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How to Discover Your Purpose

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
- Steve Jobs US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Looking to live a meaningful life but feeling a bit confused and lost? Make it your purpose to find your purpose!

Our purpose is more like a compass than a path. And the compass consists of our values (the things that are most important to us).

Don’t stress-out about picking the “perfect” path! Instead, start simple and remember that our purpose is about GIVING, not getting!

Try applying this formula: Strengths + Passions + Service = Purpose!

Neuroscience research is revealing to us what common sense has been saying for a long time. Using our strengths on a daily basis will make us happier. But that alone isn’t enough. We need to exercise our strengths to do things that excite us! And when we combine our strengths with our passions, and find a way to “serve other people” in the process, we feel intrinsically motivated On Purpose!

For now, ask yourself these powerful questions:

  • What are my skills/talents? (your strengths)
  • What most excites me? (your passions)
  • And how can I serve the world taking action with them? (your purpose!)

List as many answers as possible for each question and then “purposely” play with putting them in the formula above, and using it as a compass to navigate a compelling future.

“Your work is to discover your work, and then, with all your heart, to give yourself to it.”
- Buddha

Job security has gone out the widow! The future is not the same anymore. Getting ahead in a volatile and unpredictable economy means engaging in a self- makeover with new social media and highly developed emotional intelligence skills. Don’t fear change – embrace it!

Enlightened career changers in these continually volatile times are aware of the need for resilience, and reinventing themselves to thrive and flourish in the new economy. Now career changers must rebound and take the next steps for a sustainable future. They must refocus, get inspired and be creative to align their purpose and passion with the ever-changing needs of the marketplace.

You need the courage and reassurance that the right actions will help you reach your goals. Success awaits those who remain optimistic and creatively pursue new and rewarding career directions.

I was recently working with one of my San Francisco Bay Area executive coaching clients. We talked about his focusing on discovering a better sense of self including his core values and identity. He was energized and motivated to ignite his entrepreneurial spirit.

Most importantly we focused on his discovering a sense of purpose...what was truly important to him. He pondered on the following powerful questions. Who am I and what are my core values? What is most meaningful in my life? What am I trying to do with my life? Do I feel fulfilled in my life? Do I use my talents to the fullest extent? Am I realizing my dreams?

My executive/career coaching client put the following powerful questions on a Post-it attached to his computer monitor. The questions served as a daily reminder to him that positively reinventing yourself can bring happiness and career fulfillment.

  • If it was impossible to fail, what would be different in my career?
  • What type of job/career would create meaning in my life?
  • What type of company would be the best fit for me?
  • What kind of company culture would ignite my passion?
  • What type of boss/co-workers/team would I like to have?
  • How would I create work/life balance?
  • Would I be happier as an entrepreneur starting my own business?
  • How much money is enough for me?

The case study that follows further elucidates the coaching process and my approach to help clients reinvent their careers.

Executive/Career Coaching Case Study

We are all trying to understand and cope with the enormous changes in our work and personal lives. Mostly we react in a positive and productive manner. However, many people are describing their lives as so busy, working so many hours, trying to balance work and personal lives that we often feel physically and emotionally exhausted.

I work as a consulting psychologist and executive/career coach specializing in helping leaders and lawyers with work- related problems. Let me tell you a brief story about a company leader I helped with a career transition.

Steve was the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at a San Francisco Bay Area financial institution. He was seen as a high potential during his initial years at the company. Steve was referred by the Director of Human Resources for career coaching. Several employees had given 360 degree feedback that Steve was arrogant and often condescending to others contributing to a negative work climate. 

Steve’s behavior was causing a morale program at work. They described the CFO as being critical and demanding. The culture of the company valued openness and collaboration. The company truly valued Steve and wanted him to be happy whether at this job or whatever he might choose to pursue.

At our first coaching meeting, Steve appeared to be fatigued, de-moralized, dispirited, sleep-deprived, and burned out. He described himself poignantly… “My soul was asleep on the job”. As we explored his situation, Steve related how the company had been through two mergers. There was the imminent possibility of another downsizing (euphemism for firing people).

