At a recent workshop, someone asked me, “How do separate my corporate purpose and my personal purpose?” That indeed is a tricky question.
If you’re starting a business of your own, your personal values help to subconsciously influence your personal and your business purpose. They don’t have to separated as it’s a company that you are building from scratch. The company brand is an extension of yourself.
However, if you’re in charge of a company’s mission and branding, the lines get blurry. From my past posts and other business articles and videos, you will surely know that every company was created with a “Why” in mind. This then streams down to all the product lines that they produce. When you’re just starting our in your career, it is very rare that you already know your purpose in life and your purpose in building your career other than to pay the bills and perhaps support your family while indulging on yourself once in a while.
Your clear personal purpose comes naturally with age. By being clear with your purpose, you don’t get distracted by noise. In the past year, all I wanted to do is deliver super and meaningful events to clients while making sure I dedicate time to special projects that help different communities. I help students find their strengths and weakness by mentoring them. I help spot opportunities for those I meet and I help people define their brand and learn to be comfortable being in the spotlight for the good work they do.
When you share your purpose with your clients, peers and your superiors, they then know how to help connect the dots for you.
Fire-fighting is a norm when starting a business or a career. You don’t have time to reflect and think about what really makes you happy besides the idea of having a weekend to have good lie in.
To help you find your purpose, you can generate insights based on your experiences that may give you clues as to what your purpose could be. Three questions to get you started are:
What is the work you’re most proud of and why?
Who do you admire and why?
What are your career boomerangs (i.e. the things you keep coming back to in different roles)?
Often, when you look back you can see patterns in your work, where you have felt most energised or where you have been most successful. It is in these moments that the clues will exist.
Success is a statement that feels unique and credible to you, which you’re not embarrassed to talk about with people. Using a phrase like ‘what is most important to me is…’ can feel more natural than stating ‘my purpose at work is to…’.
In your own business, it is easier to align your personal purpose with the projects that you take on. If you’re working for a company, however, you might find that corporate targets don’t tie back to the things that are meaningful to you.
In this instance, you can measure your success by looking at how many opportunities you have spotted and where your input has created new sources of business value.
When you have identified your personal measures, you can think about projects or business problems you could solve that align with your purpose. Create a plan about how you would approach these challenges and share it with your manager or relevant stakeholders internally.
If you can’t find an opportunity internally, think about side-projects you could start externally.
Finally, be around people who care about the same things as you. These people will inspire you with their beliefs and their achievements. They are great to bounce ideas off and can help you to increase your impact by working together with them.
A purpose-led career and business does require an ongoing investment of time and effort, but it does give meaning to the time we spend at work.