Purposeful Leadership & Life Lessons: Exploring Myth Two - The Misconception of Purpose

Published on
February 8, 2024

Have you ever wondered about what it means to live with purposeful leadership?

Not long ago, I worked with a designer to create a reflection guide called The Path to Purposeful Leadership. In the guide, I identified four critical life rhythms essential to being a purposeful leader:

  1. Spiritual Rhythms
  2. Physical Rhythms
  3. Emotional Rhythms
  4. Relational Rhythms

In the guide, I present three myths and truths for each rhythm.

In early January, I wrote on the first myth and truth.

Spiritual Rhythms

Spiritual rhythms provide a sense of grounding and connection to something greater than ourselves. They offer a space for reflection, inner peace, and personal growth.

Engaging in a rhythm of spiritual practices helps us cultivate a deeper understanding of ourselves, our values, and our purpose in life. It can also serve as a source of comfort, guidance, and inspiration during challenging times.

We create an opportunity to nourish our souls and nurture our inner well-being by making spiritual rhythms part of our daily routine.

Myths

Here are three myths related to spiritual rhythms:

  1. Purpose often comes through a dramatic spiritual revelation or life-altering spiritual experience.
  2. Purpose is meaningful when aligned with a spiritual mission that drives global impact.
  3. Purpose discovery is a one-time event, after which it remains unchanged.

Imagine a world leader who transforms societies not with one monumental act but through countless mindful decisions. We’re living in a time where the spotlight is on grand global impacts, but what about the power of purposeful leadership on a smaller scale?

Consider the life of Mother Teresa, an iconic figure, a leader who didn't alter the course of history through one monumental act but rather through countless deliberate and purposeful decisions.

She was not recognized for a single monumental deed but for her countless small, purposeful acts of kindness that forever altered the course of millions of lives. This embodies what makes an effective, intentional leader.

Myth Two: Purposeful Leadership = Global Impact

In today's world, there's a growing fixation on achieving global impact, often overshadowing the importance of purposeful, everyday leadership. This belief can impact how you lead, creating pressure to measure success on an unrealistic scale.

Connecting purposeful leadership only with a global impact has several negative consequences:

  • My significance is based on my platform. The bigger my venue, the more successful I am.
  • By only looking at global impact, I lose connection with those in the proximity of my everyday life.
  • Most of life is lived in the ordinary. Only considering our global impact means we lessen our pursuit of doing the ordinary extraordinarily well.

Implications of the Myth of Global Impact

Under the weight of the global impact myth, leadership styles can become distorted, placing unrealistic pressures on leaders to measure success on a grand scale.

There can be a tendency to:

  • Function out of pride.
  • You are rooting your deepest motivations in the wrong place.
  • Motivations and resulting actions misaligned with deepest intentions.

Please don’t hear me say that some are not wired for global impact. We can look through history and see the global impact of many leaders.

Over the last several years, I’ve become aware of several leaders who have made significant, profound organizational, national, and even global impacts.

The problem with many of these leaders is their success outpaced their character.

Shifting focus from global to local impact for purposeful leadership might feel counterintuitive, but this shift nurtures freedom and sustainability.

Truth: The Power of the Everyday

Don't be fooled by the myth that leadership purpose is tied to grand, global impacts.

The truth is purpose lies in our everyday lives, where even the most minor action can positively impact our immediate surroundings.

Purposeful leadership is how you influence the world through daily interactions and decisions.

As I noted in the Myth section above, most of life is lived in the ordinary.

Elsewhere, I’ve written,

American society bombards us with the message that newer and more significant are always better. Our advertising media is built on the premise, ‘You could have so much more! Go for it! After all, you’re worth it!” If you settle for last year’s model, stay in the smaller house, take a simpler vacation, or become rooted in that small community, you're not worth it.

We find purpose in the ordinary.

We won't find our true purpose if we restlessly move from one grand moment to the next, constantly pining after global impact.

In the hustle of life, it's easy to overlook that purpose often reveals itself in the simplest, most ordinary moments, impacting those closest to us. This truth invites us to rediscover meaning and purpose in more minor, ordinary things.

It's about answering this question: “What brings you life outside of accomplishing leadership goals?”

Exploring Leadership On a Human Scale

Let's shift gears and explore the profound truths of impactful leadership on a human scale.

Ponder these questions:

  1. Am I relying too much on myself?
  2. Is your identity tied to titles or achievements?
  3. Is your worth and value tied to productivity?
  4. Are you finding meaning beyond what you produce or perform?

These questions reveal deep-seated mindsets that could close your eyes to true purpose.

If you're constantly striving to impress others, it's a warning sign your leadership may be off track.

It's crucial to assess and realign our self-perception. In our quest for freedom, let's break free from these chains and redefine success.

Defining oneself beyond titles and productivity is liberating. Leadership is about being, not just doing.

Embrace the freedom to lead with authenticity, impact, and purpose.

Four Key Lessons Derived from Myth and Truth

Lesson 1: Valuing the Unassuming Moments

In a world that often equates noise with effectiveness, it's crucial to recognize the immense value of unassuming leadership moments.

When leaders step back to let others shine and replace reprimands with coaching, they become the building blocks of a culture that values growth and compassion over fear and blind ambition.

How are you valuing unassuming moments?

Lesson 2: Fulfillment Close to Home

While grand accomplishments can bring satisfaction, true fulfillment as a leader often stems from the quiet, local influence exerted within one's immediate community.

