Purpose & Leadership Styles
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain
Recently, I had a moustache and goatee. No particular reason, just a new look. It was remarked I looked a little like Colonel Sanders. Still processing that one. Now, if you know anything about the man and his business, he had (and KFC still has) 11 special and secret herbs and spices elevating his fried chicken, as well as his brand, into legend.
These spices, however cryptic and secretive, are the foundation behind his success. Each herb has a place. They have meaning, and each one supports the other in creating his recipe for success.
Leadership is not fried chicken. There is no similarity save one. They are both an end product. They
are the result of following a recipe.
This series of articles will look at each “herb” of leadership. How one distinct aspect of a recipe accomplishes a collective, desired end result. We will explore each characteristic and its unique “flavor” profile.
More importantly, we will challenge how we can identify and then live out that particular herb in our leadership style. It will be a little about what it is, and more about how we can make the most of it in our moments.
What does leadership mean? Finding purpose.
In a way, finding purpose is the big one. It’s the staple. The seasoning upon which all things are built upon. Maybe like salt. Salt is essentially a part of most, if not all recipes. Also, it has been said…Life without salt is tasteless and bland. Take everything with a grain of salt, and so on. Purpose is like that.
Purpose is what gives taste to everything we do. It’s how we choose. How we succeed. How we fail. How we live. It’s what gets us up in the morning. It’s our filter that everything we think, say, and do passes through.
The challenge we may face is in finding our purpose. What is it? Or perhaps, more appropriately, how do we come to know what it is?
Find your purpose today
Start with a sheet of paper and a pen. Draft your answers to some or all of following questions:
- What are your values?
- What is essential in how you live your life each day – what’s a perfect day?
- What represents passion in your life – what do you love to do?
- What are the easiest things you do in your life?
- What things do people say you do very, very well?
- What things are on your bucket list?
- How will you measure your life?
You can apply these questions in your individual point of view, or expand it out into your team or company culture. Ask the question about your desired landscape, and consider the answers.
Let’s be real, while you explore these questions, you may find that defining one’s purpose can be a challenge. You may struggle in your contemplation. You may even waiver in your thinking as to “what it is, or what it can, would, or should be”. It may even seem like it’s too much, too elusive, or it’s just not where you are right now.
So, as you step into any activity to determine your purpose, first off, give yourself some grace and space to figure this out. You probably won’t, as a mentor once shared, have this figured out by Thursday. Figuratively suggesting, it can take some time.
Maybe for some, you’re just starting. Begin by being aware. Maybe start researching what and how you might define purpose. What does it look and feel like? Then pivot into identifying the particulars of your purpose. Things that resonate with you.
Place what you know into perspective, then begin applying those aspects and behaviors in whatever you face and whatever you are given. And then, as you live it out, cultivate some type of mindfulness of how this purpose is creating impact and influence in what you do and how you do it. Embrace the uncertainty and unexpectedness of the process.
You may find that you always knew what your purpose was. You may pause, reflect, and accept that you’re not there yet. You might even find it’s less a destination, and more a joy-filled journey, where each new day reveals another aspect of the possibilities it provides. Somewhere lodged between the ordinary and extraordinary.
We all have purpose. It’s there waiting to be applied. Like salt on the kitchen table. Salt is used to enhance flavor and the taste of food. Some like it a lot, some just a pinch. Let purpose be that enhancement in your personal life and professional leadership journey.
Activities to get closer to finding purpose
- Write out your personal philosophy
- Make a list of the “Top Five Things I Want to Accomplish”
- Create a legacy letter – write a letter to your future self about how you want to be remembered
- Identify your core values (what you believe and how you live life) and your opportunities/possibilities (what you dream of and aspire to be), and match them up
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