The conversations I have with my clients are not just about what career move is next or what kind of business they’ll start but also how to live with purpose and meaning.
Like many people I work with, I had the limited view that contribution should be synonymous with self-sacrifice and that the people who did ‘purpose’ best, also shunned wealth and success. I wasn’t sure it was possible to make a genuine contribution to society at the same time as living an abundant and beautiful life.
These days I view purpose in a different light.
The shift came partly from a conversation I had with a client who works in a corporate role that on face value is about as far from purposeful as you could imagine. After an awful accident, she began to question the work she was doing.
She started to explore alternatives and while her chosen options appeared more altruistic, it was obvious she had some reservations. She loved many aspects of her existing career and she couldn’t deny that she loved the lifestyle it afforded her. When we began to explore her strengths, we agreed that her gifts are actually what the corporate world needs more of.
She has a great capacity for insight and intuition and an innate strength of leadership; she has a desire to lead by developing and growing others rather than holding onto power; she’s naturally light-hearted so she brings joy into a room (this was my observation, not hers); she is one of the best strategic thinkers I know; she’s generous and kind and she has a genuine desire to make a positive difference in the world.
These are the qualities we need in our leaders.
She and I talked about what would happen if every person of this calibre walked away from big business. What hope would we have of creating more conscious corporations?
When we re-visited the conversation of purpose, I invited her to ask herself this question.
How can I use my gifts to make a difference in other people’s lives, doing what I do right now?
It’s the same question each of us needs to ask ourselves every day. When we have an answer (or a myriad of answers), we choose one area to focus on and we make a start.
Living with purpose doesn’t need to be any more complex than this.
We don’t need to leave the roles that grant us the earning capacity to create comfortable lives. Instead, we can commit to creating change in the places we find ourselves every day. It’s often here that we can make the most significant difference.
How can you make a difference today?
- Offer support to a colleague who is struggling.
- Speak up about something that you believe to be unethical.
- Have a difficult conversation in a sensitive way.
- Refuse to fuel negativity in your workplace and invite others to do the same.
- Launch a meaningful corporate social responsibility program within your workplace.
- Share a portion of your generous salary by contributing financially to causes you care about.
- If you can spare the time, volunteer too. If you’re juggling family and career and you’re already really stretched, make plans to do that once life is less busy and put aside your guilt for now.