“Purpose isn’t everything, but it trumps everything else.” – Roy Spence, It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For
In 2015, a business coaching client asked me to design and facilitate a session with their entire company during their annual retreat in Kauai to help them solve what was a very good (or a potentially really bad) problem.
This successful technology company needed to be prepared for responding to a great problem most companies only wish they had:
That was the good problem.
The bad problem? They lacked one very important building block in their company in order to achieve sustainable success, clear direction and growth: A clear, shared and inspiring Purpose Statement.
The owners of the company were in tune with their individual core values, knew their team and their market enough to know they could achieve lofty goals and make a huge impact on the industry for their partners and customers. For a consultant, this was a PLUS because they were already ahead of the game.
This wasn’t their first rodeo, and the co-founders know that in order to move forward everyone on the team needed to be aligned and ready for the ride. Because if they weren’t, and it got rough, they could lose their best talent and ruin the trust of their partners, and excellent reputation they worked so hard to create.
Individually and collectively, the team first needed to identify, verbalize, connect with their core values. Then some serious brainstorming needed to happen, which was framed by answering four key questions (more on that later).
Finally, to begin to craft the Purpose Statement, they needed to get BIG and answers needed to come from everyone in the room: “What difference do we make and for whom?”
Many of you may say, “Yes, but isn’t that the same as a Vision or a Mission Statement?” No, it’s different.
A Purpose is our strong WHY we get up in the morning. A purpose is inspiring. A Purpose includes everyone who works at the company. A Purpose connects individuals and core values of people and the culture of the organization. EVERYONE knows the purpose and knows how their role and unique talent they bring to their work everyday is a necessary for the company’s achievement of the Purpose.
A Purpose is never achieved, is not measurable and NOT attached to the bottom line. A Purpose is not “how we do things” or our strategy. WARNING: A Purpose is not for the faint of heart because you WILL be called to act on your Purpose (and everyone is watching).
Ultimately, everyone in the company is accountable for making decisions that are aligned with the Purpose, including which work we do, how we hire and fire people, and how we allocate our resources.
A company’s sustainable success today goes beyond the bottom line and a by having a clear, inspirational purpose you attract and keep great talent, and repel and easily de-select people who aren’t in alignment with your company’s Purpose. Because if your people aren’t on board, you may not survive your own success.
Purpose-driven companies thrive through challenges, good and bad. And, by the way, the most financially successful and thriving companies are driven first by a strong, clear Purpose. Bottom line is important or they wouldn’t survive, but it’s not at the top of the list.
Some examples of excellent, clear Purpose Statements:
Merck: To gain victory against disease and help mankind
Disney: To use our imaginations to bring happiness to millions
Johnson & Johnson: To alleviate pain and suffering
Merck, Disney and Johnson & Johnson, as well as my client, realized the process of identifying and crafting a compelling, inspiring, clear and meaningful Purpose Statement isn’t for the faint of heart and doesn’t happen in a half-day leadership workshop. It is a process, and not an event. It starts from the bottom up, the top down and is inspired by the strong WHY?’s of the founders, the team members who make it happen, core values and most of all the BIG DIFFERENCE they make and for whom.
Not only did this company successfully develop their clear Purpose Statement, they used it to guide their business decisions which, according to one of the partners, ultimately positioned the company to be acquired by Google.
Most importantly, the process of discovering their Purpose was inspiring, fun, engaging and they found that doing so connected people at a whole new level, one they need to be at in order to thrive through their next growth opportunity.
Is your company ready for your next “good problem?”
Share your favorite (or your own company’s) Purpose Statement below. How does it speak to you and align with your Purpose?
Have you ever had a moment where you’ve said something and as you’re saying it you kind of can’t believe what you’re saying? You’ve heard yourself telling the same story about how you endured a soul-sucking job, tolerated your obnoxious boss or felt exhausted and stuck in your business.
I was catching up with some old friends this weekend about some of our experiences and how our lives have changed over time. I was telling the story of when I first started my private counseling practice how I was contracted by Social Services to help clients who were “unmotivated and unwilling” (i.e., court ordered) referred by social services who were at risk of losing their children to the court system.
