Every individual has gifts and talents that can make a lasting impact. However, only a minority of people utilize those gifts and talents to live up to their full potential. Tying your gifts and talents with your personal purpose not only leads to a more successful career, but a significant one. Many Boomers, as they begin to approach the end of their career, are looking for greater significance. Interestingly, many Millennials, at the other end of their careers, are also looking for significance right out of the gate. As leaders, helping others find their passions and help them have significance at work are becoming bigger parts of our job. And as Millennials continue to make up an increasing part of our workforce, this trend will only become more important.
Let’s start with a story. Jesse is a director at a global technology company, is in his early thirties, and is part of their emerging leader program. As a child, Jesse really wanted to be a teacher. He even went as far as getting his parents to put a blackboard in his room so that he could play “pretend teacher”.
So what’s your story? The best way to find out is to pause and ponder over some key questions. It is not necessary to have all the answers, but it is important to think through questions like:
• How have your passion and interests evolved to shape your purpose? How do they connect to your interests and dreams from your early days?
• What pursuits would inspire and give meaning to you?
• What impact would you like to make on others?
I have observed first hand that people with a sense of purpose are more engaged in their work, they realize their interests and passions, and they live out their personal values as they make a positive impact on others.
Mark Shearer, Executive Vice President and President Global SMB Solutions at Pitney Bowes says, “People who are connected to their passion can be spotted from a mile away. They unleash their energy to make our clients win”.
The four ‘S’s below help assess where you are today and help chart a path towards making a bigger impact.
Struggle: Life is a challenge with significant risks in meeting your needs.
Survival: The role is just for your security and it pays the bills.
Success: The role taps into your talent. Adds personal value by achieving or over achieving goals.
Significance: Creating excellence. Committed to a purpose that is bigger than you and is about impacting others.
How do you get started on your path to success or significance? We would like to review three key steps that also draw inspiration from Jesse’s story.
1) First, see where you are within the four ‘S’s above, and do a self-discovery to gain insights into your own gifts, talents, and passion. Identify an area of work where you have a strong desire and interest (Jesse went through a self -discovery and re-discovered his love of teaching).
2) Second, recognize your potential talents, as you are experiencing some degree of success (Jesse was solving client problems and enabling others to be effective).
3) Third, there needs to be strong validation of your impact (Jesse was getting excellent feedback from clients and was sought after for advice and guidance).
T.D. Jakes states it very succinctly and memorably: “If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose”.
Employee Surveys at different organizations have consistently shown that employees want to connect with the big picture. Over the last three years, I have worked with 200+ high-potential Millennials from 10 different countries. These individuals are looking to be engaged in meaningful work and opportunities for growth through mentoring and coaching. In my experience, I have seen that if you align people to do what they are passionate about, they will figure out how to create value.
Our busyness can get in the way of focusing on what really matters. What have been your best moments in life? You might be able to connect the dots looking back at what gives meaning to your life. Inspiring moments connect you with who you are. Realizing and accepting who you are and being true to who you are can empower you to make your dreams a reality, and reach the highest expression of yourself.
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