Have you ever asked yourself, “What fulfills me?” It’s an awkward question, but one that is important to understand who you are and where you want to go in life. People who know and pursue what fulfills them have better productivity, focus, and overall health. So says Ben Renshaw in his book - Purpose – The Extraordinary Benefits of What Matters Most, published in 2020.
The question, “What fulfills me?” is another way of asking yourself “What is my purpose?” If you don’t know your purpose, or if you don’t feel you have the right purpose, this book will help you discover it. This book will also help you understand how to find your purpose and how you will benefit from it.
Renshaw breaks down how to find your purpose, why you need to find your purpose, and how knowing your purpose will positively affect every aspect of your life. Renshaw shares practical examples and personal stories of purpose throughout many industries. Whether you are a teacher, a salesman; young, or experienced - Purpose is for everyone. Everything you do is guided by your purpose, and this book will help you find it.
The three most powerful points I took from the book were;
Being authentic, admitting our limitations, and being transparent in our communication helps others believe in your skills as a leader.
Your team’s purpose needs to be created with input from everyone on the team. It cannot be dictated by one person.
A personal purpose provides you with an anchor, a sense of meaning, and a clear focus in a disruptive environment. Following your purpose helps you make a difference in the world.
As a child, author Ben Renshaw was trained as a classical violinist. He toured the world and showcased his extraordinary talent. But in spite of his success and recognition, he wasn’t happy. Renshaw felt he didn’t have a purpose and was afraid that all his time practicing and performing was for nothing. Ben embarked on a personal journey to discover who he really was as a person. He realized his purpose was people. He loved connecting with others and interacting with all types of people, so he pursued the field of personal development to focus on relationships, happiness, and leadership.
This new purpose made him a new person. A purpose helps you learn who you really are and leading with purpose will have a huge impact on your life. Before we identify your individual purpose and how to use it to help others, we’ll share the benefits of leading a life with purpose.
Lead a Life with Purpose Making Meaning.
Once you are clear on your purpose, you can apply meaning to every aspect of your world. This meaning is important at all times, but especially in hard times. One inspiring example comes from one of the darkest times in history.
Victor Frankl was a Viennese psychiatrist who survived seven concentration camps during World War II. He believed man’s deepest desire was to search for meaning and purpose. His purpose was to have hope amidst all the despair around him, and he believed that’s what helped him survive. Your purpose helps you find your meaning, and it can guide you through whatever trials you experience in your journeys.
We spend so much time trying to gain new skills and knowledge in the hopes of being better than
everyone else. This constant pursuit of the future prevents us from taking a step back and trying to
learn who we are in the present. Being authentic, admitting our limitations, and being transparent in our communication helps others believe in your skills as a leader.
We can’t hope to lead others or believe in ourselves if we don’t have the energy for it. You need to know what energizes you and, just as important, what de-energizes you. People can be either a source of energy or exhaustion. For those who energize you, you need to ensure you keep in touch with them.
The energy those people give you will help you in following your purpose. For those that exhaust you, you need to cut them out of your life. Every second you spend with someone who de-energizes you is a second you are not serving your purpose. Physical health is another source of energy. What kind of foods do you eat? How much sleep do you get? Emotional health is another source – do you have a positive outlook on life, or are you constantly focusing on negative emotions? These questions help you understand what is driving your purpose and what is damaging it.
The most important role in leadership is to inspire others. Organizations that have inspired employees are more productive, have greater profit, and have lower turnover than organizations with people who don’t feel inspired. You won’t be able to serve your purpose by yourself, so inspiring others ensures you reach and help the most people.
The key foundation for high-performing teams is to have a clear sense of direction. This direction comes from purpose. A team that has purpose can stay focused on the goal so they don’t get derailed from distractions. Whatever distractions or challenges occur, your team can always look at their purpose to guide their actions. Creating Business Differentiation Organizations driven by a clear purpose have
more loyal customers, increased returns for shareholders, and create economic and social value. This purpose-driven mindset is important for all employees, not just the senior leaders.
Now, you understand what is at stake and how leading with purpose can benefit everyone. The next step is defining your personal purpose.
Identify Your Personal Purpose.
Your personal purpose is your reason for being. It inspires and guides everything you do in your life.
Your purpose is your “Why.” It’s important to note that your purpose cannot be a value, like “honesty.” A value shapes how you behave, but it’s not the reason why you behave that way. A purpose can also not be a goal. A goal is what you want to do, but it’s not your “Why.” Think of your goals as your “What,” your values as your “How,” and your purpose as your “Why.”
Now that you know what a purpose is, you need to identify your purpose.
There are 8 easy steps to guide you towards identifying your purpose.
Think back to the peak moments in your life when you were at your best.
Think about what was happening (an activity like a sport, a relationship you had, etc).
Identify the key themes that are shared across your peak moments.
Group the themes into broader categories like “helping people” or “making change happen.”
Identify a category that stands out above the others.
