Thursday, December 24, 2015

Purpose: Find Yours (Final/Part 3)

I just finished watching the Martin Scorsese movie Hugo with my daughters (ages 10 and 8 – the 8 year old is reading the book in her 2nd grade class). Once again my writing inspiration hit me in the least likely place for the last post in my Purpose: Find Yours series.

The quote image of this blog post underscores a key message in the movie: if you don’t follow your purpose, you will not be truly fulfilled and happy in all areas of your life. Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley) gambled everything to follow his passion, lost it, lived miserably for years and tearfully found it again in the least expected way. What a metaphor for life.

Now let’s get on with discovering your purpose final exercises. Reminder of the three activities that will lead you to success:

  1. Conversations with your network 
  2.  Reflection 
  3.  Writing

Final Exercise – purposely reordered:

a.     Review your source material - the stuff you’ve been writing about:
                                                    i.     Spot themes and patterns. When are you at your best? When are you at your worst? What turns you on?
b.     What are the qualities you admire in others that you need to or would like to develop in yourself?
c.      Think of your vision and mission are a narrative, timeline and storyline, with you as a character.
                                                    i.     What character or role do you want to play in an organization - not a job title, but more a character, like encourager, connector, problem solver, illuminator, strategizer, creator, etc.
d.     What are the characteristics of settings in which you could successfully be the character in your vision and mission? What would you need to play that role?
  • Reflection
a.     Once you’re done, run your statement(s) through these stress tests:
                                                    i.     New narrative for life - does this vision or mission suggest the qualities, characteristics, skills, resources you’ll need to move forward? Do they help suggest what will be hard about fulfilling it, etc.?
                                                  ii.     Stress tests for your vision, mission, purpose statement:
                                                 iii.     Vision: Is it clear how the world or your organization or the people you impact will be different after your work than before?
                                                 iv.     Mission: Is it clear what you do or who you are?
                                                   v.     Does it suggest several directions you could go into for your next stage?
                                                 vi.     Would your favorite job ever or a role you’ve envied pass muster?
                                               vii.     Would they work to help you select or weed out an industry, company, job or leader/team?
                                              viii.     If not, can you insert or take out words or concepts to make it pass the stress tests?
  • Conversations with your network
a.     Start talking to your trusted advisors and mentors. Use your new narrative. What are the reactions? Get feedback. Refine. Practice.
b.     Start interviewing. Whether for a new role at your current company, with a recruiter or during an in person interview for an opportunity that fits your mission and purpose statement. The more you practice, the more you will know and live your purpose statement. If it isn’t right, keep refining with the exercises outlined in the last three posts.

Finally, don’t get frustrated. I found my purpose. I feel it in my soul. It feels good. And I still have the hard work of staying focused and not getting distracted by the many shiny objects that come my way.

Commit to finding the meditative and focused time alone to focus on conversations with your network, reflection and writing. This will be a lifelong revisit to keep me on track.

“If you lose your purpose… it’s like you’re broken.” – Hugo Cabret

Here’s to doing the hard work. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Purpose: Find Yours (Part 2)

A career low point was the catalyst for finding my purpose as described in last week’s post: Purpose: Find Yours. Importantly, a low point not driven by a negative event, but a celebrated life changing acquisition.

As the next step in finding your purpose, recognize that if you don’t have purpose, even positive events feel empty.

To be clear, finding purpose doesn’t mean at the end you’re going to set off to the Himalayas, quit your job and join a commune. This is so much simpler. Purpose sits at the center of your life. It’s your daily gift to give. And it’s as powerful at home as it is at work.

Reminder of the three activities that will lead you to success:

  1. Conversations with your network
  2. Reflection
  3. Writing

Exercise #2:

