Clarity in Purpose for the New Year


In the chaos of any given day, clarity is constantly in jeopardy. For the manager and her team this is a threat to personal satisfaction with work, progress in work, and to success. Mediocrity beckons and frustrations mount. Disillusionment tricks us into believing that there is no solution to the disorganization chaos leaves behind.

There is, though, an antidote. It’s not to chaos; it’s a business reality. The antidote is to the mediocrity, frustration and disillusionment that chaos breeds. That antidote is purpose.

Merriam-Webster defines purpose as the reason why something is done or used: the aim or intention of something, the feeling of being determined to do or achieve something.

That antidote is purpose.

Aspiration, clarity and focus are built into purpose. Just notice the bolded phrases from the definition. Purpose beckons us forward to explore the deeper reasons behind what we do. To understand what Simon Sinek calls “The Why” leads to determination. If chaos breeds mediocrity, frustration and disillusionment, then purpose delivers hope, alignment, creativity, impact, community, connectedness, and drive.

Purpose is the lightening rod to unite a willing group or team of people eager to achieve something bigger collectively. Purpose is what we seek personally and professionally. It is not solely for the faithful. It is part of the human experience, and we need you to make purpose clear for you and your team.

Getting to Clarity in Purpose

Annually organizations revisit, create and update their goals. It’s often a perfunctory task: Check. It’s now done and on to the next thing. Purpose has no opportunity to thrive or even emerge with such an approach.

Purpose delivers hope, alignment, creativity, impact, community, connectedness, and drive.

To get clarity in purpose the reason why the work is necessary needs to be explored, digested and integrated into the shared story that employees tell about why they do what they do.

As a manager, it’s up to you to ward off the effects of chaos and the sleepiness from the routine of annual planning. I recommend that before the alignment activities inherent in the annual planning (strategic planning) process begin, go through a series of mini-workshops answering the following questions as a team. It’s best to give the questions to employees before the mini-workshops to allow time for reflection.

  • What do we do?
  • Who benefits from our work?
  • How do they benefit?
  • Why do we do it? [Purpose question]
  • What value do you get from the work? What value would you like to get out of your work?
  • What happens if we don’t do what we do?
  • Without your contribution, how is our purpose impacted?
  • What commitments do we need to make to align with our purpose?
  • What do you need to do?
  • What do you need from me?

The reason why the work is necessary needs to be explored, digested and integrated into the shared story that employees tell about why they do what they do.

These questions are designed to align a team’s purpose with the larger purpose of the organization. Your team’s purpose and the organization’s purpose are not to make a profit. This is an outcome. If you’re in customer service, your purpose isn’t to respond to customer’s questions. Perhaps it’s to deepen reverence for the brand. Or perhaps to make the customer’s life easier.

Purpose is bigger than anything any one of us can achieve on our own. Purpose inspires. Purpose always motivates. Purpose can be shared collectively and benefits everyone.

Walking into a new year is hopeful. It’s filled with belief that things are possible. A manager gives a nod to these aspirational realities. A leader lifts hope and possibility up and guides people by them. A leader uses their infectious nature to let emerge results that astound and satisfy.

Don’t go too far into the New Year without tapping into the guidance purpose provides when needing to achieve results.

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Image credit- stokkete / 123RF Stock Photo

Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of Switch and Shift. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

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