And especially about how I was on call 24/7 (remember pagers?) and we couldn’t take a family weekend away because there was no one else who could be “on call.” Sometimes I needed a police escort to my appointments. How every Monday morning I’d find myself thinking “why am I doing this?”.
Since the social services contract made up 90% of my private practice, I was very busy. I did the “crisis counselor” thing as an in-home-intensive-family-therapist for about 8 years. And for the last six of them I’d be thinking “why am I doing this?”
As I explained this it dawned on me that it had taken rather a long time for me to go from realizing I wasn’t enjoying it to actually doing something about it. Over 6 years. Wow. I was being held hostage by my own habits.
Much of the work I do today with business and executive coaching clients these days gives them a new perspective on their business and their impact. Shows them possibilities and solutions they just hadn’t thought of before.
But often, just like me on a Monday morning, they already know they need something different. Sometimes they even know what that different thing is. But they feel stuck. Held hostage by habits.
Because when you’ve done something for a long, long time it becomes part of you. It’s just what you do. For some, It’s who you become. A mindless habit. It’s easy. It’s familiar. It’s certain. You know how to do it. I’ve heard it all (and done it myself).
Even though you don’t like it, or it’s not really getting you the results you need, it’s a lot less scary than something completely new that might not work at all. Or might make you look silly. Or you might fail.
It took over six years (and a lot of encouragement from my husband) for me to get the courage to give up the certain income that came with that counseling contract and do what I really wanted to do.
Don’t let it take you that long to try something new in your business (or career).
You don’t have to change everything. But pick one thing you don’t think is working well and drop it for a few months and do something else instead. Stop saying “yes” to every request and say “let me give it some thought and I’ll get back to you.” Stop taking on new clients who don’t fit your ideal client profile and say “Thank you, but it’s not a good fit, let me refer you to someone who could be a better fit for your needs.”
If it works, keep doing it. If it doesn’t, try something else – sooner rather than later.
Not rocket science. Obvious on paper. Trickier to do in real life. Therefore the six years.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Don’t you waste six more years, or even six more months doing something that constantly drains you, leaves you feeling exhausted or fails to bring you joy.
What’s one small thing you are willing to do (or stop doing) today so you aren’t held hostage by habits?
Christina Haxton, MA LMFT is the Chief Potential Officer & Founder of Sustainable Leadership. An executive coach, business consultant and speaker, Christina assists busy business owners, high potential managers, key executives and CEOs to achieve successful work/life balance and peace of mind to become exceptional leaders who are built to last.
To apply for a confidential Strategy Session to explore your business or career goals or to inquire about a professional development program for your team, meeting or conference, contact Christina at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 387-8935.
Absolutely! But first, I have a confession …
Because I encourage my executive coaching clients to practice the values of transparency and humility, I will “walk my talk.”
Just last week I delivered a presentation to business owners about how to be more efficient with your mental energy, avoid overwhelm, manage multiple priorities and get things done.
My confession: I have been struggling with how to stop my procrastination pattern this week.
Thanks. I feel better already.
In order to interrupt the pattern of procrastination and take action, I used it as motivation for me to write.
I’ve heard from very smart, successful clients of mine doing (in fact, I did #6 AND #1 just today so maybe I should re-title this: “Top 10 Signs I Am Procrastinating.” Then I can add Personal Integrity to my values list, too).
Because awareness is the first step to stopping procrastination, or any bad habit, I made a Top 10 List of what my procrastination pattern looked like (and I borrowed a few from my coaching clients, too).
Are any familiar to you?
Top 10 Signs You Might Be Procrastinating:
10. Eating something non-nutritious so you can stay awake while you watch the online training (hopefully not mine!)
9. Checking your email every 3 minutes
8. Looking for inspiration from articles on the internet so you can write your own article (this is me today)
7. Reading just one more article about “how to do …” so you can start doing whatever it is you should be doing
6. Checking LinkedIn for who’s viewed your profile
5. Replying TY for RT’s to all of the Twitter Followers in the past 3 days
4. Looking on Facebook to find people you went to high school with you never really cared about anyway
3. Repairing and painting the wall where the puppy chewed a hole last week
2. Watching the news to find out the horrible things that are happening today
1. Editing the promotional page for your upcoming leadership program for the 7th time today so that it’s perfect before you send it out
I could take this a step farther and feel guilty or ashamed about being so imperfect – and we could take it one step beyond that and say I’m a hypocrite.
