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Purpose for Business Experts – 4 Levels of Purpose

Purpose for Business Experts 

Purpose for business experts is a hot topic right now. I post regularly on LinkedIn, and it seems like everyone over there is talking about purpose.

But what I’ve noticed is that most people are focusing on only one part of purpose and not all four parts.

In this post, I’ll share the four levels of purpose so you can be truly inspired at work and be more successful and more satisfied at the same time.

Plus, I’ll share three strategies you can use to create your purpose for business experts.

My Purpose

To use as an example through this post, let me share my purpose…

My purpose is to create new worlds. I’m an ideas guy. It’s the thing I enjoy most and the area where I believe I can make the biggest difference to others. Creating new worlds is all about looking at the world in different ways and creating new possibilities and fresh opportunities. 

That’s why creating and sharing blog posts and videos like this is so inspiring for me – it’s an expression of my purpose.

What is Purpose?

To begin, we need to define what we we’re talking about here: what is ‘purpose’?

There are lots of different definitions out there. I think there are two important aspects here.

What is Purpose

First, at a practical level, your purpose is your intention: What do you want to have happen? For instance, my purpose in creating and sharing this video is to educate, inspire and present new ideas.

Second, at a deeper level, the French have a term ‘raison d’etre’. It literally means your ‘reason for being’.  It asks: ‘Why do you exist’? That’s a deep philosophical question and if you’re not careful you can get lost thinking about it.

There are two ways to relate to this.

1 Destiny and Purpose

If you believe you have a pre-planned destiny, then you need to find the right purpose. That may take some soul-searching.

2 A Created Purpose

The alternative is much easier, it’s to create your purpose. And given it is your life, you can create any purpose that you want. It is also how purpose relates to business. It starts with a creative conversation to explore the possibilities and concludes with a declaration that this is our purpose. 

Why is Purpose important?

There is an old story about three people on a building site. One was stacking bricks; one was building a wall and the other was building a cathedral to celebrate his god. Which one do you think was the most inspired?

Why Purpose is Important

Purpose is important because it is one way to bring meaning and inspiration to your work. For many people this is missing from their work, thus the interest in purpose. 

Ultimately, one of the most powerful and most basic ways to be successful in any field is the ability to stick at your tasks for longer. Purpose lets you do that.

Why Purpose for Business Experts is important 

Purpose for business experts is important for two fundamental reasons.

1 Strategic Decision Making

The first is for you in defining and running your business. Having a clear purpose is your context or reference point for making strategic decisions. For me, when I was thinking about creating all these blog posts and videos on YouTube, it was easy to ask myself: Does this fit with my purpose of creating new worlds from the ideas I share? That’s a no-brainer – of course, it does. This is critical if I want to be inspired every day and do work that is meaningful to me.

2 Serving Your Clients

The second reason purpose is important for business experts is for your clients. When I’m working with my clients, I want to know what’s important to them so I can use that reference point or context to share appropriate solutions with them. If I know my client is committed to zero carbon emissions, then we can focus more quickly on a smaller range of better solutions compared to someone else who doesn’t care about climate change in the same way.

Purpose For Business Experts

The Four Levels of Purpose

The big problem for many people around their purpose is that they only deal with one level of purpose – the Grand Vision (which we’ll discuss further in a moment).

This answers the question, ‘What is my purpose?’

But it doesn’t answer the question, ‘How does our purpose exist?’ or ‘How do we live purposefully?’ This addresses a further and deeper meaning of the French phrase ‘raison d’etre’ or ‘reason for being’. 

The Four Levels of Purpose is one part WHAT and three parts HOW. It addresses both:

  • What is my purpose?
  • How does my purpose exist?

We need both if we are to live a purposeful life and to grow a purpose-led business. 

If you want more on ‘existence’ there is a whole area of philosophy that deals with this under the term ‘existentialism‘. This includes work by people such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Soren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. 

Now let’s look at the four levels of purpose for business experts – the WHAT and the HOW.

1: The Grand Vision

The first level of purpose is the Grand Vision. and there are two types of grand visions.

The Purpose Mission

The first type is a specific mission, a result or a big goal. For example, to end hunger on the planet, to stop racism or to promote wellbeing.

Typically, where this is different to a goal, or a mission is that it is a lifelong pursuit and not something that can be achieved. For instance, to compete at the Olympic Games can be achieved and, in most sports, once you reach 30 or more years of age, you’re likely to stop competing. That’s a goal, not a purpose.

The Purpose Process 

The second type is a process statement.  

That’s where I consider my example, to create new worlds. Yes, there is a result there (a new world) but from my perspective, it is more about generating ongoing ideas and insights to have this happen.

For many people, this is where the purpose conversation starts and stops. But if your purpose stops here, then it is really just a dream or a fantasy unless you build in the other three levels of purpose.

