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The Existential Fuel of Leadership? A Meaningful Purpose

Blog pic 162A few days ago, Sonya, a senior leader from a food services organization, asked to talk about the next phase of her career. She explained that her energy was waning, her enthusiasm was lacking, and she often showed up to work feeling dispirited. Her old strategies for pumping herself up no longer seemed to work.

The more we explored what Sonya was feeling, our conversation shifted from career to wellbeing. She’d lost her raison d’etre—the deeper meaning behind why she was a leader—and this absence was contaminating her zest for life overall.

Sonya’s situation reminded me of a quote by executive development pioneer Kevin Cashman:

“Purpose is spirit seeking expression. It converts average organizations into exceptional ones; it transforms employees into co-partners; it creates leaders out of managers.”

I love his sentence, “Purpose is spirit seeking expression.” Your purpose isn’t your job or your title, nor is it something you find out there somewhere. A clear purpose:

  • Taps into an inner reason for being that is meaningful to you
  • Has significance to you personally, regardless of cultural norms or what others think
  • Is tight enough to help you set healthy boundaries yet large enough that you have room to grow into it
  • Is a thread that likely has run through your life, shaping decisions you’ve made in the past
  • Often feels timeless, like a profound or spiritual connection
  • Reflects you at your most fulfilled, your most authentically well
  • Helps you answer the question, Why am I here?

Your sense of purpose provides a framework of meaning to guide and inspire how you live and lead. I think of purpose as existential fuel, enabling you to see the present and the path ahead as sacred for yourself and others.

If you, like Sonya, are feeling a lack of inspiration or drive, don’t seek your purpose as if it were a needle in a haystack or put pressure on yourself to create a single purpose statement that says it all. Start with compassion. Give yourself the space in which your deeper reasons for living and leading can naturally emerge. When you give your head and heart the space in which to consciously explore your purpose, the journey itself will invite you to a fuller, embodied sense of wellbeing behind who you are and everything you do.

Clarity of purpose can revitalize your leadership. To learn more about the transformational leadership programs and coaching services at Wisdom Works, please contact me at renee@wisdom-works.com.