Steve as well as the other “survivors” was overloaded with work. He had resisted most of the changes, lacked motivation and his feelings were all “bottled up”. Steve was frankly not fully engaged. As I got to know Steve better, it became apparent that he had some good leadership skills, but was unhappy in his work resulting in making coworkers miserable.

Steve’s stated goal was to improve his emotional intelligence and discover work that he loved. The best way to build a healthy personality involves understanding yourself and your emotions. He wanted to become more engaged at work, but eventually to transition into a new career.

The client brainstormed various options on how he could achieve his goals. He asked if I could recommend an article on emotional intelligence and agreed to take the BarOn EQ-i emotional intelligence assessment. Steve scored low in self-awareness, happiness and stress tolerance. Our initial work focused on Steve discovering a better sense of self including his core values and identity.

Our career coaching work together transitioned into Steve learning how to delegate and collaborate with others as a way of building relationships and establishing trust. Considering the work overload, Steve felt it was important for him to learn to prioritize work based on what was truly important. We began to talk about his values and interests and possible career options.

The client discussed the obstacles that might arise in terms of his resistance to change. We worked on Steve challenging his negative thinking about change which was the major obstacle getting in his way.

I coached Steve by role playing how the obstacles, in this case negative thinking could be managed. He learned to challenge his limiting belief by asking himself “Is it true that I am stuck and have no options?” 

Steve learned to focus his energy on what he could control and to live in the present moment. I asked him what he would like to end (corporate job) and explored future possibilities. 

Most importantly we focused on Steve discovering a sense of purpose...what was truly important to him. Who am I and what are my core values? What is most meaningful in my life? What am I trying to do with my life? .Do I feel fulfilled in my life? Do I use my talents to the fullest extent? Am I realizing my dreams?

As I got to know Steve better, I discovered that Steve’s real childhood love was art. And that he had gotten into finance in his 20’s as a way of making a living when he first moved to the Bay Area.

Steve created the following homework exercises that would help him develop his emotional intelligence and create the self-insight needed for a career transition. He agreed to begin the following week.
1.  Practice mindfulness meditation. 
2.  Write in my journal. 
3.  Read Victor Frankel's "Man's Search for Meaning", Po Bronson's "What Should I Do with My Life", and “Work With Passion” by Nancy Anderson.

After a few months of career coaching, the client had gained sufficient self-awareness and was more open to change. Steve decided to dosomething pretty dramatic. Steve told me he was taking a vacation and going to Costa Rica to surf!

I was surprised that he was passionate about surfing as it seemed out of character. Upon his return, he told me how he had come upon the idea of starting a business designing surfboards!

What wonderful synergy of taking action, tapping into his essence - the love of art and creating an entrepreneurial business of his own. Finally, he was leveraging his considerable strengths of resourcefulness, love of adventure and creativity.

Steve continued to work for the company, but with a new sense of commitment. He was much more positive and happy. 360-degree feedback from co-workers indicated that he had developed more collaborative work relationships. He continued to work part-time on his decorating surfboards business with the goal to transition into his own business in a couple of years and move to Costa Rica.

Summary

If you want success in your career, you must have confidence in your ability to solve problems, practice independent thinking and decision-making and be determined to find the answers. Don't give up! Start with a thorough assessment of your values, skills, interests and abilities.

Focus your efforts on your areas of interests and abilities, and develop an action plan by specifying goals and objectives. It is only by focusing on your strengths that you can truly obtain fulfillment and success in your career. A professional executive/ career coach can provide objective feedback to help keep you motivated and on-track.

The secret to a resilient life in our kind of world is in knowing how to recycle yourself, over and over, letting go of what is no longer you, taking on new strengths, and shaping new chapters for your life, guided by your own emerging vision.
- Frederich Hudson, Pamela McLean

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development to grow emotionally intelligent leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders who need to reinvent themselves? Enlightened leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Do I have the confidence to reinvent myself and grow by discovering my purpose?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching as part of their transformational peak performance leadership development program.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help you reinvent yourself. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping  Innovative Companies Assess, Select, Coach and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Strategic Talent Management; Leadership Development; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; and Leadership & Team Building Retreats

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and trusted advisor to senior leadership teams. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

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