Brain On Fire

The stuff that inspires me and the (mixed) results
of implementing said stuff

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On Purpose

Leadership, Motivation, Values

Purpose is huge for me.

I love to feel it. I love the energy it provides.

It’s why I’ve chosen every job I’ve ever taken, sought anything, and made all my biggest life choices.

And it’s also central to my leadership style . . . focusing on a common why, on the goals of any given piece of work. And on the power of choosing, of opting into work we believe in.

And I’ve gone through times in my life where I’ve felt like my purpose was lost, or less accessible.

But here’s what I’ve learned.

I am purposeful.

Purpose does not exist outside of me. Purpose is a choice. A choice to connect what’s in front of us, the work that needs doing, to a greater goal. Or sometimes, a choice to do what’s in front of us well for the sake of the pleasure of a job well done.

Purpose is not a thing we find. It’s not a thing that finds us. It’s not magical. It’s not the result of divine intervention.

It’s inside. It comes from doing with purpose. It comes from knowing why we are doing what we’re doing and believing in that why.

When we choose purpose, it doesn’t matter what the task is, really. It matters who the task serves, or who we get to do it with.

I was watching the GOT battle for Winterfell episode, and Tormund Giantsbane (who will live eternally in my heart) delivered the line (paraphrasing), “We’re all going to die, but at least we’ll die together.” While smiling.

That’s purpose.

All of this is to say that we all have purpose. Any time we want it, it can be there. You are purposeful. That purpose might be changing the world, or prioritizing your family, or living deliberately, or whatever is important to you.

Purpose is different than desire. It’s possible to be a purposeful person who would rather work for a company whose mission aligns with one of your top five values. Your purpose does not come from where you work, or what activities make up your life. It comes from you recognizing how what you’re doing serves your aims and values.

And sometimes you can want to change what you’re doing.

But that doesn’t mean you’ve lost, or haven’t found, your purpose.

When we think that we’ve lost our purpose, we don’t connect to what’s right in front of us.

I’ve spoken to so many people who describe once having purpose, and of having lost it when their job description changed, or they moved to a new city. Or, often I hear stories of people feeling a sense of purpose, a connection to their work, when they were “young and idealistic and didn’t know any better.” Meaning, they didn’t know about the politics, flaws, and challenges behind the scenes.

Sometimes we learn about these things — about the man behind the curtain — and stop giving ourselves permission to hang our hat on something.

I thought this company was great, but it turns out it’s flawed, too.

Can both be true?

Is every great company with a great mission flawed in some way?

Yes.

And are individuals who choose to believe in the potential of the mission and choose to work to support it best poised to help it reach its potential?

Also yes.

You are purposeful. Purpose does not exist outside of you.

You are your purpose.

Go get it.


Are you in? If you’re ready to connect to your purpose, schedule a free coaching call with me. 30 minutes. A whole new perspective.