If This Is Missing, You Need to Find It

Working On Purpose

Recently I had a lunch meeting with a high-level executive from a company in town. I’ve known him for a while. He’s extremely sharp, skilled, and ambitious, so it’s no surprise he has advanced in his career throughout the years.

But it was a surprise when he said: “I have a good salary, a good title, and a lot of responsibility. But I feel so discontented. What’s wrong with me?”

As he went on, it sounded familiar. I’d often heard the same thing in the 100 hours I’d logged coaching people. Now he was sounding like my clients. Something was missing that needed to be found.

What was it?

It was a sense of purpose.

My job as a coach is to help clients listen to themselves, to hear the deeper story they’re telling. Often we’re too close to ourselves to hear the deeper stuff, so having someone trained in that way can help.

I can tell clients are short on purpose when they say things like:

“I don’t see the point of what I’m doing.”

“It’s like I’m just spinning my wheels. I can’t go on like this.”

“I feel guilty when I get my paycheck; what am I really there for?”

What I try to do is help them find the purpose that’s already there, but may be hidden from sight. Or sometimes identify a new purpose because the old one doesn’t fit anymore. Whether we’re uncovering what’s there or remaking what’s not, the act is beautiful and a little bit sacred. It’s one of the best things I get to do.

The reason purpose is so important is because purpose is the why behind what you do. If the why is off, then the what will be off, too. Ideally, you would identify your purpose and then create activities that fulfill the purpose. But if you don’t know your purpose, how will you know what activities to pursue?

On the other hand, a clear purpose directs you, inspires you, and keeps you going. Your purpose is the reason you do what you do. It gives meaning to your day. I heard of a janitor at a children’s hospital, who when describing her job, did not say her purpose was to “scrub floors and clean toilets” (her activities), but rather her purpose was to “keep children healthy.” Now that’s beautiful and sacred.

So what about you? Is purpose stirring inside of you?

If you don’t mind, I’ll ask a few coaching questions:

  • What is your purpose at work?
  • If you don’t know, what’s keeping you from identifying it?
  • What would working from a strong purpose do for you?
  • What would your life look like a year from now if you were working on purpose?

Your purpose is too important to ignore. It’s not a luxury, nice-to-have, or toy of the rich and famous. Finding your purpose is a necessity. If it’s missing, you need to find it.

I encourage you to start a conversation with someone you trust by sharing your answers. If you type them here, I’ll be happy to respond.

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Chris believes we're all looking for purpose and joy at work. He's the Vice President of Human Resources for EnergyCAP, Inc., where he helps employees to succeed. He's also a Certified Professional Life Coach and a Certified Gallup Strengths Coach. He loves to coach people, write, and speak around the topics of engagement, coaching, strengths, and growth. He blogs often at ChrisHeinz.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “If This Is Missing, You Need to Find It

  1. 1) I haven’t worked outside my home in a paid position since 2010, but I am working for the Lord in my calling to pray. My purpose in this work is to love God with all my heart in an intimate relationship with Him and to be faithful to His calling, using the understanding and stewarding the gifts He’s giving me to love/help others. 2) I believe God has revealed my purpose. My struggle right now is in not knowing WHERE God wants me to fulfill this purpose…where I fit in. I’m feeling the need to go outside the walls of my house/church. 3) Perhaps working from a strong purpose would give me courage and confidence to move forward -out of my comfort zone and self-limitations. 4) I see myself a year from now embracing my weaknesses…serving with abundant joy and renewed passion…experiencing completeness in Christ…being on full mission with Him.

      • My church is a hosting site for the GLS and also a plant of Willow Creek. I did not sign up to attend for financial reasons but also because I do not see myself as a leader although I’ve been told that I am leading in many ways. Maybe I need better understanding on what a leader is. Also, thank you for your post today re: calling out talent. I took your challenge to the first person who came to mind -my husband.