The Power of Purpose

Mark Twain captured the power of purpose in our lives when he expressed, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” The most influential leaders in the world are the leaders whose leadership of others is an extension of their purpose in life. Leadership is about a leader knowing their purpose in life, while bringing purpose to their organizations and those who follow them. Not all leaders are the same. They possess differences in their personalities and leadership styles. And yet, despite the differences, those who excel in leadership have a clear sense of purpose about their own lives, and clarity about the purpose and mission of their organizations. Many leadership discussions appropriately highlight the characteristics of leaders, but often overlook a leader’s sense of purpose, which is one of the most vital keys to successful leadership. Purpose-driven leaders inspire action in others through a contagious sense of purpose that links leaders to both their people, and to their mission.

The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who was imprisoned by his government for his criticisms of the Russian government wrote, “The secret of man’s being is not only to live, but to live for something definite. Without a firm idea of himself and the purpose of his life, man cannot live, and would sooner destroy himself than remain on earth without purpose.” All of the research that has been done evaluating the amount of purpose that exists in our lives has concluded that purpose is fundamental to our spiritual, physical and emotional health. Although not every leader shares the same value system, all leaders should be challenged to view their leadership of others as a calling to improve the quality of life for those they lead.

Outstanding leaders strive to be “meaning makers” with their people and teams. They are intentional about helping their people to find meaning and purpose in their work. Those who lead with purpose grasp the fundamental longing that all human beings have to become a part of something that is bigger than themselves. Purpose-driven leaders never lose sight of the priority of inspiring and motivating those that they lead to follow their leadership. Effective leaders know their own purpose in life, and prioritize leading their people into a discovery process to determine their purpose in life. Purposeful leaders have found their own voices, and encourage those they lead to find their voices in both their personal and professional lives.

There are many benefits to leading with purpose. Purpose-driven leaders exhibit proactive rather than reactive behaviors, remain focused on their priorities, and make better decisions. The most impactful benefit of leading with purpose is that purpose ignites passion in a leader. Passion is one of the most overlooked qualities that contributes to leadership success. The amount of passion that burns within a leader’s spirit determines the degree of energy, courage and perseverance that exists in their pursuit of achieving their mission. Passionate leaders will never need to be pushed by others to work hard, or to sacrifice for their cause. The existence of purpose and passion in the life of a leader will empower leaders to confront and overcome any challenge or obstacle they will ever face. Mark Twain was correct. The two most important days in our lives are the day we were born, and the day that we discover why we were born. If you are interested in taking your leadership to the next level, never forget that the leaders who lead best are those who lead with purpose and passion.