As posted on Forbes 6/6/19
In my past two articles, "Regaining Passion at Work: Are You Stuck?" and "Owning Your Power, Finding Your Passion: Eight Steps to Reaching Your Full Potential," I talked about leaders feeling drained and unfulfilled. They are far away from the early passion they had at the start of their careers or business ventures. I also identified essential steps to regain balance and personal power. This journey cannot be taken without reconnection to, or discovery of, a sense of purpose for what you do. Having the foundations of passion and purpose are non-negotiable ingredients for the longevity of a fulfilling career and life.
Passion and purpose are typically found coexisting in all long-term, successful endeavors. With passion, we understand our foundation and what we are committed to. What intensifies passion is a feeling that what we do matters and is often accompanied by a general desire to contribute to the well-being of others. This is the motivation and the why of what you do. This is purpose.
As you might recall from my previous articles, I presented the case of my client, Paul. Paul began to notice what really mattered in his life during his times of exploration and discovery. Creative freedom and expression in growing his company and helping others grow and become their best selves at work supercharged him with energy. The ability to use his genius to help others excel gave purpose to what he did each day.
Your purpose can change over time as your life, career and especially your awareness and consciousness grow. World-renowned chef Massimo Bottura, who was featured on Netflix's Chef's Table, began his career with passion and purpose by creating great food and restaurants where patrons could experience it. As his personal power grew, he realized he could contribute in a larger way. Bottura eventually founded the nonprofit association Food for Soul to raise social consciousness on food waste and how reducing it helps alleviate hunger.
In his own words, “Who knew that a chef could be a voice for change?” Bottura’s passion and purpose grew from simply creating and sharing delicious food to becoming a social activist dedicated to transforming food waste and world hunger. He now teaches other chefs how to create healthy, delicious meals from ingredients that would otherwise be discarded and helps communities worldwide develop local kitchens where these meals are served. Individuals and families struggling with hunger can experience nourishing food in socially inclusive and beautiful environments.
I am fortunate to work with many leaders and teams like Bottura who are already cultivating a strong connection to or are well-engaged with their purpose. But many individuals find themselves challenged to connect to a purpose in the work that lies before them each day. It doesn’t matter if you are an entry-level administrative assistant or an established C-level executive, you should come to a place where you know you need to connect to something bigger than daily tasks or year-end returns.
The first step almost anyone can take is to find small but meaningful ways to connect your current work to your core values. This can be done simply through perspective: Reflect on your current work and how it connects to the work of others. What do you do that enables others to accomplish what they do?
Next, consider the end user and how all your cumulative efforts affect the lives of your customers or your clients’ customers. How is it making a positive contribution to society?
These two simple steps can be powerful in shifting perception and creating a sense of purpose. This is connecting your daily work to something larger at its most basic level.
Google implemented a program called the Job Crafting Exercise to support its team members' efforts to make a difference and connect with what is important to them in their work. Within six weeks, they reported being significantly happier and more effective.
There is also a growing area of research that is directing us to the unavoidable link between life purpose and physical health. As humans, we understand and accept that we have basic physical needs, but as attention to our psychological health continues to evolve and become less stigmatized, the reality of our basic psychological needs and the language to go with these needs are now becoming part of the vernacular in discussing overall health.
Alan Rozanski, professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said, “The need for meaning and purpose is No.1. It’s the deepest driver of well-being there is.” This is what I help my clients cultivate: a vantage point to see the value and the positive impact of what they do, especially when they have become disconnected from what that originally was. This often provides a sense of relief, knowing they are contributing to something larger than quarterly profits. It often becomes the inspiration for personal and professional expansion.
I believe that as the business landscape evolves, we will increasingly reach for something deeper at the core of our daily personal and professional lives. From the support staff to the executive and the organization, all will require the inclusion of passion and purpose in their personal foundation and in their organizational culture. It will become a requirement that eventually reshapes the traditional work/career paradigm.
Be a part of this culture shift, and live in your passion and your purpose. Live all in.