2: The Heroic Project

The second level of purpose for business experts is the Heroic Project.

We want to bring our purpose to life. To do this, we need to convert and translate our abstract purpose into action and results to make it more real and more concrete. And given our purpose is important to our identity and our motivation, we don’t want just any old project.

Instead, we want to create heroic projects. The point here is not about ego and being the hero. Instead, a heroic project is intended to stretch us and shape our identity.

For me, I have created a Heroic Project around my YouTube videos of attracting one million views to my channel. This is a benchmark for me that will show that I’ve helped a lot of people and created new worlds for some of them along the way.

3: Habits and Rituals 

The third level of purpose for business experts are habits and rituals.

This is important because we want to translate our purpose into daily actions that have meaning.

  • Habits are actions we do on a regular basis.
  • Rituals are habits we do on a regular basis that have an elevated level of meaning, which means we’re more likely to be inspired by them. Here are Seven Examples of Rituals you can use in your life and your business. 

For instance, brushing your teeth is a habit but unlikely to be a ritual – unless your purpose is to bring shiny white teeth to the world. 

In contrast, for me, I could say that when I hit the magic ‘publish’ button on a blog post like this one or on YouTube to launch a new video is a ritual for me because it is tied to my purpose of creating new worlds. (Yes, I do a little happy dance to mark this special occasion.)

4: Paying Attention

The fourth level of purpose for business experts is to pay attention.  

This is what we mean by ‘being purposeful’. We are putting our attention on something that is important to us.

This shifts our focus from ‘doing our purpose’ to ‘being our purpose’ and it puts an emphasis on mindfulness.  

Importantly, this also translates our lofty and perhaps abstract purpose statement into something we can bring to the world in every moment of every day regardless of what activity we are doing.

For me, I have a practice of paying attention to the world I am creating for myself as I go through my day. All I need to ask is: What world am I creating for myself right now?

Summary: Purpose for Business Experts

Let’s wrap up what we’ve covered here.

  • A simple definition of purpose is that it is our intention. It’s what we want to have happen.
  • Our Purpose is important because it provides a context that provides meaning and inspiration.
  • Also, Purpose is important for business experts to be inspired by meaningful work that we can share with our clients.

 The four levels are important if we want to translate the WHAT into HOW and to enable us to live purposefully every day.

Four Levels of Purpose

 The four levels of purpose are:

  1. The grand vision as a direction or context to operate from
  2. The heroic project to have us work toward a significant result
  3. Our habits and rituals – taking specific meaningful actions that align with our purpose
  4. Paying attention and being purposeful in the moment

Three Strategies to Create Your Purpose

Previously, I shared a blog post and video called Build Your Business Expertise.

In that video and blog post, I shared three general principles for how to build your business expertise.

Those same principles apply here. To create your purpose, you are going to need one of three things.

1 Know Thyself

The first strategy to create your purpose is to know thyself.

Your purpose is a very powerful and very personal thing. If you don’t know who you are in terms of your likes and dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses and your values then it’s more than likely you wouldn’t recognise your purpose if it hit you in the face.

2 Grow Thyself 

The second strategy to create your purpose is to grow thyself.

The single most important thing you can do to create almost anything is to be in action. Creativity needs triggers. If you’re sitting around staring at your navel, trying to work things out, you’ll get nowhere.

Grow thyself means get out there and take on a project that has you learning or teaching something. At the very least, go out and talk to other people about their purpose. As you talk, you might just find your own purpose.  To help you start that conversation, share this video with them as a talking point.

3 Claim Thyself

The third strategy to create your purpose is to claim thyself.

I’ve had a lot of coaching conversations with clients about their purpose. And the consistent thread is that their purpose is staring them in the face, and they didn’t recognise it. More to the point, they had an inkling about what it was, but they were too scared to claim it as their purpose because they didn’t want to get it wrong.

I suggest that if you have even a small thought that ‘this might be my purpose’ then grab that with both hands, run with it and live with it until you refine it or change it into something better.

If you have any questions about any of this, add a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.

Be inspired and do meaningful work by living purposefully today.

 

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2 Responses to Purpose for Business Experts – 4 Levels of Purpose

  1. Helena Steel August 24, 2021 at 10:47 am #

    Well done for the Purpose work Geoff. Your summary is fabulous. It is always a dilemma for my career coaching clients. I would add that we don’t have just one purpose, but many. Purpose is determined by time and place in in my experience. Your purpose changes. What might be an early career purpose, manifests itself into a higher purpose down to the track.

    • Geoff McDonald August 24, 2021 at 2:18 pm #

      Great point, Helena. I think that’s why a lot of people struggle with purpose – they try to get it right for the rest of their lives and that’s a recipe for failure. Your suggestion is much more realistic and more viable. And as you say, ‘manifests itself into a higher purpose down the track’.

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