Three Home Truths About Purpose-Led Work

Sep 06, 2022
Recently I saw an article on how to create purpose-led work.  It basically said to  reflect on what matters to you.  Then to find a company's purpose statement and check for their ESG commitment.  Look for a role in that area that is a match with the difference you want to make.  And that's it - you can do your purpose at work.
Having been on this journey for the last twenty two years, I wish it was that simple. 
Yes rationally as a general approach it makes sense.  But it misses the fundamental point that purpose is not a destination.  It is a journey you take. 
So here are some home truths that go against the grain about what it really takes to create purpose-led work:
1. Impact Is Not Purpose:
Having a positive impact in your work is not enough to feel that you have purpose or to succeed at it. Surprising I know.  But having worked with many leaders in the humanitarian field, intrapreneurs and social entrepreneurs, that came up again and again.
Often they were having a massive positive impact. But it was not enough to have them feel that what they were doing was meaningful.
What actually makes the difference is how much you are expressing your innate potential directed towards that impact you care most about.  So it is both about your own internal make up and the external impact you are having.
The rub is in activating your innate blueprint in the right way to do that.
2. Wanting To Do Good Is One Thing.  Actually Doing Good Is Another:   
This one I learnt whilst training experts going into war zones to help rebuild post conflict.  And I have seen it over and over working with intrapreneurs in organisations. 
If you actually want to make a positive impact, you will need Jedi level mastery at challenging the status quo, influencing and bringing about change.  Literally 'Don't Look Up' becomes your life. 
The problem is that most of us have been trained as good soldiers of the old and not brave builders of the new.  And that shift is massive in itself. We have to do serious work on ourselves to even get level one proficient at that. 
So the wisdom here is that you will need to grow massively in order to actually make a difference on the ground.
3. Every Job Needs To Become A Purpose-Led Job:
The old way of looking at things is that there were the 'for profit' roles where you made money and the 'for purpose' roles that did good.  
Now we are at a time when we are being called to a system change - where the two need to come together. So that we can, as businesses and in our work, make good money doing good - with a focus on people, planet and prosperity.
That means that we need to rethink every job. It is not about finding a specific purpose-led role. It is about creating one that integrates that mindset into every role.
So instead of finding a role out there, ask yourself 'how can you make your current role a purpose-led role?' And then go and speak to your manager to see how you can create that together.  
And the good news is that getting your boss on board will also give you practice in change-making - which helps with point 2 above ;)
What I can tell you is that purpose-led living, working and leading is not an easy journey.  But it is so very worthwhile. It will both challenge you to your core and be the most rewarding thing you will do. 
So please go for it - just do it with your eyes wide open as to what it really takes.  I hope this helps you with that.
Until Next Time,


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