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I’ve been thinking about impact a lot recently. Working with some clients on their Purpose
prompted me to do some work on articulating my own “Why”.
When I worked in the corporate world, I never thought that I
was driven by this greater sense of Purpose. When I first read my own personal Strengths Profile, I was really
surprised to see words like “Mission” and “Legacy” coming up. The description of these Strengths sounded
big and important: “How you spend your time, your decisions and your future
plans are all aligned to your sense of mission and purpose in life” and “You
want to make a positive impact and create things that outlast you.”
I wasn’t 100% convinced at first and I’ll explain why.
Changing the World
My original feeling of disconnection with this concept of
Purpose was all down to my interpretation of the word “impact”. My own take was that, in order to have a
Purpose, your impact would need to change the world. It felt like it should be macro, like finding
a cure for cancer, eradicating poverty or saving the planet.
Yes, I want to have a positive impact, but my work is very
much at the individual level and it didn’t feel broad enough or important
enough. It felt very micro.
I have worked in organisations which are very
purpose-led. The people heading up these
organisations were definitely on a mission to change the world. It always felt like I was contributing to an
important thing, but I didn’t always feel aligned to the organisation’s or to
the founder’s Purpose. I thought that this
made me, somehow, not personally purposeful.
Start with Why
I have used Simon Sinek’s “find your why” process with 121
coaching clients for a while but it wasn’t until recently that I worked through
the process myself which culminated in my own Why statement.
It is an interesting and quite lengthy process. It starts with you telling your listening
partner stories from your life which had a great impact on you and on how your
life turned out. Your listening partner
looks for key themes and from those themes, you mutually define your Why
This statement comprises two halves: your contribution and
And guess what I learned?
Micro impacts are OK. Micro impacts can change people’s lives. Micro impacts can be far-reaching.
It was then I remembered a conversation I had with a good
friend when we were in our twenties. She
was telling me how she wanted to start her own business, make an impact on the
world, sell the business for £millions and then retire in her 30s. I very distinctly remember her saying: “I
don’t want to end up like my mother”.
I was confused. “Your
mother is an amazing person” I said. “She has devoted a large chunk of her life to working with disabled
children locally and making a difference in her community”. My friend was not impressed. The impact was too small. She wanted to have a bigger personal impact. I remember thinking that I would love to make the positive impact her mother had made, even if only for a handful of
On a Mission
When I finally articulated my Why statement, it felt
amazing. All the work I subsequently did
that week felt purposeful, connected, energising, motivating, meaningful and enjoyable.
I love my micro impact and I’m working on ways that I can create
ripples that impact as many people as possible. This is my mission and it may just turn out to be my legacy!
If you’re interested in finding your Why, let me
know. At the moment this is a 121
offering. However, I am also looking to
run some group programmes later in the year so let me know if you’d be interested
and I can keep you posted!
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