Ask a trusted person to help you explore that stand-out theme. What does it mean to you, and why?
Ask them to take that information and summarize a potential purpose for you.
Clarify an initial purpose statement that means something to you. In this activity, keep it simple and don’t be vague. A purpose like “leave a legacy” doesn’t give you any specific direction. An example of a powerful purpose is Nelson Mandela’s – “Live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
In addition to you finding your purpose, your team needs to find its purpose as well. Your team’s purpose needs to be created with input from everyone on the team. It cannot be dictated by one person. A purpose is not something you have to do – it is something you want to be. You, your team, and your organization need to be clear on their purpose in order to be successful and make a difference in the world.
So far, we’ve covered the benefits of leading with purpose and identified your purpose. In this next section, we will look at six key skills that are the building blocks to help you serve your purpose.
Live and Lead with Purpose. Listening To Learn what is most important to others, you need to purposefully listen to them. You won’t get anything done if you don’t know the other person’s goals, motives, and who they are.
Storytelling. Everyone loves a good story. Stories have the power to connect people through a common vision to achieve a common goal. Instead of just telling someone what your purpose is, tell them a story to bring your purpose to life.
Coaching. Coaching is a learning approach based on eliciting truth through questions and answers. Whether you are a parent developing a child or boss developing an employee, coaching is based on bringing out the potential people have in them. Instead of just telling them what to do, you need to bring out the answers they already have inside them through asking them questions. Unlocking this potential is the key to high performance.
Feedback. Feedback is usually associated with negativity, where something is wrong and you have to tell someone how to fix it. The true definition of feedback is the art of encouragement. This encouragement can be to reinforce someone when they are performing a task correctly, or it can be helping someone improve an area of opportunity. Both lead towards a positive outcome.
Relationships. If there is one leadership skill that rises above all others, it’s the ability to build and sustain meaningful relationships. You are not going to get anything done by yourself and building relationships will help you serve your purpose, so you can help others.
Focus. We live in a world of distraction where it is hard to focus on what matters most. Purpose helps you focus by basing your attention on what will and will not serve your purpose. This makes it easier for you, your team, and your organization to focus on what really matters. Of course, having a purpose and having those skills means nothing if you cannot turn it into action.
Turn Your Purpose into Action
To take meaningful action, you need to have a support system, like your team. Your team needs to believe in you as a leader if they’re going to take the actions to serve your purpose. The essence of leadership is authenticity – share your flaws, admit your struggles, and just be yourself. When your team sees you as a person and not someone just trying to get ahead, they are more likely to follow you.
Once you have them believing in you, you need to play to your and their strengths. We spend so much
time trying to find/fix weaknesses, but we should be highlighting our strengths and using those to drive us towards living our purpose. Leading with purpose means you need to develop compassion towards others. Compassion means truly learning about the other person, verifying you are both on the same page, and offering to help and serve others.
Your purpose should never just be about how it can help you – it should be how you are going to help others. Knowing your purpose, and living it, will help you as you experience struggles and setbacks.
Struggles can either hurt you or help you. In a way, your struggles can strengthen you by boosting your resiliency – your ability to recover from setbacks. Unfortunately, we are sold the idea that life should be easy, and if it’s not easy, then something is wrong. This could not be further from the truth. We need to be flexible and adapt to change as it happens. We can’t succeed with a plan that’s failing – we need to adapt and keep going in the face of adversity.
Your purpose should lead you to build and sustain connections with others. Great relationships lead to great results, and you need to develop those great connections to live and serve your purpose. Six traits of a connected leader are someone who is aware of the world around them, works constantly on maintaining their network, embraces diversity among their connections, adapts to unpredictable circumstances to benefit everyone, collaborates professionally and effectively with others, and is focused on achieving success as a team.
As a leader, you can lead change by creating an environment that encourages it. People need to understand why the change is needed, they need to feel empowered to participate, and they need to know the change will continue to benefit them instead of be abandoned/forgot them when times get tough.
Lastly, having a clear purpose can positively affect your health. Anxiety, sleep deprivation, and
stress are parts of our everyday lives, and these factors cause us to ignore personal health and well-being. Think about your well-being as it is now – are you where you want to be in terms of
health? If not – what actions can you take in the next six months to be better?
What I took from it.
A personal purpose provides you with an anchor, a sense of meaning, and a clear focus in a disruptive environment. Following your purpose helps you make a difference in the world. Now, it is up to you to identify that purpose and lead with it. Ben Renshaw builds purposeful partnerships with leading organizations to develop leadership capability, high performing teams and transform organizational cultures.
He believes that discovering and leading with purpose is the greatest opportunity in life. Speaker, coach, consultant and popular author of 8 books including Purpose, Lead, and SuperCoaching, Ben inspires people to go beyond what they think is possible. As a consultant he is renowned for getting to the heart of situations and creating the conditions for new solutions to emerge and as an author Ben blends his depth of insight with practical calls to action