Yet I choose not to … I choose instead to offer my human-ness up to you as an opportunity to learn and grow, for myself and most importantly for you if you so choose to take on The “BS” Challenge!
What Do You Mean By BS?
It no longer surprises me when one of my executive coaching clients who is highly respected and extraordinarily successful by anyone’s standards discloses their deep, dark BS: “If people only knew what a fraud I am (or feel like at times), then the secret would be out … and I would finally be discovered for who I really am.”
After years of hearing this fear coming from powerful, influential business people, I now recognize where this shame and fear comes from – it comes from “BS.” BS is far easier to recognize when it comes from someone else’s mouth rather than from inside your own head.
Brain science can now tell us a lot about what motivates human beings (no matter what your title), and more importantly, what we will work very hard to avoid. Proven strategies based in neuroscience can help us to very quickly to re-wire our brain to get unstuck, solve the challenge de jour and keep the problem from rearing its head again – ever.
But first, we need to change at the level of thinking – and explore BS. Let’s use mine as an example.
BS: The SHOULDS and the SUPPOSED Tos
What do I mean by “BS?” (This is where you say “b*llsh*t”).
Okay … let’s go with that one.
BS also can refer to our “Belief System” which for the most part is full of BS.
Now I’ll put the shoe back on my own foot: If I believe I SHOULD NEVER PROCRASTINATE or I SHOULD NEVER WASTE MY TIME DOING SOMETHING UNPRODUCTIVE especially because what I assist others to do is to be productive, and if I procrastinate, then I must also be hypocrite.
Now who’s the one with the big dark hairy BS? That would be me. And I feel incongruent because “I don’t practice what I preach.”
Are these rules similar to what you believe, too?
If I choose to keep this BS, I will not feel creative, inspired or motivated. Just stuck and embarrassed if anyone finds out what I believe … and those feeling states will not get me very far today. The good news is now that I’m aware of the BS, or belief, I can challenge it, keep it or replace it if it’s holding me back. And if I can do it, so can you.
How do I stop the pattern of procrastinating? Simple. I asked myself a question to uncover and challenge my own BS, “What do I have to believe to feel embarrassed that I am procrastinating right now?”
One possible answer/belief is “I ‘should’ never procrastinate because I coach other people on how to stop procrastinating. I should have ALL the ANSWERS!”
The follow up response and question is “Fair enough … and what elsecould be true?”
Yet, what else is true is that I am human. So I used the strategy ofAcknowledgement … simply acknowledge the feeling … “right now I feel embarrassed that I am unmotivated and procrastinating.” Here is a surprising fact based in brain science: Simply labeling a feeling releases negative energy attached to that belief. And reduces it’s power by almost 50%.
Then I ask the third question, “Okay, so I feel embarrased. What’s one small thing I can do right now to get into action to feel more productive?” The easy answer comes quickly … and my answer was to start writing … just write for 5 minutes. And in 30 minutes, I am finishing this article.
What are some other things you do that keep you from spending time doing the things you could be doing to move you forward?
Do you have a deep, dark fear or belief that holds you back from resolving challenges or avoiding situations where you lack confidence?
If so, then I have good news for you: ACE! Take these 3 Step ACE Approach to Get Out of Procrastination and Into Action:
#1. Awareness of and then check out the BS –“What do I have to believe to feel frustrated, stuck, etc.? That could be true … and what else could be true?”
#2. Choice: You now have at least two choices. Go with the BS as if it’s the only
truth (which it isn’t), or consider other beliefs that could be true
#3. Execution: Find one small step you can take to get unstuck and into ACTION – “What is one small thing I can do right now?”
When was the last time you confronted (or at least checked out) the BS in your head that’s holding you back from being a productive and proactive leader?
