This week we have a guest blogger and fellow coach joining our ranks – Guy North. Guy knows us all at Maier pretty well to say the least, he fills a unique position of ‘client to consultant’ and we love having him as part of the team.

Guy was MD at Freeview, the biggest TV platform in the UK, where we worked together with him and his Exec team on a number of coaching and team development initiatives. Once Guy decided to venture into the world of Executive coaching, we were very keen to invite him to join us as an associate.

If you want to find out more about Guy’s coaching work with Maier please give us a call. But for now, a few words from Guy on the power of purpose.

What’s your purpose?

Over the course of many years, I invested a lot of time and effort agonising over the perfect words to define the purpose of the particular brand or organisation that I was working for at the time. This led to similar processes to craft the accompanying values and behaviours that would support this purpose. Interestingly, at no time during this part of my career did I invest a similar amount of time and effort in considering what my own purpose in life was and whether this was aligned with the organisations that I was working for. It may well have been happening sub-consciously, but it was not until I decided to take a break from the corporate world that I really focused on myself to work out what gets me out of bed in the morning.

For many people, and in particular leaders across the business world, the period of lockdown over the last six months has provided a similarly unique opportunity to take the time to look inwards and reflect on what their real purpose in life is.

There is certainly no shortage of stimulus to help in this quest and I would highlight three sources of inspiration that I have enjoyed: –

  • Ben Renshaw

    My fellow coach Ben Renshaw’s book Purpose is not only a great read but offers practical advice for discovering what your purpose is and why doing so is “probably the most significant part of your life’s journey.” He also offers thoughts on how your purpose translates into action across all aspects of life.

  • ikigai

    The Japanese notion of ikigai (roughly translated as “reason for being”) offers a similar voyage of self-discovery by drawing on lessons learned from communities where people have lived long, happy, and healthy lives. There is a simplicity and sense of calm that underpins ikagai that I think all of us could benefit from.

  • True North

    Maybe it’s just because of my name, but I am also drawn to Bill George’s idea of helping people find their “True North” which “represents who you are as a human being at your deepest level” and “is your orienting point – your fixed point in a spinning world – that helps you stay on track.”

Whatever the motivation, or the stimulus used, it can be truly enlightening and potentially transformational to work out what our own personal reason for being is and then articulate why it is we do what we do. Once discovered, if we are being true to ourselves it should also be the thread that drives and runs through everything that we do in all aspects of life. And so as we start to come out of lockdown, I have spoken to several leaders who have asked these questions of themselves over the last few months and considered whether the organisation they work for, and invest so much time and effort in, is compatible with their own personal sense of purpose. Where the answer is no, then any conflict between the two risks possible personal dissatisfaction, lower levels of motivation and potentially higher levels of stress.

Conversely, for others, such a period of reflection has reinforced that where they are working is exactly the right place to be and allows them to extend their own personal purpose through their working life. I enjoyed reading the BBC’s new Director General, Tim Davie’s first speech where he reflected that lockdown had provided him with the time to reinforce why he chose to work for the BBC in the first place and what it means to him personally. With such alignment, whatever the challenges that may lie ahead – and there are many for Tim – when we believe passionately in the cause or organisation that we work for it will be so much easier to remain motivated and energised to make a real difference.

These are questions that we should all be asking of ourselves as we look to align our outlook on life and business. It will not always be possible to do this and during a time when many businesses are struggling, people are losing their jobs and the economic outlook remains so uncertain, it may all seem a bit self-indulgent and irrelevant. However, whilst I am certainly not someone who regularly quotes Nietzsche, in his words:

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Ultimately, everyone has their own unique purpose, although not everyone is lucky enough to discover what it is. It is, however, definitely worth striving for, as in Ben Renshaw’s words:

“It provides you with an anchor, a sense of meaning and a clear focus in a disruptive environment. It inspires and guides your life”.

I for one definitely want a bit of that ….