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July 2009

Power of Purpose

What is purpose anyway? The search for purpose has become very popular these days.  But why is is so powerful when we find it?

Purpose is defined as:

  1. Something one intends to get or do; intention; aim.
  2. Resolution; determination.
  3. The object for which something exists or is done; end in view.

In the big picture of our lives, purpose can take the form of a "life purpose" or "calling"-that thing which we were born to do.  In the short term, living with purpose is simply making the most of our day to day choices in an effort to either be more productive or to live out our "purpose", keeping the end in mind. 

Either way you look at it, living with a sense of purpose provides an element of motivation to our lives. Purpose can be what makes us jump out of bed in the morning!

The power of purpose is that it facilitates change.

Purpose propels us forward and transforms an ordinary life into an exceptional life. In short, purpose drives progress.  What is your purpose?

Authentic Living

"Sometimes the fear of finding out who we really are, underneath all our masks and defenses, causes us to resist being authentic." - Neil Clark Warren, Finding Contentment

Do you know who you truly are? If you know, are you living and leading accordingly? One of the most freeing things a person can do is to live according to their core values. Unfortunately, I've found through working with clients that most of us have never consciously worked with our values. Those who have may be unsure if their lives line up with them.

Core values are:

  • Those 3-5 beliefs or convictions worth so much to us that we can't live without them.
  • The reasons we do what we do, our "habits of the heart".

When our lives are out of alignment with our values (or when we live according to a value imposed upon us by someone else), we experience stress, frustration and discontentment. On the contrary, authenticity produces peace and fulfillment. What will you do or what have you done to obtain peace and fulfillment in your life?

Comment and let us know what you think.

Keys to Listening Well

How good of a listener are you?  How pure is the attention you give to another? We've all been doing some form of listening since we were kids. But have we just been honing bad habits all of these years?

As adults we've probably learned some outward skills of listening, also known as "active listening". These are the techniques of paraphrasing, posture and nodding the head, etc. In other words we've all been trained in our leadership development classes how to better PRETEND that we are listening. In reality, we may not be very good listeners at all. We pretend to listen, giving all of the right outward cues, but inside our heads we are having another conversation.

The key to listening well is to focus on what we do on the inside, rather than the outside, and eliminate those side conversations in our heads. It is easy to get distracted, but we can do something about it by being aware of what triggers our distraction.

Here are some quick tips to sharpen your listening skills that you can use right away:

  • Listen for curiosity rather than diagnosis. When you find yourself starting to diagnose someone's problem, think about what made you start to do that and ask a question about that.
  • Eliminate environmental distractions. Silence the phone.  Mute the email alarm. Clear away the clutter that makes your mind wander.

Remember, listening starts and ends in our heads. With a little discipline and practice, we can all really listen and listen well.

Share your thoughts: What are some techniques you find helpful for listening?

Learning to Lead

Did you know that all of us were born to lead? All of us have someone who looks up to us in our unique spheres of influence. However, how many of us were ever taught how to lead?

I've been involved in a variety of leadership environments over the years, ranging from corporate to not-for-profit. Now that I am a trained coach, I wish I would have had the leadership skills then that I do now.

Coaching and leadership go hand in hand because coaching skills equate to good leadership skills. Consider the four primary skill competencies of a professional coach:

  1. Listening
  2. Creating Awareness/Asking Questions
  3. Planning/Goal Setting
  4. Managing Progress/Accountability

How can proficiency in these skills benefit you? How can you gain proficiency in these skills? First of all, start with a foundational skill and build upon it. Of course, you could always hire a coach!

My suggestion is to start with the foundational skill of listening.  Good coaching, leadership and relationships all start with good listening skills.  If we can listen well, we can set ourselves up for success with the rest.

What skills do you find are essential for good leadership?  Let us hear from you!