What do you stand for? Six ways to find your purpose as a leader
It's been a tough year for leaders as they grapple with health, economic, social and political challenges all at once. Now, more than ever, leaders need to know what they stand for. Author and entrepreneur Mindy Gibbins-Klein outlines six ways to find your purpose
Who on earth would sign up to be a leader? It is fraught with challenges and offers no guarantees. The balancing act of being responsible for other people’s livelihoods and welfare, as well as achieving business targets, working more hours than ever, in an increasingly stressful environment and society… it’s madness.
However, the glory of building something important, something to be proud of: that’s the thing that keeps most entrepreneurs, executives and leaders going. So what do you stand for? To establish this, you need to get to the heart of what you really think and believe. Many people believe they don’t know what they think. You can and should find out what you 'stand for'. It gives meaning to your life and work.
So here are six ways to find your purpose:
1. Stop focusing on the competition
Stop focusing on being the best in your industry. That means you will need to be up to speed on the industry and where you rank within it. Then you will need to continually monitor where you rank and how and what everyone else is doing.
You will need to spend precious time reading blogs, articles and books written by and about your competitors. I guarantee that at the end of that exercise you will feel worse, not better, about yourself, your business and your brand.
This simply distracts you from what you’re doing and what you want to achieve. Instead, keep your head down and produce more and more valuable content. Move on, move forward, move up the value chain.
2. Think for yourself
You have read books and articles. You have watched videos. You have consumed lots of information. Time to do your own thinking now. You can get help, you can discuss things with other people or you can clarify your thinking in journals, social media interactions and blog posts. The key thing is that you move from watching, reading and consuming, to crafting, producing and sharing your own unique vision and purpose.
3. Push your thinking
'Push your thinking' is a term we use at my companies with our clients. It stands for pushing yourself, and it also implies that you don’t allow yourself just one or two obvious responses to a question or solutions to an issue.
Don’t settle for the easy answer or the cliché. If you have a mentor, a good coach or a mastermind group, you can get someone else to help you push your thinking and hold yourself accountable. Don’t settle for anything less and don’t let yourself off the hook. This is where you get traction and where you separate yourself from the pack as a thoughtful, purpose-driven leader, sharing true thought leadership with the world.
I give you permission to see it and be thankful for the way you have chosen to be, think and act up till now, which has already helped and inspired so many people.
4. Ask yourself: What kind of leader are you committed to being?
If you can only work on a finite number of projects in your lifetime, choose to work on those that add tremendous value and create the massive shifts that are so sorely needed in our society today. Initiatives that make people think. Projects that encourage people to take action. Projects that make people feel good about themselves and their contribution to the planet. Ask yourself: What kind of work are you committed to doing? What kind of leader are you committed to being? Then let this guide you.
5. Have a positive impact
You must find a way to get positive, and remain positive, for yourself and others. You also need to stay fresh and unsullied by ideas not in tune with your own. Your self-worth allows you to create more and more value in the world, and other people can feel it. It’s a tangible thing. It feeds everything else. It is the energy that people feel when you interact with them. This is what needs to be protected. Your great feelings about and confidence in yourself and your special value. Everything else is secondary. Keep yourself pure. Pure means your own original, special uniqueness can shine through.
6. Don’t underestimate yourself
I occasionally use terms like life-changing with business audiences and there is always a mixed reaction. Many people don’t see themselves as someone who changes lives. But what if you aren’t seeing the impact you have on others, on the world? I think many of us underestimate the impact we can have, and do have.
Mindy Gibbins-Klein, pictured below, is a global thought leadership expert and founder of Panoma Press, REAL Thought Leaders and The Book Midwife®. Her latest book is The Thoughtful Leader