpose creates multiple returns for everyone involved. It takes so little but returns so much. Being a good citizen on the things we do not make money on, can actually create more lasting value in the long run.”

• Build Authentic Reputation: “Reputations are not merely a public relations exercise. Reputations are built through ensuring that we are customer and enterprise-serving and not self-serving. Corporations are too often seen as self-serving, so attending to real-service is the counter-balance to negative reputations. The equity of our brand is built through living our purpose in very tangible ways.”

• Do the Right Thing When No One is Looking: Marijn shared a recent story of cycling along a river and wanting to dispose of his stale chewing gum. He realized that there were at least three options: 1) Throw it on the grass and mindlessly riding on; 2) Wait for a trash bin to come along and throw it at the bin but very likely someone would need to clean up the mess later;  3) Stop to find a leaf, roll up the gum in the leaf and dispose of the gum properly. “It took a small sacrifice to find the leaf and carefully dispose of it. But it was clearly the right thing to do.” Real ethics show up in both small and big acts of service.

• Remember Others: “Ethics is remembering others. Lack of ethics and purpose is placing self over service. As a CEO this is tough, since there are so many “others” to consider. But making the attempt to serve as many “others” as possible is the ethically fueled purpose of leadership.”

Purposeful, ethical leadership is a conscious act of self-examination to insure that our behaviors are really serving people – especially when no one is watching.

What steps can you take today to inspire purpose and remember ethics?