Walk into the boardrooms of most companies and ask the board members what the purpose of their organisation is and you are likely to receive as many different answers as there are people in the room. Perceptions of purpose often range from the survival of the organisation in a rampantly competitive world to just making a healthy profit, from providing employment to becoming the biggest player in their industry sector, from serving the customer to creating new and innovative products. With different and often unarticulated perceptions of purpose it’s no wonder that it’s sometimes hard to build mutual understanding and why conflict can arise so easily over the precise direction of the organisation.
Purpose is essentially ‘what we are here to do’ which is obviously vital in order to ‘focus’ energy. A group of people pulling in different directions, with different perspectives of what is important, have not sat down and clarified their collective purpose. This is often because individuals have not done it for themselves because they have not fully understood the importance of living purposefully.
Vagueness around purpose is usually due to an absence of clarity around its meaning. Most often purpose is confused with visions, aims and goals. But purpose is not vision, and it is not many directions, it is one direction, with the possibility of aims and goals along the way. Purpose is not bound by timescales but transcends time. Purpose is what we are here to do and when we try to have many purposes it’s as if we are trying to do too many things at the same time. Confusion, conflict and exhaustion will eventually set in A clear sense of purpose is also one of our most powerful sources of motivation.
For many people the first thought on awakening in the morning is often, “Oh not another day… I have to get up and go to work”. Some people awaken with a different energy, more of a “YES fantastic, another day, another adventure”. One is a ‘have to’ attitude and the other is a ‘want to’ attitude. But for everyone there is usually at least one day a year which is a definite YES day, and our energy is filled with enthusiasm. It’s the day we go on holiday. For the next two weeks we have consciously chosen the direction of our life. We have made a major commitment to ourselves to go and have fun, so the focus for our energy is absolutely pin point. And of course this is the day/week we are most highly motivated. Purpose is one of our deepest motivators.
It is not so difficult to generate and use a short term purpose to motivate ourselves for a few days or even weeks. But an overarching purpose for all the days of our life is not quite so simple to create, or to see, or to detect, or to discern!
This is where a powerful VISION ‘comes into its own: