Purpose, key to achieve happiness at work - Part III: Personal Purpose
This is the third and last part of a series of blog entries to share the concepts that I presented during the 5th International Congress of Happiness at Work held in Bogotá on November 28, 2019.
This time it is about the personal Purpose that each of us must have.
To introduce the subject, I will return to my personal history.
After more than 14 years dedicated to humanitarian aid, I began to realize that dedicating myself to the service of others was ceasing to be the purpose of my life and I wanted to do something else. I thought it was on the side of being a university professor and that is why I started a process of seeking a scholarship for a doctorate.
While in that process I received the opportunity to enter the Colombian diplomatic service which I accepted without being sure that it would make me happy. What I can say is that it did not make me unhappy and I could provide a vision and a way of doing things differently, with more human approach, making the Consular offices where I worked a welcome site for Colombians abroad.
I achieved this because I was clear about my personal Purpose and despite that I worked on something that I thought was out of my comfort zone, I did it with all the dedication and passion. I learned to love what I did, even if I didn't do what I loved. And I did it with authenticity, being who I always have been and that's why I also managed to do more things, since the fact of being authentic makes you more faithful to your personal Purpose, and that the people around you notice.
Now, things can be different from that attitude that I have described in the previous lines and that is why we must be aware that, even having a purpose as a clear, inspiring and consistent company, not all employees will be happy working for us.
For these people this is not enough, since they feel the need to have their personal Purpose that is fundamental for their well-being and development as a person, and ultimately for their happiness.
It is important to have a Purpose in our life because, similar to what happen in companies, the Purpose motivates us, inspires us and helps us to maintain coherence between what we do and what we say.
The difference, if we had to find any, is that the Purpose of each person is individual and is not written for others to adhere to it and follow it as if it were an Instagram post to which we like.
Once we have defined the Purpose and act with coherence, we will be more likely to be happy, in our lives, in our work, in our relationships.
That is why it is important that we work it, that we define it.
This purpose is inner, deep, inspiring. Some people find it after walking in life, having explored, while others have it very clear from a young age. There are also others who will never consider having a purpose and spend their days without it.
Today we see some examples of very young people who have opted for their personal Purpose, have transcended and become internationally recognized by being inspiring of a change through action.
I think of Greta Thumberg and her crusade for climate change, which she has embarked on since she was 13 years old and is already a world reference to the point of being named person of the year by Time magazine.
Another clear example is Boyan Slat, the CEO of the Ocean Clean Up project who, at his 19 years old, decided to leave his engineering studies in order to devote himself to his purpose of cleaning the oceans from the plastic we pour into them.
Today, with 25 years, he runs an organization with a very ambitious mission such as “eliminating 90% of floating ocean plastic, which requires a global initiative. With the help and support of individuals, corporations and governments around the world, our goal is to carry out the mission and work towards a future in which plastic no longer contaminates our oceans.”
At the same time, there are other people who have more time and effort to define and live with our purpose. We have to work it; it will not fall upon us like the holy spirit.
Similar to what we saw in companies, the ideal would be that one could have define its purpose in our life at an early age and live according to it. But as it is something that is not talked about frequently, something that is not present in our initial formative processes, we must acquire it later in our lives, when we will surely have already walked in a direction that is not necessarily ours.
The purpose increases our ability to achieve greater impact on the work we do and to connect with other people in different cultures and contexts.
As individuals, bringing more passion and purpose to work can mean affirming ourselves in the formulation and realization of our daily tasks, connecting what we do with what we believe and care about, rather than passively embracing the status quo.
Defining the purpose means thinking about making valuable contributions to others (individuals and organizations) or to society. It is a reflection of our core values, and we feel better at work when our everyday behaviors and decisions are aligned with those values.
Some points that help us to define our purpose.
• The Personal Purpose is about how you decide to live each day.
• It is personal and must integrate your core strengths, interests and ambitions
• It must be your great WHY that it works in all aspects of your life
• When other people hear it, everyone will say "It's really you!"
• It is something bigger than yourself, your legacy
• You should see it as your compass, your North star or the Southern Cross, when facing a difficult decision or a dilemma
• It will be written in a special language of the path of your life, it speaks ONLY to you and every time you read it will motivate you.
We must bear in mind that, contrary to the Purpose of a company or organization, the Personal Purpose is not something static, something that is found once and for all. Personal Purpose can, and should be, continually rediscovered according to the circumstances and our own changes.
In my personal case, I have recently updated my purpose because I have taken a new turn in my life, I have decided to start a new journey and therefore I had to adjust it. It took me a while to put the right words to the updated version of my purpose, but I finally got to do it a few months ago, when I was immersed in a creative leadership course at the THNK creative leadership school in Amsterdam.
This purpose is what guides me and will guide me in the coming years, after having evolved from the previous one that was focused on serving the needy.
I have come to it walking the path since when I left the humanitarian aid world, listening again to this process of transformation that I felt at that time. I was able to refine it better after having seen several experiences within some universities and realized that what I want is to do something more unique, more dynamic and creative than what is taught today at the Universities.
And that is why it is consistent with what I am doing today that as strategic consultant focused on change, innovation and happiness.
In that order of ideas, I have been able to see how that Purpose fits perfectly within the mission I have set.
My mission is:
Inspire, accompany and train companies and individuals in processes of change and professional innovation for a transformation with positive impact.
My Personal Purpose is:
To use my happiness to unleash the true potential of people.
Having put words to my purpose has helped me dream of what I want to achieve and refine my action plan by discarding the things that distract me from the objective, those that deviate from my purpose.
And the result is being very positive, the ideas that were hovering have been aligned and now the road is clearer, everything flows.
Coherence is definitely being fundamental!!
Nothing truer than the words of the American writer and political activist Hellen Keller who said that "True happiness ... is not achieved through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose"
I feel that having defined my Personal Purpose and living in a manner consistent with it is leading me to be happier since it aligns my actions, my passion and my contribution to society.
And you, have you started thinking about your Personal Purpose?