Purpose pt.1

We have now reached the third and final component of Extraordinary Success: Purpose. 

Purpose can be defined simply as the reason why something exists.

The definition may be simple, but the sad truth is that there are very few organizations and even fewer individuals who are truly clear on their unique, specific purpose. We’ve referred a number of times to Jim Collins’ book Good to Great. It will come as no surprise that a clear, higher sense of purpose that inspires was among the traits of the most successful companies. The same is true of individuals.

If being clear on one’s purpose makes such a difference, why are so few actually clear on it? Perhaps it is because–like forging one’s core values–getting clear on one’s purpose can require a lot of thought and always goes beyond surface level thinking.

I would like to introduce you to four questions that I believe will help you uncover your unique, specific purpose:

  1. What would happen if you did not exist?
  2. What are you passionate about?
  3. What are your skills/talents?
  4. What makes you feel noble?

Over the next three posts we’ll look at the last three questions and to get things started let’s look at the first question now.

What would happen if you did not exist?

Have you ever considered this before?

When I was first presented with this question I was the owner of Bracken Paving. My initial answer was: well, if we didn’t exist, these paving jobs wouldn’t get done. As I reflected on the question however it became clear that this was the wrong answer. There were twenty-two other paving companies in the region. The paving jobs would get done with or without Bracken Paving.

So the question pushed me to look deeper. What was our unique purpose?

At Bracken Paving, we were very intentional about establishing a unique culture for our employees to flourish, grow and succeed. If we did not exist, would this culture have been provided in our region? Probably not.

We were also very proactive in creating and participating in projects that gave back to the community. If we did not exist, many of those projects wouldn’t have been realized.

These were a couple of the things that we discovered to be unique about our organization, things that were very helpful in defining our true purpose.

In 2008, we were fortunate enough to win Equipment World’s National Contractor of the Year. It was apparent that the things that truly set us apart, in the end, were the same unique traits that became the answers to the question, what would happen if you did not exist?

Insert your own name or the name of your organization into this scenario. You’ll find, just as I did, that your initial answers are likely too shallow. The question will force you to dig deeper. The tendency is for people to equate their job title with their purpose, but unless your job title is truly one-of-a-kind (highly unlikely!) then this can’t be the answer. If you changed positions, would your purpose automatically change? Of course not. Keep digging until you discover the things that truly wouldn’t be possible without your existence.

Keep digging until you discover the things that truly wouldn't be possible without your existence. Click To Tweet

As we add in each of remaining three questions over the next few weeks, the path to discovering and clarifying your unique purpose will become increasingly apparent. Until then, reflect on this question and see how far the answers can take you.

As always, if you’d like someone to come alongside you to encourage and challenge you on your journey, I would be happy to help you! Feel free to reach out to me by email at alan@alanbracken.com or simply text or call me directly–423.863.6257.





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