Every Leader—in politics or religion or business, or even in the home—must ask and answer these questions: Why am I here? What’s my Purpose? What motivates me? What gets me out of bed in the morning? This may seem to some a simple question.
The answers may range from “survival” (I don’t like it but I’ve got to go to work) to “promotion” (I’ll never get that next position if I don’t show a little ambition) to “making money” (are you kidding? Isn’t this the only real Purpose any of us have?). But none of these answers satisfy real Leaders.
I’m working with a team of business executives right now who prefer this definition:
Our Purpose in this organization (and in our lives) is the on-going discovery of how we utilize our own individual strengths and talents to add value to others.
Is that wild, or what?
Here’s how they’re approaching it. Both as a team and as individuals they ask:
The Great Paradox is not a religious concept; it’s just basic human nature. “Help others, you win; help only yourself, you lose.” Selfish people are shunned and excluded and, in the end, they lose. Charitable people are welcomed and included and, in the end, they win. If our Purpose is to advance ourselves and make ourselves healthy, wealthy, and wise, and we use other people to help us achieve this, we will eventually fail. Honest! And the opposite is true as well: If our Purpose is to help others, we will be helped in the process. Like all paradoxes, it doesn’t seem true at first.
I saw this in bold print when I was a vice president of Charter Medical Corporation. We had eighty-one hospitals; each with forty beds for adolescents and forty beds for alcoholics and drug abusers. These patients needed expert care and constant attention. But it was easy for some of the top executives, who worked all day in their paneled offices, to forget the patients and focus only on making money. That was their Purpose and, in the end, they lost.
I agree with these business executives I’m currently working with: I believe our Purpose must be to channel our talents and special gifts of nature into a funnel of assistance for others. If this is our Purpose, we will never run out of things to do. It will be an “ongoing discovery.”
My Purpose in life and in business has always been to help other people to “think and analyze,” and I never seem to run out of ways to do this. I’ve done this a professor in a university and as a consultant to many businesses around this country and Europe.
Lately, I’ve focused on religion. I have some special gifts in this arena, and I know that many people here in Middle Georgia desperately want to rethink their religious beliefs. My Purpose is not to destroy their faith. On the contrary, “thinking and analyzing” will only strengthen it.
Of course, everyone doesn’t agree with my Purpose. But that’s their Purpose.