Are you working in a purpose-driven way? We intuitively imagine working in a purpose-driven way with a feeling of being completely energized and passionately engaged. We drink-in effortlessly to our work without noticing it, feeling a strong push to stand up every morning highly-motivated, walking around with a great smile, having fun, partnering joyfully with others, and enjoying freedom and autonomy where we put our energy in. Lacking these feelings might be indeed the reason why a lot of people currently resign their high-paid jobs, particularly in large corporations. However, to expect this blossoming side to be the only side of working in a purpose-driven manner might lead to wrong career and hiring decisions.
The truth about working in a purpose-driven way. Living more purposefully means to be radically responsible for your life. And what nobody dares to tell you is that it comes with a lot of sacrifices. Sacrificing the status quo and certainty about current beliefs. It means to courageously take the risk, jumping into the unknown and being driven by continuously doing things better to progress towards a better future. It comes with the willingness to change, letting go of the past, moving out of one’s comfort-zone, and sometimes, even letting go of safe income, status and privileges. It means entering conflicts, overcoming difficulties, and the courage to question oneself and learn from failures and setbacks instead of blaming others. As a result, purpose-driven people seem to have a lot in common with high performance-seeking people.
Purpose-driven people are high performance-driven people. I agree with leadership expert David Burkus that the 4 things he outlines as characteristics of high-performers in his video are the same that purpose-driven people display: 1) They are in constant search of doing things better and becoming better. 2) They play to their strengths. Because they know that’s where they can contribute best and create the most impact. 3) Who they serve is important. They particularly care about who benefits from their work. And 4) They track their progress. Because it’s key for them to become constantly better. In that way, Steve Jobs and Mother Theresa might have had much in common. For others, these qualities can become pretty obsessive, exhausting and difficult to handle. However, while high-performers tend to become unpopular, purpose-driven people seem to get much more sympathy.
The difference makes their “why.” Although purpose-driven people are displaying the same, sometimes challenging high-performing qualities, there is one huge difference. They differ in why they engage in these qualities. And that changes all for their surroundings. Whereas most high-performers engage in order to reach a better career position, purpose-driven people use all their energies to serve a better life for others. With this intention, the 4 high-performing qualities take on a totally different spin: striving to do things better is not to win or lose against others, but to not give up in finding new and better ways to make this world a better place. To play to their strengths is not about feeling entitled to certain tasks but related to focusing on where they can make their greatest impact in serving others. Who they serve is not related to personal advancement but motivated by serving as many people who could benefit from their strengths. And to track progress is not to become the best but to create the most impact and become better in making a positive difference in the lives of others.
Purpose-driven people need purpose-driven surroundings. Purpose-driven people can come across as pretty perfectionistic and never satisfied, e.g. polishing an idea, a product, a wording, or service endlessly or not accepting a “we can’t do anything about it” mentality. It’s about understanding that it is their conviction not their personality that makes them fight uncompromisingly for what serves others best. It’s rooted in their deeply-anchored life mission to contribute to humanity, and the wellbeing and welfare of others. This underlying intention is what the surrounding needs to understand and value. Although we might still recognize purpose-driven people sometimes as tiring as high-performers, we will also recognize how they inspire and encourage us to feel more permission to shine our light to this world - just as they shine theirs.