Monday, 7 February 2011

How do you recognise your purpose in life? And how to see it in others

My heartfelt belief is that 90% of the population are in the wrong job altogether or not engaged by their work.

 According to the laws of probability, not thriving in the right work for you is likely because we’re inundated with so much choice these days that the probability of landing a job that you love makes it unlikely. Someone mentioned a statistic to me which I constantly repeat: 75% of the goods available to consumers today were not invented in 1975!!

Young people and old are flooded with decision making challenges on a daily basis. So without taking career planning seriously you’re highly unlikely to randomly land in a job that you love. As I frequently point out, people treat their career planning along similar lines to pinning the tail on a donkey.


What is a job that you love anyway?

Well for me it is all about a job that conjures-up a sense of purpose in your life. The alarm clock rings, the duvet hits the ceiling and you know just where you’re going every day. Your working generates a busy hum and everyone around you knows you are on target to succeed. Based on passion, your work is effortless.

Your life is the personification of meaning. You have meaning in your stride, in the tonality of your voice, in your body language and it is actually quite attractive to behold. People experiencing purpose in their lives are more attractive and they have great energy in their lives. So the likelihood is that not many of us benefit from this esoteric aura that earns us a pleasurable living.

Bean-Counters don’t see the value in purpose because they cannot see it and they cannot measure it. However, if they stood back for a moment and looked at the people who demonstrate purposefulness in their lives they’d see it. And probably find a way of measuring it because it a where organisations generate all of their value.

By definition most innovations stem from people who see a problem and want to solve it. The see an obstacle to getting something done efficiently and invent a solution that overcomes the hurdle. They thrive on this kind of purpose and it is this drive that fuels their daily contribution. Therefore, purpose-filled people are value generating people and Bean Counters might do well to recognise them better.

Turning this around, if only 10% of most organisation’s employees are purposeful and yet they are profitable and sustainable businesses, imaging the value that could potentially be generated if more employees were purposeful? Bean Counters might not recognise it, but that bottom line they’re so focussed on all stems from their colleague’s purpose in life.


Turning people on to meaning-filled and purposeful careers is not some esoteric fantasy. We owe it to ourselves, our organisations, our bottom-line but most of all to our employees to turn them on to their purpose and bear witness to the change in attitudes. Sustainability, wellbeing and value and all inextricably linked to well-intentioned focus, meaning and purpose. Get those pillars in alignment and see your stock rise.


So I leave with this thought: If you could measure purpose in your life how would you measure it? And how would you recognise purpose if you saw it?

Responses to: duncanbolam@careerdovetail.co.uk