What are you committed to creating in your life? What unique problem are you best able to solve? Who are you becoming? What future are you living into? These questions are at the core of what our purpose is.
Life is a constant process of change. Every new day, every new month, every experience, every crisis like the current covid pandemic – is an opportunity to grow and possibly, to recalibrate your life. It’s a great opportunity to take stock and to ask – what direction am I heading? What is my purpose? What is the vision for my life? This is a very important starting point. For you to achieve anything, you need to know what you are trying to achieve. There’s a saying “if you don’t know where you’re going, then it doesn’t matter which path you take.”
A question I often get asked is “how do you know what you’re to become”? Another way to say this is “how do I know what my purpose is? Sometimes people get stuck because what they’re directing their energy into becoming, is not aligned with who they are at their core or what they are called to be.
To get a clear sense of what your purpose is, you can ask yourself 3 questions:
Firstly – What are you passionate about? What drives you? What energises you? What are those things that you would do even if you’re not getting paid? What do you love to do?
Second – What problem do you want to solve? Where do you see a need? What do you see that needs to be changed? Perhaps it’s a product that needs to be enhanced? Or a cause that you believe needs to be advocated.
Third – What are your strengths? What are you good at?
The intersection of these three things speaks to your purpose.
An entrepreneur went through this exercise with me recently. His passion was around generating ideas and seeing things bloom. He had a deep desire to elevate people from suffering and lack to abundance, and his strengths were strategic thinking, problem solving, and human relations. He saw his purpose as using his ability to think strategically and his passion for creating things, to build an organization that would not only provide jobs for many people, but also have a culture that uplifts and empowers people.
I invite you to take a few moments to perform this exercise. Think about those three questions and get in tune with your purpose. Let that clarity bring more meaning into your present.
Sometimes people confuse passion and strength and wonder which to follow – passion or strength? Many have been told to “follow their hearts” or their “passions” when faced with making a decision. Still others suggest that when faced with a life or career decision, people should base their decision on their strengths. After all, if you have passion for something but lack mission-critical strengths, you will struggle. Have an abundance of strength and skills and your success is practically assured.
What is needed is balance. If you can find a position that both interests and attracts you, while demanding your strengths and offering opportunities to improve your weakness, you will have found the balance that the most successful enjoy.
This can also be applied to organisations. Most businesses started with an entrepreneur’s passion and energy applied to identifying an unmet need, gaps that needed to be addressed or opportunities for improvement. In 1985, there were a number of internet search engines. Did the world need another search engine? The answer wasn’t so obvious. The ones that existed were a vast improvement over the previous situation where knowledge was locked up in textbooks and encyclopedias. Two entrepreneurs had a passion for making it easy to find information, they saw how difficult it was to get to the exact information one needed on the internet, and they wanted to change that. They had strengths in software design and development and by combining that with a passion to make it easy to find information, the company we now know as Google was born.
The journey towards going Beyond Limits, begins with a first step – that of determining what your purpose is. To succeed, you must connect with your purpose. Only then can you identify the steps you need to take to emerge as a winner.
Juliet Ehimuan is Country Director leading Google’s business strategy in West Africa. She was named by Forbes as one of the top 20 power women in Africa, by the London Business School as one of 30 people changing the world; and featured in the BBC Africa Power Women series, and on CNN Innovate Africa. She is a globally respected business executive, thought leader, and a leading voice on Innovation, Transformation, and Leadership. She has received numerous awards for outstanding contribution to the digital landscape in Africa. Juliet is an Executive Coach and a member of the Forbes Coaches Council. She is the Founder of Beyond Limits Africa, a leadership and organisational capacity building initiative; through which she provides coaching and leadership masterclasses.Connect with her on social @jehimuan.