What's all the fuss about purpose? Have you found yours?
Earlier this year, I was fortunate to be invited to a workshop focused on defining my own purpose (thanks ING!). It was an eye-opening experience.
What is a personal purpose anyway? You can be assured, everybody has one. It is the unique thing you are known for. It is not an objective linked to your role. Neither is it woolly or abstract. Your purpose has always been there with you and will be for many years. Most people, however, never take the time to articulate what their purpose is. I would like to share some insights on why I think you should.
Robots don't have a purpose; humans do.
A popular question nowadays is whether robots will take over our jobs. Various opinions in the world of science and technology – including Bill Gates and Elon Musk – warn that artificial intelligence is catching up with human intelligence. In fact, it may even overtake us in the not-so-distant future. No matter how smart AI machines may become, we will always have one competitive advantage. Thanks to millions of years of human evolution, we possess distinctive traits such as our ability to connect with others, empathise or do something crazy just because we feel like it. We are also able to determine our own purpose and how we experience meaning in life. Knowing your purpose provides you with an internal compass, which is unique to humans.
Purpose provides clarity and focus.
Time is a scarce resource. It is easy to get carried away by so many things that essentially do not matter. This could be a small thing, like browsing social media the whole evening instead of phoning a friend, or having regrets about bigger life decisions and events. Knowing your purpose reminds you of the bigger picture and helps you to differentiate between the important and unimportant. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean all your problems in life will magically disappear or guarantee you will always make the right decisions. However, it enables you to lead a more authentic life because you have clarity and are able to focus on that which is most important to you.
Own your purpose and grow your craftsmanship.
At ING, we are convinced that purpose is the beginning of craftsmanship. Craftsmanship entails becoming the best version of yourself you can possibly be. A true craftsman is continuously looking for ways to learn and improve in order to stay relevant and future-proof. To achieve this, you need to know what your purpose in life is and understand what crafts you need. Your craft empowers you to realise your purpose and makes it tangible to the outside world. If you can align your profession with your personal purpose, it is easier to play on your strengths and find fulfilment in what you do. This creates a win-win situation; you become more valuable to your organisation while becoming ever more employable.
To be the captain of the Dream Team.
So what is my purpose? My purpose is to be the captain of the Dream Team. This goes back to my youth, when I played a lot of basketball. This was during the golden days of Michael Jordan's Dream Team, who I watched with great admiration at the age of nine. It tells you I am passionate about working in a team, going the extra mile, aiming high, creating impact and having fun together. In addition to being a team member, I am energised by leading, inspiring and motivating the team in order to achieve our goals together.
I did not wake up one day knowing this is something that defines me. It was quite a journey of discovery, taking me through low points in life (we all have them) to my proudest achievements and experiences. Discovering my own purpose helped me to better understand what is important to me and the personal and professional path I have chosen so far.
So is purpose just a fad or here to stay? Looking at the challenges ahead of us and the pace of change, I am convinced there will be a need for more purpose. Not just for the C-suite, not just for millennials, but for everyone. I would encourage you to consider yours, and if you have already found it, why not share it?
Anneleen is always on the run. Running after her kids at home, going for a run in her hometown of Mechelen and trying not to run late for a night out with friends. She likes the good things in life: quality time with family and friends, quite often with some good food and drink. Anneleen is definitely a quality-seeker in everything she does. That comes in handy at work, where she passionately pursues her purpose: creating a dream team. Interesting fact: Anneleen is a twin expert! Next to having 5-year-old twins, she also has an identical twin sister. .