  1.  Conversations with your network 
    • Look at your LinkedIn profile and take note of the skill endorsements your network has given you. These are ranked from most frequent to least based on an algorithm.
    • What are the top three skill endorsements? These are your strengths. Your gifts. What other people that have worked closely with you appreciate about you. 
    • Do you have endorsements for every job on your LinkedIn profile? If not, start asking. This is a great way to spark conversations with your network. The other benefit is that you will again get insights and themes into your strengths. The strengths that lead you to your purpose.
    • For both exercises, write down themes and patterns. 
  1. Reflection 
    • A book recommendation: StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. I have found this to be the best tool to discover your top 5 strengths. The book is a quick 30 minute read followed by a 20 minute online question/answer session using a scale of agree to disagree.
      • The key is to not overthink your answers. Read and answer. No second guessing. No trying to trick the system. Answer with the first thought that comes in your head.
      • I highly recommend buying the All 34 strengths assessment. This allows you to see all of your 34 strengths in rank order. Through live coaching sessions you will realize you can be good at something but it is not a strength. Your top 15 strengths give you energy. Your bottom 15 strengths drain your energy.
      • The amazon book summary says it all: Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? Chances are, you don't. All too often, our natural talents go untapped. From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to fixing our shortcomings than to developing our strengths.
    • If you have been through professional development courses such as DiSC or Myers-Briggs, revisit the output and materials. Again you will see themes around who you are, how you handle things and strengths. 
    • Reflect on the results. Write down themes and patterns. If you don’t like an outcome, ask yourself why? Instead of not wanting to be a certain way, turn your thinking around. You can’t change who you are but you can change how you use yourself!
  1. Writing 
    • Update your resume. This exercise will help you dig into past projects, wins and metrics. You’ll get good at summarizing key wins – handy in introductions to new people, networks, coworkers and interviews. I found some great templates for under $20 here. 
    • Update your LinkedIn profile. It’s your digital resume. A compliment to your paper resume, not a replica. Use LinkedIn as your SEO/SEM version of your resume. Your personal brand. A resume that can bring to life projects, videos and websites with live links. 
    • Are you starting to see themes develop? Write them down.
Now you’re close to having your personal narrative. The story that brought you to today.

To close this series, next week will be all about writing. Prompted writing. Writing that will make you think and reflect on the previous exercises. You will edit, revise and repeat several times. And then a breakthrough will occur… your one sentence purpose statement.

Until then, keep doing the hard work.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Purpose: Find Yours

I recently blogged about my experience going through an acquisition: M&A: Surviving the Arranged Marriage. That event has had a profound positive impact on my life.

That single experience caused me to hit rock bottom professionally. I realized how much of my self-worth was tied to work, my job title and colleague’s respect. Ouch. Especially disturbing when I looked at the jewels God has given me in my life, starting with my health, husband and two daughters. How had I been allocating my time and priorities so singularly? Hitting rock bottom made me take a giant step back and get serious about finding my purpose.

I’m going to spend the next few blogs teeing up exercises that will take you down that important journey of finding your purpose. I’ll introduce you to incredible people, books and websites that will inspire you to action. The journey will culminate into a singular purpose statement that will drive your life decisions and time investments.

We all have gifts. Gifts that give back to the people we interact with every day. Those gifts are spiritual, core to who we are and shaped by our life experiences.

Purpose sits at the center. It drives you. It motivates you. It fulfills you in all aspects of your life: spiritual, wife, mom, athlete, professional, volunteer, friend… the list goes on. For a little inspiration, read and watch (make sure to click on the video) what Jeff Weiner and Oprah say about purpose.

Warning: this is going to be work. Hard work. Mentally exhausting work.

There are three activities that will lead you to success:

  1. Conversations with your network 
  2. Reflection
  3. Writing

Exercise #1 - Start here:

  • Conversations with your network 
    • Pick 3 people that know you well and ask them to coffee, lunch or dinner. You should pick from multiple networks: friends, professional, spiritual, family.
    • Start with these questions:
      • What do you think my biggest strengths are?
      • Why did you hire/promote me? What’s your favorite story about me?
      • What do other people say I’m amazing at? 
    • The more you ask questions, listen and talk to your trusted network, the clearer you get about your purpose.
    • Listen for and write down the themes and stories you hear about your strengths.
  • Reflection 
    • Answer this question: What are you doing when time stands still?
    • Start with activities you do now. Then go back 10, 20, 30 years (school age, teens, twenties, etc.). You will start to see themes develop. You will remember stories your parents, siblings and family retell about your strengths. What you focus on. What you’re good at.

I’m inspired by my three purpose sensei to freely share my new tool box: Bill Carmody, Tara-Nicholle Nelson, and Seth Godin.

My purpose has never been so clear. With clarity comes action. With action comes fulfillment.

Look for Exercise #2 next week and let me know how it’s going as you do the hard work.