If you are ready to check out your incongruent, competing or limiting beliefs and replace them with supporting beliefs so you can take action you need now to propel you forward in your leadership effectiveness, I would be honored to offer you any resources I have to assist you! Click here now to get more information or to arrange your confidential and complimentary Leadership Strategy Session.[social_sharing style=”style-6″ fb_like_url=”http://sustainable-leaders.com/?p=5677″ fb_color=”light” fb_lang=”en_US” fb_text=”like” fb_button_text=”Share” tw_text=”Top 10 Ways To Procrastinate And How To Quickly Stop Procrastinating ” tw_lang=”en” tw_url=”http://sustainable-leaders.com/?p=5677″ tw_name=”@christinahaxton” tw_button_text=”Share” g_url=”http://sustainable-leaders.com/?p=5677″ g_lang=”en-US” g_button_text=”Share” p_url=”http://sustainable-leaders.com/?p=5677″ linkedin_url=”http://sustainable-leaders.com/?p=5677″ linkedin_lang=”en_US” alignment=”center”]
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit
Thank you to Michael Hyatt, who published this inspirational poem, Author Anonymous on his blog over at Intentional Leadership.
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Watch your language!
To eliminate “lizard brain” (the emotional hijack caused by stress) avoid asking questions like “Why did you ..??” “WHY can’t you …?” “WHY don’t you …?” “WHY?” not only results in the listener feeling defensive, but also rarely matters when we are looking for solutions to a problem.
A better question effective leaders ask begins with “what” or “how” and helps people think. One example is asked with genuine curiosity (remember to manage your frustration first) … “What did you hope would happen by doing XYZ?”
Then, if you want people to trust you, shut up and listen.
To get the other 20 Ways to Eliminate Leadership Stress for You AND Your Team, click the link below to register for a free webinar:
Stress causes more than just physical symptoms. Did you know stress in the workplace erodes trust, productivity and creativity of you and your team?
Discover 21 Ways to Eliminate Stress to be able to do your best work, feel happier and more satisfied at the end of the day (and help your team do so, too!)
“Community happens when people serve selflessly to achieve a common purpose, neither for
duty nor cause, but because they truly love and care about the people they are serving with. When this transformation happens they will do, with joy, tasks that would otherwise be perceived as burdensome or even impossible.”
In the 90′s movie “City Slickers” the cowboy character, Curly, shares with Billy Crystal the secret to life (and business)…“ONE THING”.
Do you know your “one thing”? Does your organization have a “one thing”? Is there a word or idea that is at the center of everything you do…can you name it? Can the people in the organization name it? One of my favorite sayings is that unless you have a bigger “YES” it’s hard to say “NO” to the things that don’t really matter. Often times your “One Thing” provides that bigger “Yes”.
Click here to read the rest of Scott Mabry’s post on “Out West Leadership …” (and my response)
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Are you an emerging leader or newly promoted leader looking for a goal-setting strategy to make lasting, positive changes in your interpersonal or communication skills? Originally posted on Lead Change Blog
How many times have you promised yourself you’ll exercise today, start your diet tomorrow, finish writing that marketing plan by Friday (okay, that’s mine), only to “run out of time” and fail to keep your promise to yourself? All too often.
Now, how often do you make a business appointment with a client and fail to show up? Probably never.
Why is it we are willing to fail to follow through with commitments we make to ourselves, yet never in a million years would we “no show” for an appointment with a client or friend?
Here are two reasons: we are accountable to someone else and we want to avoid feeling embarrassed (or some other negative emotion). Accountability means we have some skin in the game … which can come in several different forms.
If money matters you will further increase the likelihood you will set and achieve your goals when you have a financial skin in the game. I have a business-coaching client who was required to improve his mental capacity, problem solving ability and focus to succeed in his next stage of business growth. However, he failed to follow through with an action step for three consecutive weeks. So we got creative and leveraged what was important to him … cold hard cash. Because of his financial and relational sense of responsibility, he never missed a coaching appointment with me, so he wrote me a check for his regular coaching session fee of $500.00. He said, “If I do this by next Tuesday, you give me back my check at our next session. If I don’t, no matter what the excuse, you cash the check and donate it to a local charity of your choice.” Another quality of his was he was very honest, however I could also verify whether he followed through or not.
