[00:00:00] In my coaching work with executives, one of the things I’ve noticed is those that are leading with purpose are the happiest, most fulfilled, they’re the ones getting the most done, the most effective ones with their people, and often this leading with purpose, wears off on their companies. Their companies become more effective as a result of them being more effective.
[00:00:23] And they’re not only leading with purpose they’re living with purpose. it’s a great place for people to getto. Now, people don’t always start with this place. And often the reason they asked me to help is that they’re kind of stuck in some other situation where they don’t feel like they’re leading with purpose.
[00:00:41] The most natural one is that they haven’t really defined purpose effectively. so they’re in the midst of searching for purpose. And this searching for purpose, leading with purpose is in some ways the natural cycle of life. When we have a goal. We can lead with purpose.
[00:00:57] When we don’t have a goal. We actually have to start searching for what the next goal is. So in a sense, this underlies goal-directed behavior is that we need goals to be able to lead with purpose. When we don’t have goals. We need to search for goals. It’s a cycle that’s pretty natural and normal. People can sometimes get stuck searching for purpose, in which case they can’t clarify the goal for some reason, or they can’t commit to the goal for some reason.
[00:01:23] But they get stuck in this searching for purpose problem. And we can talk a bit more about that in a minute. I want to talk first about a couple of other states. I find executives in. The next one is what I would call it. Grinding without progress. And this is where you see executives who are exceptionally busy.
[00:01:40] They are committed to working hard. They work hard every day, but they seem to be bouncing between different goals consistently and essentially spreading themselves thinner and thinner and working harder and harder. And I’ve characterized this as kind of grinding without progress. And that’s perhaps a bit extreme, but it is some situation where you can see yourself getting into.
[00:02:04] The other place people get stuck is what I call living in fear. And this is a situation where if you ask them what their priorities are, they can tell you what the priorities are. but for some reason, they are unwilling to commit to that priority. It could be that that priority is not compelling enough for them, but actually more often than not it’s because they have other priorities.
[00:02:24] They have other things they want to accomplish. And for whatever set of reasons they are reluctant to deprioritize those other initiatives, other goals, and essentially end up spreading themselves thin and not really being able to make the choice and make the commitment to the purpose.
[00:02:42] And in many cases, this has to do with the fact that once you deprioritize something you may not actually come back to it. It may actually just fade off into nowhere. So, if you don’t focus on it, it may get lost somehow.. These are essentially the four kind of general categories that I find people in and they kind of reference on the bottom what I would call the clarity dimension. Where you have in the bottom left, low clarity of purpose and the right high clarity of purpose. On the vertical axis, we’re really talking about commitment. From the low end on the bottom left to the high end on the top left. And it can make sense here, the grinding without progress. The people in this state, it really committed themselves to hard work, but not committed themselves to a purpose.
[00:03:29] They don’t have the clarity, the purpose, the goal they’re trying to achieve, but they are very committed to the hard work part of it.
[00:03:36] People who are living in fear, generally have clarity about what the priority is, but for whatever set of reasons, they’re afraid to like go or the things that aren’t the priority and commit to the priority.
[00:03:48] And it’s only by committing to the priority that you can lead with purpose. So they end up being stuck in this category down here in the bottom, which ironically makes their fears come true because it means that they’re not really able to make much progress on anything.
[00:04:01] They ended up missing out on the opportunity because they failed to focus on the opportunity. And they have some belief that perhaps if I have a diversified portfolio of opportunities and pursue multiple things all at once, somehow one of them might pan out, but more often than not, it’s just a recipe for all around lack of progress and, and usually lost opportunity and missed opportunity.
[00:04:26] Ideally, we spend a lot of our time in that top, right. The leading with purpose category It’s where we’re effective. It’s where the people around us feel we’re being effective. It’s where we can have the most impact. It’s where we feel the most fulfillment and meaningfulness in our lives. But we often get stuck in one of these other three categories.
[00:04:46] So once you can position yourself in one of these categories, it makes it a bit easier to figure out what you do to fix the problem. So if you’re in. Top left, for example, grinding without progress. Perhaps you need to back off the commitment to hard work or redirect that hard work into clarifying your purpose and making sure that you get that straightened out and then commit to the purpose.
[00:05:09] Not to the hard work itself. The work is just a means to the end. It’s the end that you need to have commitment to. If you get stuck in the bottom left, this is not unusual either. People can end up spending a lot of time searching for purpose, you’re searching for goals. And again, this comes back to understanding what is meaningful to you.
[00:05:30] Often we, we kind of get lost in all kinds of traps around that, but. The most effective meaning for me, at least has been when I think about meaning in the context of serving others, serving my family, serving my community, serving my clients. That’s where I’ve actually found the most meaningful and enjoyable work, which has often led me to think and do things that are goal.
[00:05:54] My goals are oriented towards helping people and trying to help them help themselves and help to bring insight to them. And understanding so that they can actually make their lives more effective.
[00:06:06] On the bottom, right, it’s the situation where you’ve kind of got too many priorities and you’re not making progress and you’re really afraid to choose one and really commit to it.
[00:06:15] Although you probably know which one is the, you know, which is the priority among them. Uh, and this is one where companies get stuck in all the time. Essentially they’ve got 10 priorities and realistically they can only work on one or two of them. Or perhaps three of them, if they’re really, really competent, really have significant amounts of resources, but ideally, for an individual choosing one, choosing your most important priority, and focusing on that and making sure that you’re actually embracing it. And that generally means that you actually have to consciously choose the things you’re not going to do, this is kind of the underlying idea that, that, uh, you know, strategy is about saying no, it’s about having clarity of purpose. It’s about knowing what you’re trying to do is saying yes to the things that are important to that, but also being able to say no to the things that aren’t important.
[00:07:09] Hopefully, this has been helpful to you and provided you with some insight into how you might lead with purpose.