The consistent demonstration of values and the practices of daily dedication lays the groundwork for lasting impact and personal contentment.

Are you finding fulfillment close to home?

Lesson 3: Sustainable Impacts through Routine

It's in the ordinary - the routine many may find mundane - where opportunities to make a difference constantly emerge.

The sustainable nature of purposeful living is cultivated through regular, repeated actions that align with one’s core values, with the understanding that every small decision contributes to a broader tapestry of influence.

Are you living the ordinary extraordinarily well?

Lesson 4: Inspiring Others Through Kindness

Perhaps the most profound of lessons is encouraging others to embrace the truth that you can touch lives with simple acts of kindness and understanding.

A leader's legacy is often defined not by their grand achievements but by the compassion they've shown, the acceptance they've fostered, and the empathy they've conveyed through their day-to-day behavior.

How is your kindness factor?

Personal Reflection: Everyday Impact in Action

Think about a personal story where a simple, everyday interaction sparked a change in your family or the world around you.

You've likely experienced a ripple effect of positive change that began with just one small action.

In my own life, I ask a few questions:

  • How is my tone of voice with my family? What needs to change?
  • How am I reacting to the customer service agent? Do I need work in this area?
  • How am I reacting to other drivers on the road? What does this reveal about my motivations?

Let's explore how your story fits into the broader narrative of influential leaders who inspire change through relatable, accessible means.

The Larger Narrative

Your everyday actions make a difference in your leadership.

Purposeful leadership isn't about grand gestures but accessible, relatable acts of kindness and understanding.

Consider these questions:

  • How do small gestures, words, and deeds affect your family, community, and organization?
  • Do people in my world think I’m approachable?
  • Do I live well in the ordinary?
  • How would those closest to me answer the above questions?

Do your answers to these questions, and the responses of those closest to you trouble you? Think about these strategies:

  • Lead restfully: Leading from a posture of rest is critical to your leadership well-being.
  • Adopt spiritual practices that renew your mind, fostering a healthy leadership mindset.
  • Recognize signs that you need to reevaluate your priorities as a leader. This is vital for sustainable leadership.
  • Use creative introspection to examine your deepest motivations, ensuring they're rooted in authenticity, not ego or false expectations.

Your leadership journey isn't about the destination; it’s about the path you tread and the lives you touch. So, keep asking, keep reflecting, and keep leading with kindness.

Your Turn

Now it's your turn to reflect on your daily interactions and their potential impact.

  • Have you ever pondered the depth of your daily interactions and their potential to create a meaningful impact?
  • Could you be leveraging these exchanges to foster growth?
  • How are your life rhythms affecting the potential of your everyday life to build into your purpose?
  • How can I improve the quality of time with my family as a leader?
  • Is my pursuit of global impact and the resulting duties overshadowing your ability to live extraordinarily well in the ordinary?
  • What adjustments can I make to ensure I lead and live with intentionality?

What's one small change you could make today that aligns with your intrinsic purpose?

How would making this change over time change my understanding of purposeful leadership?

Commitment to Small Change

If you're ready to embrace purposeful leadership, why not try committing to a tiny change in your daily routine that resonates with your core purpose? Here's a simple challenge to help you journey towards freedom:

  1. Start by assessing what activities energize you outside of work.
  2. Adopt best practices for establishing life-giving work routines.
  3. Discover ways to build regular rest into your work routine.
  4. Explore tips for maintaining spiritual and physical fitness in leadership.

Allow yourself some grace and remain patient, and you'll be amazed at the impact this minor adjustment can have over time.

It’s your turn to take action!

Purpose Isn’t Always Grand

Purpose isn't always grand and glorious; it's often personal and immediate, deeply rooted in your everyday life.

Acknowledging the significance of each action and decision you make is crucial.

Understanding your purpose doesn't require a grand, life-changing revelation; often, it's found in the simplicity of your day-to-day activities and personal experiences.

You can find meaning and purpose by gauging balance across critical areas. It's essential to understand that the journey to find your goal is personal and immediate.

As you navigate the personal journey of recognizing your purpose, it's crucial to affirm the significance of each action and decision, acknowledging the ripple effect they've had in your life's grand scheme.

It's about encouraging and recognizing value in every action and decision. This involves honest conversations clergy should have about self-care.

Learning how to create margin in a busy schedule and nurturing passion areas outside of your leadership commitments is essential.

Do It Today

Why wait for tomorrow to start making a difference when you can begin today? The time is now. Embrace your ability to enact positive change within your spheres of influence. Begin today.

We’ve debunked the myth of global impact and pressed the truth of everyday actions.

It's your turn. Reflect, engage, and let your everyday rhythm resonate with purpose.

Lead your life with purposeful intention, and watch as your small actions create waves of change.

I’m committed to walking the journey with you. I am actively at work writing a book I’ve tentatively titled Living a Connected Life: Becoming a Purposeful Leader.

In the coming months, I'm building a course/mastermind.

We need more flourishing, purposeful leaders in our world. I’d love to discuss my vision of what can be in 2024 and what you see coming in your life. Connect with me here, and let’s talk.

If you’ve not yet obtained your free copy of my reflection guide, dive into the depths of leadership with Your Path to Purposeful Leadership: The 12 Myths That Leave Leaders Unfulfilled and Disconnected. Discover transformative insights for your leadership journey.

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