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For the Greater Good

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For the Greater Good

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So, where do you start when trying to find your meaning of life – your purpose, the thing which gives you direction? Your very own personal life Compass.

What is the meaning of life? Your life?

“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather… recognise man is questioned by life; we can only answer to life by answering for our own life”

Viktor Frankl

 

One of the greatest questions asked by humans is “What is the meaning of life, what is the meaning of my life?” For individuals, we seek clarity on why we are here, often dogged by a sense that we were put on the planet for purpose, but that we just don’t know what that purpose is.

In families, teams, organisations or communities, meaning is about finding the magic sauce, creating a shared sense of the future, clarity around something we are all contributing to, and a clear sense of how we can work together without undermining our autonomy.

 

Finding personal purpose

It all starts with aspiration. Dreaming of an ‘ideal’ life and then painting a vision of success in 6 months, 1 year or 5 years from now. Dream ‘big’ as if nobody is watching, listening or judging your thoughts. Who would you be and what would you be doing if there were no obstacles or nay sayers?

Capture your thoughts and write them down by asking yourself some simple questions:

  • What do I passionately love doing? What do I love doing passionately?
  • What really excites me in life? What do I find boring, tiresome, and tedious?
  • What have I done in my life that has given me a sense of achievement? What feels like time wasted?
  • What do I love about being with people? What do I love about being on my own?
  • What in my day-to-day environment gives me energy? What robs me of energy?
  • What are my preferences for gathering information? Do I prefer the detail, paying attention to what I learn through my senses or do I prefer concepts, or ideas?
  • What are my preferences for making decisions? Do I prefer to think things through, work them out logically, or to make decisions based on what’s important to me and others?
  • If I could wave a magic wand and do or be anything in the world, what would I do or be?
  • What do I think is possible in my life? What do I think is impossible?
  • What in my working life do I absolutely love to do? What do I hate doing?
  • What in my working life would I love to be doing five years from now? Where would I hate to be?

 

While by no means definitive, questions like these help you sort what really counts and value in your life. Your answers act as light beacons in the night. Don’t discount them.

Better to dream a thousand dreams, than none at all, said the mother of modern family therapy, the famous Virginia Satir.

 

Dismantling Roadblocks

The first step to finding purpose is asking the hard questions. The second, answering them honestly. One of the biggest questions we can ask ourselves is “could I be my own roadblock?”. Often the answer is a simple yes.

Once we know this and find the courage to dive deeper, how do we dismantle our internal roadblocks and find a greater sense of purpose? By equipping ourselves with the right tools and skills to find and lead from a place of purpose.

Using tools such as the Five Why’s – a simple purpose elicitation exercise is a great place to start. At Dattner Group we often explore the truth about purpose – a model developed from the work of Roger van Oech – which helps people find a purpose in life that helps them have fun again, rather than feeling anxious about not getting their purpose ‘right’.

 

Developing that Purpose

Regardless of what your personal purpose is, developing purpose whether in an organisation, with your family, a team or in your community, is all about inspiring others to be part of an idea that can be shaped by the many, not the few. While traditionally the domain of leadership, developing purpose can emerge at all levels and often has significant outcomes for the collective.

  • It’s easier to say no when you know what doesn’t fit with your aims and what does
  • It’s inspiring – we can be part of something where the parts are bigger than the whole
  • Trust is manifest – we are on the same journey, with the same destination in mind; when something doesn’t work, chances are we have to pool our thinking to help
  • When you have trust, people aren’t afraid of the difficult conversations; we all want the same thing and know how to resolve roadblocks again and again
  • Purpose builds commitment, and commitment is the backbone of accountability

 

Articulating purpose for yourself and others is an activity worth spending time on. It reaps results and rewards, both personally and professionally.

As Dolly Parton so aptly said:

“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are an excellent leader.”

 

Michelle Crouch
Director – Consultant & Coach

 

To find out how we can help you, please contact us at Dattner Group.