Purpose is Overrated

There is a lot of focus on purpose in our culture. Not having one can make people feel less than adequate especially when everyone else seem to have one.  If you don't know your purpose don't worry. You already have one. It is the same purpose everyone else has - to stay alive. That is why we are not extinct as a species. Because it is the human condition to be very good at staying safe so as to live.

Centuries ago humans refined how to exist in a tribe and to know their roles in the tribe because if they didn't they may become ostracized by the tribe where they could die at the hands of another tribe or the elements. That fight-flight-or-flee mentality kept people safe and alive. Today that guarded mentality doesn't serve us as well, especially if it shows up as a low risk tolerance in a leadership setting. 

On a job interview often candidates will answer the question, "What is your purpose?" by saying, “I just want to make a difference.” This doesn’t tell the hiring manager much because it is the human condition to belong and find your value in your tribe. You have to go deeper. In what situations are you most energized? 

Think about a time when you were happy and at your best. What precisely were you doing? Who was there? What was your role? We’re you coordinating, strategizing, making people feel you had their back, listening, speaking, writing? And what did you learn about yourself in that process? 

I know that I am at my best when I have creative freedom, strategizing, listening and moving people to challenge their assumptions.

Your purpose is not to achieve. That is the end product of good work. Your purpose is to stay alive and now to thrive where your heart is fulfilled. You may already be there. You won't know that if you don't define it.

I ask leaders, "What is leadership to you?" If you don't take the time to define this, you can't deliver it either. 

For me management is knowing what needs to be done. Leadership is listening to understand the unwritten rules of the culture and providing an environment for innovation to challenge the norm.

Wishing you a clearing to what pulls you today.

If you fear age bias or sense that you are too old to compete in the workplace here is the link to a free plan to help differentiate your value proposition. You are NOT too old. You just need to position your value proposition. Learn how with this tool I give my clients. 10 Tips When You Fear Age Bias.  

If you are struggling with uncertainty and feel exhausted and ineffective watch my FREE Training on Three Ways to Move to the Next Level In Your Career Right Now to 1) identify the right role for you, 2) position your transferable skills and 3) create a career portfolio that sells you before you even get an interview. If you don't know where you will be at the end of the year, you are already there.  

Your coach,

Mary Lee 

P.S. Feel free to forward this email to someone who could benefit from it. We are all walking down the same road in life looking for a hand to hold. Sometimes we must be the hand that reaches out. www.MaryLeeGannon.com  

Mary Lee Gannon, ACC, CAE is an executive coach and 19-year corporate CEO who helps leaders have more effective careers, happier lives and better relationships. Request a free consultation call.


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