© Photo by Brian Hurst on Unsplash
25. May 2023

How our purpose pursuit becomes more than an ego trip

Today, 'finding your purpose' has become an important part of effective self-leadership. In turn, a vast landscape of creative offerings has grown up to support us in this endeavour. But how does this square with the recent decline in life purpose, as evidenced (at least in the US) by double-digit declines in the importance of family, having children or being involved in community affairs? And, perhaps most worryingly, a significant decline in the value of 'tolerance of others'? This suggests a need to rethink how we can put more purpose back into our approaches to purpose development.

What makes the discovery of purpose more than an ego trip? This was one of the questions I had the privilege of discussing with Prof Dr Sebastian Kernbach from the University of St Gallen in our newly launched PLA podcast series. Sebastian is a researcher, expert and teacher in Life Design and the initiator of the brand new NEXT program for executives and professionals*. He and his team have been very successful in applying the Life Design methodology to purpose discussions and seminars.

Life Design seminars go beyond a wording exercise. Instead, we are encouraged to not just talk about our future, but to embody it through prototyping actions. During our podcast conversation, Sebastian gave many inspiring practical examples of how this works. Not surprisingly, his research shows that the Life Design approach supports personal growth and self-leadership and has an incredibly positive impact on various aspects of our well-being, whether we are executives, professionals, students, or even children.

Giving meaning to our lives is neither a luxury nor an ego trip. Ironically, it's through our personal search for meaning that we can best find connection and community with others. In our wildly diverse and sometimes overwhelmingly fast-paced modern societies, learning how to give direction and meaning to our lives is not an ego trip or a luxury. On the contrary: it is quite essential if we are to embrace the gift of free and responsible connectedness on which our democratic societies are built. In my conversation with Sebastian, I learned that the Life Design approach has great potential to allow the pursuit of purpose leads to more connectedness rather than emphasizing separation and self-interest. 

Thank you for your work, Sebastian and team! I am really thankful for all the people like you who are committed to a "next level" approach to the pursuit of purpose, which gives us the skills to discover how we can make a conscious and meaningful contribution to other people's lives, and in doing so inherently increases our ethical awareness and courage, rather than undermining it.

*) You can read more about the University of St. Gallen's NEXT programme here and about Prof Dr Kernbach's work on Life Design here.

Dr. Eva Bilhuber
Dr. Eva Bilhuber
Human Facts AG
Founder | Managing Partner
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