As someone who has already achieved a lot in your life, you will have scaled mountains of knowledge and excelled in so many different ways in your respective field.
But sometimes amidst the triumphs and that outward success, you are left yearning for something more. Usually, it is for a deeper sense of meaning or purpose in what you do.
Why is it that purpose is something that so many of us hanker after?
Well, when you do build purpose into your work, it is then that you notice how you truly begin to unlock that next level of excellence in your working life.
When you are living and working more into your purpose, it creates a state where you feel great about what you are doing. It feels fantastic to use your innate skills and natural strengths in a way that makes a meaningful impact.
In this article, I will take you through how you can begin to align your expertise with your unique strengths and craft a deeper level of fulfillment in your work.
When we think about purpose and how to build it into our work, there are a few basics that we need to begin to consider. The first is an obvious question:
What exactly is purpose?
I spent some time researching this, and I found the way a psychologist may define it:
“The intention to accomplish something that on the one hand is personally meaningful and at the same time leads to the productive engagement with some aspect of the world or someone beyond self.”
I describe purpose as: Being able to use your innate skills and natural strengths and gifts in the greatest contribution to the world around you. When you do this, it is then that you experience that deeper sense of fulfillment and meaning in what you do.
Using your natural strengths and gifts in the greatest contribution to others really is the ultimate pinnacle of your working life, and of course can be used to great effect in your personal life.
Another area of purpose I feel strongly about, is purpose is not something that you need to find. It is something that you need to learn to build into your life, whether it is your professional or personal life.
Purpose is not found. It is built.
Finding your purpose is not some sort of mystery, mission, or quest to which only a lucky few will find the hidden treasure.
You don't need to go on an impossible quest. Purpose is something that you already have within you.
The secret is to start by beginning to understand and uncover what your own unique natural strengths and gifts are.
Of course, doing the work isn’t easy, but you do not need to start banging your head against a brick wall to find your purpose. You can start right now with where you are and what you have.
With the right support, tips, and guidance you can begin to get clarity about your own unique gifts, strengths, and innate talents. Because when you understand and know what your unique strengths are, and you put yourself in that place in your work, that is when the magic happens.
When you are operating from the place that you are making the most of these natural strengths, it is then that you'll begin to have your greatest impact.
And when you have this amazing impact on the world and the people around you, it is then that you are living into your purpose.
When you use your skills and gifts in their maximum contribution, it not only benefits you, but it benefits those around you and the world around you.
So how do you begin to do this?
How do you begin to build purpose into your life?
The 3 Is to purpose:
These are the three steppingstones to purpose:
- Internal reflection;
- Integration; and
These three building blocks will bring together your expertise and your innate strengths to create a more fulfilled and purpose-led approach to your work.
1) Internal reflection:
This first step is the foundation. You need to create awareness and take time to pause. It is during internal reflection that you will begin to uncover what your innate strengths and natural gifts are. One of the first keys is to reflect on what it is that truly energizes and engages you in your work.
I love the story of Oprah Winfrey:
She had set her sights on being like her hero, Barbara Walters. She wished for nothing more than to be a world class broadcaster. Oprah did really well. She started in the industry young. She excelled and she moved quickly through the ranks, but then she hit a glass ceiling. She was moved to a daytime talk show, and she felt she had been demoted. But when she started as the host on the talk show, she noticed something. She felt different. Everything that she had been criticized for in her role as a TV broadcaster were the things that made her amazing in this new role. She noticed she felt energized and she was truly engaged in her work.
Instead of ignoring those new feelings and remaining focused on becoming like the (now late) Barbara Walters, she paused, and she reflected. She acknowledged this new feeling. She recognized she was in the right place for her. She was using her natural gifts in a way that contributed to others around her.
When Oprah paused and did that internal self-reflection, she knew that this was the path that she should continue to follow, and the rest is history. As I say in my coaching program, “When you find your flow, your success will grow.”
Once the internal reflection has begun to highlight more of your innate strengths and gifts, it is then time to move onto integration.
This means that you need to begin to figure out ways to integrate what you have learned about your natural skills and gifts into the work that you do.
You need to do this in a way that not only makes the most of your strengths, but uplifts those around us, those we work for and those we work with. And in turn, this uplifts ourselves.
Integration is about becoming architects of our work, reshaping our roles to reflect our purpose and infuse them with our own unique gifts and brilliance.
I once had a client who was an engineer, and he was becoming increasingly frustrated and a little bored with his work. Over time, he had developed somewhat of an interest and sparked a passion in, sustainability. Rather than packing engineering in, he looked for ways to bring sustainability into his work.
It began quite simply with educating his peers, his colleagues, and his clients about sustainability until he became a real driving force in sustainable engineering. Within that environment, he had merged his expertise with the ‘thing’ that had energized and engaged him.
And how did that make him feel? You guessed it. He developed a real sense of purpose and meaning in what he did.
Finally, we reach the third steppingstone to purpose: Impact.
3) Impact: connecting purpose and impact:
You take your learnings from your internal reflection and integration of purpose in your work and take it to the next level. You start to make a significant impact.
Making an impact is what most of us really want to do in our work.
As someone who is already successful in your career and highly educated, you understand the value of making impact on those around you, on impacting people positively through your work.
Having impact is when you transcend your personal success and you channel your expertise, your natural gifts and strengths into creating positive change on a larger scale. This can start with just one person. It is the transformative ripple on effect that emanates from the intersection of your individual achievements and your purpose.
I’ll share a personal example: I was once at a rock-bottom in my life, and somebody in a very senior leadership position made a decision that had a massive impact on me.
This person brought together their own expertise, their skills, and their position of influence along with their purpose, which was the desire to support the health, wellbeing and mental health of the staff of the organization.
This leader made the unprecedented decision to give me the sort of support that I needed on my road to recovery and getting my health back on track.
Now you may say from the outside that that is just a general ‘feel-good’ story. But if you stop to analyze it in more detail and consider the impact that was made, it is truly profound.
The support that was given to me allowed me to receive the treatment that I needed to begin to recover my health. And in doing so, you can imagine the sort of impact this would've had on the people who cared about me most, my immediate family and my friends. And as it impacted those people, you can begin to imagine how it would impact the people, the next level out from them, those people's family, extended family, and friends. Beyond those that were close to me, you can begin to picture the impact that this has had on me in my business.
If that support had not been offered to me, I would not be in the position that I am today, able to help guide and support others. And for every one person that I help, I'm sure you can see how this may in some way impact those close to them, their own families, the people that they work with, the people that they work for, and the people that they ultimately are able to help in the future.
One considered but simple action taken years ago by a leader who maximized his position of influence, his expertise and his natural gifts with his purpose and genuine willingness to support the staff of his organization impacted that one person. Me. And since then it has probably impacted hundreds, if not thousands of people.
Knowing what a remarkable impact you can have on people close to you as well as the ripple on effect from there, you can see how important it is to stop and pause and begin that internal reflection to figure out what your unique, natural, and innate skills and strengths are.
You can see how important it is for you to then integrate that into your work so that you can begin to have the sort of impact and the work life of your dreams.
Just remember that the path to purpose is an ongoing process. And don’t forget it is not some mystery mythical quest to which only a few people will find the hidden treasure. You already have what you need within you.