I recently went to the NTU business leaders seminar to see Sarah Walker-Smith, COO for Browne Jacobson, talk about finding your purpose or more specifically – “On purpose … Developing leadership skills and achieving more by reconnecting with your purpose”.
I think making sure you have a “personal” purpose is key to making sure that you can focus on the right things, say no to the wrong things, and understand success and failure in the correct context.
So here are the key things I took from Sarah’s talk. You can listen to Sarah’s talk on Sound Cloud.
You can’t fake purpose
At her talk Sarah opened with:
“You can’t fake purpose. It has to be genuine to you.”
So that in itself is a huge learning I’ve had – being clear on why you are doing something makes it obvious what is relevant to you and what isn’t (or what you should be saying no to).
Queue Sarah’s next soundbite (I don’t do Pilates so can’t comment on that!):
“Finding purpose is like Pilates for the soul, your core becomes so strong everything else falls into place.”
For me, I am clear on what my purpose is – I actually have been for some time, but being able to articulate and make it relevant to other areas if my life has taken some time.
It’s great having a purpose – but actually, we all have a lot going on in our day to day lives – family, friends, work, hobbies etc.
Being clear on your purpose actually means it fits in a number of these areas and also understanding where it fits in these areas helps you prioritise.
These things don’t come overnight – if you’re sat there reading this and thinking you have no idea about your personal purpose right now. That’s ok though as Sarah went on to say:
“You grow and evolve, so will your purpose”
The next thing I learnt is that not only can you let the wrong things distract you (by saying yes to things that perhaps don’t fit with your purpose) but also by procrastinating on waiting for the perfect time to get started – so for me this was wanting to perfectly craft my purpose – which actually just left me doing very little. As Sarah said in her talk:
“If you wait for the perfect time you will wait forever.”
Linked with this is that “fear of failure”, getting things wrong – I’ve talked about this before as well, how often do we put things off for these reasons. We have to redefine failure, be realistic AND be ambitious. Sarah summed it up well for me:
“Done is better than perfect, you need to drop the perfection complex.”
Connect with others to bring it to life
Finally, being clear on purpose is one thing – connecting with other people who have a similar vision and purpose is key and importantly asking for help and offering help, as Sarah went on to say:
“If you ask for help and offer help back people will be there for you. People don’t ask for help enough.”
Of course even the great Steve Jobs thought this:
“Great things are never done by one person” – Steve Jobs
Sarah actually summed this up really well with a quote about her own purpose:
“I’m not at all remarkable but did something somewhat remarkable and all because I found my purpose and then I found a way to believe I could and found the right people to help me.”