What do you think happened? Right. He attended his class for several weeks in a row and now is in the routine. He also asked if I would keep the check in my file so he could keep it as a motivator to get other “someday goals” started.
Step #2: Announce publicly what you are working on and your specific plans to improve. In the next post, you’ll discover the secret of why this is the most important step.
If you aren’t yet ready to pick up the megaphone and make the public announcement, find a mentor, good friend or executive coach you can trust who will be honest with you yet who does not have anything to gain or lose by your action (or inaction).
Who will you ask to hold your feet to the fire? Contact me today to see if you are ready to take this next step.
Post your comments below (only if you have the courage to announce it publicly!)
What will it look like when you have skin in the game?
Stay tuned for the “how to” for Step #3: ACT[sharebox4 sharetext=”Share This Page”] [/sharebox4]
“Feedback” is a ‘four letter word’ and our brain reacts defensively when we simply hear the word. We put on the brakes and stop listening (see post on “Lizard Brain”)and our defenses go up automatically.
So how can you offer negative information so that someone can hear it, consider it and take action with a positive attitude instead of resentment?
First, starting with the positive, describe one or two recent actions that the person is doing right and well. Be specific about what they did or are doing and the difference it made for you, the team or the company.
Second, get permission to offer input with a question such as, “Would it be all right to give you some information (not feedback) I hope will be helpful for you?” Of course, they’ll say ‘yes’ especially if you are the boss, but the point is you are looking for a ‘head nod’ which indicates they are listening, and more open to hearing the information.
Third, ask “What are your thoughts about it?” Now you are separating the person from the behavior, engaging their brain into thinking about action and the future, rather than leaving them feeling judged or criticized.
If we start with the positive and believe that mistakes aren’t a sign of failure, but an opportunity to get information and adjust course accordingly, we are more open to hearing “feedback” and much more inspired to go forward with enthusiasm and get more done![sharebox4 sharetext=”Share This Page”] [/sharebox4]
Because most people will work hard to avoid conflict, productive meetings prepare participants for “what we are doing today” and encourage them to think out loud.
Bottom line is the leader must facilitate a psychologically safe environment for people to take risks.
“All ideas are accepted” and we start with only positive statements or strengths will create such an environment.
Brain science research has proven there’s an optimum 5:1 ratio: when we start a conversation with the positive, then our brain will be more open to accepting the “negative” or different opinions.
It’s like merging onto a freeway … start by going with the flow of traffic, then merge lane by lane into the fast lane is a better strategy than getting on the freeway going the wrong direction![sharebox4 sharetext=”Share This Page”] [/sharebox4]
If you are a leader in your organization (and anyone who makes a difference can be a leader), what if you were to notice opportunities to make a positive difference in another person’s self-image. What difference could you make today?
Common sense and now recent discoveries in brain science of social intelligence research, proves it: It is within a conversation in a relationship we learn and grow and our minds are shaped (ideally) to become more of who we are supposed to be. However, in many conversations we end up feeling criticized, deflated and unmotivated. Especially if that conversation happens with the boss or where there is an imbalance of power, as in a leader vs. direct report relationship.
Let’s make this practical and now take it a step further. We communicate through language (verbal, non-verbal). Stay with me now … In our conversations we influence and change our minds and subsequently our neural connections. When new neural networks and connections in our brain are made, due to neuroplasticity, our self-identity is constantly shaped and re-shaped and in turn we influence the self-identity of others. Oh, and many of us are in contact with more people and have more conversations with people at work … therefore many opportunities to create positive, constructive neural connections in not only their brain, but our own.
ScienceDaily (2010-08-27) — In the first study of its kind, researchers have found compelling evidence that our best and worst experiences in life are likely to involve not individual accomplishments, but interaction with other people and the fulfillment of an urge for social connection.
What if you were to notice opportunities to make a positive difference in someone else’s brain … what difference could you make today? Go ahead, I dare you.