Purpose is powerful. When the going gets tough, simply being able to lock into why you started in the first place helps you to get through. You’ve heard me say it before, I even wrote a book on it. Crisis gets us to a place where we decide what we really want.
When crisis gets our attention, purpose moves into focus. In business, we are always faced with the question, ‘Is it worth it?’ when crisis strikes. And, when things get pressured, your team also need to be attuned to why, as they too might be asking, ‘Is it worth it?’
Being able to answer that question with a resounding “Yes” allows us to regroup and refocus and double back down on what we are good at. More importantly, it stops us quitting. Great never comes easy and that is why few push for it. Prioritising comfort over conviction might see us living a good life rather than a great one. If we go with conviction our HeartSet gives us the clarity in moments of crisis to keep moving forward even though we are in a storm. Storms pass and you can weather them, anchored to purpose.
When we lose sight of why we started in the first place we lose clarity and it’s harder to answer “Is it worth it?’ If we aren’t focussed, other things steal our attention along the way. The trick is to keep ‘on’ purpose, along with those around us. We need to keep the purpose conversation going, reminding people regularly of the Mission (the reason for existing), the Vision (the land we aim to take) and about Values (the compass for our choices). Make sure they are part of the conversation, particularly when it comes to collaboration.
Re-energising an organisation starts by allowing people ‘in’ and ‘often’. As leaders we feel we have to have all the answers, read all the right books and listen to all the podcasts. However, leading with purpose liberates you and places the responsibility on the collective. Leading as a collective requires collaboration and plenty of conversations. Communication is not about top down command, it’s about building a community of people who’ll care enough to make an impact.
Great conversations lead to collaboration. The best conversations we have concern purpose and intention, define how things need to be done and cement our roles in the team. It is simply not about ONE getting things done, it’s about ALL of us getting things won. Living purposefully is a team sport and once we all know our roles, we can play to our strengths and everyone wins.
In order to prioritise purpose we have to be honest with what we want. Answer these four questions to find the energy to power through crises.
1. What needs to change for you to be free?
As entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders there are often things that hold us back. We can feel trapped when we are not being true to purpose and we begin to resent the thing we are building rather than seeing it as a vehicle to deliver purpose.
When pressure is high, sometimes we only see the task ahead and we lose perspective. Freedom is having time to enjoy off the field activities, but we also need to learn to enjoy those pressured moments. Freedom is being you in the midst of purpose. It will take effort and you will get days where you have red eyes, either from strain or tears but you also have the power to impact the people your product or service delivers.
We feel trapped when we are not doing the thing which enables us to have the most impact. So we employ other people to help and give them the tools to do what we are not good at. I am not a website designer, there are people that do that better than me. Do I love our websites? YES, but I focus on message, the web designers focus on method and that brings momentum.
When I’m in the wrong space, I get frustrated. However, when I’m creating impact, wow! It gives me the fuel to keep driving.
2. When can you make that change?
The best place to start was yesterday and the next best place is today! It all begins with a choice to be in it for the long haul. Yes, you may have survived the last few years but now you want to transition into a place of thriving rather than just surviving. It will take some more investment of time, talent and treasure to see the results you desire. After all, you won’t get a harvest on seeds you don’t plant.
We want the BIG win to change everything, but if we plant the seeds of change in the right soil we’ll be able to to control the environment. When you take risks on people, things won’t be perfect but they should progress. Making the change is trusting everyone with purpose and together we bring it to pass.
Choose your next meeting with your core team to prioritise purpose and ensure everyone in the business is aligned to it. If they are not, be brave enough to help them change roles, or even to consider a new chapter without you.
3. How do you help people see what you need them to see?
First we need to be happy to admit we don’t have all the answers and give other people a voice. When we started out, we might have won work because WE were good at something, but now as the business scales WE ALL need to be GREAT in our roles.
We need to share from our heart what drives us, the impact we are trying to create. The audience is right at the heart of any decision making and the team need to catch this care for the audience. The team need to care about the audience even more than the founders!
4. Who carries the vision in their heart?
Not everyone ‘get’s it’. There is a lot to be said for recruitment and asking the right questions up front, but sometimes organisations change and pivot and the reasons for joining get lost. I’ve heard countless business leaders say their team don’t always ‘catch it’ and they think something is wrong with the team. However, without a clear mission, vision and set of values it is easy to get lost. As a leader it is your responsibility to ensure they do ‘get it’ and that is the power of a strong brand.
Brand isn’t a logo, a look and feel and some pretty graphics. A solid brand equals a solid culture and a better quality website. When companies don’t invest in the process properly, retention of staff in the business is low. People leave because there is no cause to buy into. I’m amazed even today, at the lack of understanding of what brand building can really do for businesses. Brand is more than outward, it is vital to keep everyone united around the purpose we are striving to deliver.
We need to make room around the table for those that ‘get it’. We need to give them the space to bring their ideas to the table and build, even better than we ourselves did. Remember, as you scale, you become the facilitator not the main dude. Give people the space to grow. Make space for that entrepreneurial thinking as it helps you plan your legacy and innovate for the long term. I joke that some of the team like to be entrepreneurial with other people’s money, but in essence they do care about scale, growth, improvement and innovation. A healthy business needs to make room for it, and in reinvention, these things are key.
Purpose shouldn’t change but the way we deliver it HAS to.