When I begin coaching new clients, one of the first things I do is help them develop a first draft of a life purpose statement.
Having a clear and contagious purpose can serve as a:
Over 40 years ago I wrote my first purpose statement:
“To leave footprints in the hearts of God-hungry leaders who reproduce”
My current purpose statement is:
“To help develop, equip and empower leaders in local churches so that they finish their race well.”
I am, by the grace of God, a “Leader Developer.”
I can’t begin to tell you what a difference having this purpose statement clear to me has meant.
It enables me to know what to say “yes” or “no” to without feeling guilty. It enables me to know how to set my priorities and how to use my time, talents and treasures.
This is so important that I devoted a full chapter, The Leaders Purpose, in my book “Leaders Who Last.”
A clearly written and understood purpose statement explains why you exist, the unique value you bring to the people you’re trying to influence, what sets you apart and why what you do truly matters.
“What are the two most important days in your life? The day you are born and the day you find out why.” —Mark Twain
Your purpose should be about serving an unmet need, doing something unique, and uniquely well, for people.
Purpose is where significant differences start. Nothing else is more important to your success than knowing why you are here, and what critical need you intend to fill.
Every concept of strategy which has entered the conversation about leading —sustainability, differentiation, added value—flows from purpose.
A good purpose statement is ennobling. It lifts the spirit of those working with you and gives them strong motivation and a desire to make things happen. You don’t want to overlook the role of purpose in fostering the care and commitment that lead people to produce solid results.
A good purpose statement puts a stake in the ground —“I do X, not Y.” Choosing to be one thing means not being something else. It gives you permission to let many things go in order to be very good at one or a few things. If your purpose does not preclude you from undertaking certain kinds of activities, then it’s not a good purpose.
The acid test, then, of a purpose statement is this: Will understanding and applying it give you a difference which matters to the people you’re trying to reach?
I’ve observed that quite often the organization a leader leads is a reflection of that leader’s purpose in life. Who you are will stamp and mark what you lead. So, having your own purpose statement will also aid you in leading others in achieving something of value and worth.
Author Os Guinness records this sobering confession by a successful businessman with no clear purpose:
“As you know, I have been very fortunate in my career and I’ve made a lot of money—far more than I ever dreamed of. Far more than I could ever spend, far more than my
family needs.” The speaker was a prominent businessman at a conference near Oxford University.
The strength of his determination and character showed in his face, but a moment’s hesitation betrayed deeper emotions hidden behind the outward intensity.
A single tear rolled slowly down his well-tanned cheek, “To be honest, one of my motives for making so much money was simple—to have the money to hire people to do what I don’t like doing. But there’s one thing I’ve never been able to hire anyone to do for me: find my own sense of purpose and fulfillment. I’d give anything to discover that.”
Do you have a clear life purpose? Do you know who you are and what your God-given unique contribution is? Why not take some time and craft a first draft?