by Boris Joaquin (Originally published in Philippine Star February 8, 2016)
Where there is no vision, the people perish... (Prov. 29:18a)
All great leaders have a specific leadership point of view that defines how they see their role and their relationship to those they seek to influence.
Think about this: If you lived according to your purpose, what would happen? What difference would you make in the world? How would people describe you?
Whenever we are spurred on to think about our vision, we are often asked to think about how we would like others to remember us. What would you want written about you in your obituary? This may sound morbid, but it is effective. You need to be able to project the impact and contribution you would like to make in the world. That would be your legacy.
Your legacy is the sum of the accomplishments for which you will be remembered. It reflects the impact you have had on this world. Will you be remembered for storing up treasures on earth or in heaven? Defining how you would like to be remembered after your death provides a compelling compass to guide your everyday decisions and actions.
Alfred Nobel is best known for the Nobel Peace Prize. But do you know that this is not what he was originally known for?
When Alfred’s brother died, the newspaper confused Alfred’s life with his brother’s. While reading his brother’s obituary, Alfred discovered that the newspaper had printed his obituary. “The Merchant of Death is Dead!” proclaimed the headline. Nobel could not believe that he would be remembered for the destruction and devastation associated with his most famous invention: dynamite. Then he asked his friends in Stockholm, Sweden what the opposite of destruction is, and they said “peace”. Nobel was a changed man and purposed in his heart to use his wealth to alter his legacy. Nobel chose to refocus his life and ultimately rewrote his obituary. He changed his legacy in midlife. Today, Alfred Nobel is remembered, not for destruction, but for peace.
What are three things for which you would like to be remembered?
This is where values are important. Your values are what you stand for. They are non-negotiable priorities in life that define your character. Values guide your decisions and directions and behavior. Before seeking to influence the thinking and behavior of others, it is important to have a conviction about your own personal values. What are the values that will guide you throughout your life?
Purpose is Powerful
When leading others, the ability to motivate people is, in itself, not difficult. It is usually tied to some external factor like giving prizes or pressure. However, great leaders inspire people to act. Those who truly lead are able to create a following of people who act, not because they were swayed, but because they were inspired. Those who are able to inspire give people a sense of purpose or belonging that has little to do with any external incentive or benefit to be gained. But this influence first needs to begin within: great leaders need to personally have compelling purposes in their lives.
For leaders with purpose, the motivation to act is deeply personal. They are less likely to be swayed by incentives. They are even willing to pay a premium or endure inconvenience, even personal suffering just to reach their goals. They are able to inspire others, create a following of people – supporters, voters, customers, workers – who act for the good of the whole not because they have to, but because they want to.
Regardless of what we do in our lives, our driving purpose, cause or belief – why we do what we do -- never changes. What we do is simply the tangible way we find to breathe life into that cause. When your WHY is clear, those who share that belief will be drawn to it and maybe want to take part in bringing it to life. If that clear belief is amplified, it can have the power to rally even more believers to raise their hands and declare their commitment.
Your destination is your purpose. That’s where you are going. It’s like traveling to a certain location. To get there, we have a variety of vehicle options to get there -- e.g. a bus or a bike – one taking us there faster or in multiple routes. Most people mistake the vehicle they are in as their purpose in life. But sometimes, you need to get off and on certain vehicles to get to your destination.
That’s why we want the people of our organization to discover their purpose.
The former CEO of Navigators International once told me that at the start of every year, they ask their people to go on a paid personal retreat and rediscover their purpose in life. He said 60% of the time, people do come back re-energized and passionate to move further. Twenty per cent of them would like to have a talk, mostly so that they can take on another challenge or be moved to other job posts or department. Then I asked, “What happens to the rest?” He said that more often than not, they resign. Now that may sound sad. But the truth is, at least for that CEO, it is better to lose good people who are not aligned with the organization’s purpose because if not, they will end up doing a mediocre job at their post and live sub-standard lives.
People whose personal life purpose is aligned with the purpose of their job would love going to work. They are more productive and creative. They go home happier and have happier families. They treat their colleagues and clients and customers better. Purpose-driven employees make for stronger companies and stronger economies.