Previously I have spoken about Mastery and Autonomy, both critical components to helping create and foster a culture of success. When combined with the 3rd and final factor the sum total really is greater than the parts. That final factor is Purpose.
The value and meaning of Purpose in the workplace is perhaps best conveyed through the following allegory:
A long, long time ago in a land far, far away 3 men could be seen working hard in the village. A traveller seeing the 3 men toiling stopped to inquire as to their labour.
To the first man he asked, “What is thy labour for?” Hearing the question, the first man wearily turned to the traveller and replied dispiritingly, “I toil to layeth bricks. Day after day, my hands grow weary as the bricks feel evermore heavier. My back aches and my hands burn. Yet every day, more bricks awaiteth for thee”
Sensing the man did not want to continue to speaking the traveller turned to the second man. With similar curiosity to the first labourer, the traveller enquired, “What is thy labour for?”
The second man replied with somewhat more energy, “I am building a wall. This wall will help our village to stay safe from enemies. It is hard work, and like my friend my back too grows sore and weary. But I know I am helping to make the village safer.”
Looking over at the third man, the traveller couldn’t help but notice the focus and intensity the man was applying to his work. He seemed to be doing the same labour as the first two men but his approach was markedly different.
The traveller ventured closer to the third man and asked, “What is thoust labour for kind sir? Why does thy toil with such ferver? ‘
The third man seeing genuine intrigue on the traveller’s face expressing, paused and replied,
“I toil intently good sir because I am working to keep my family safe and happy. My 2 friends and I work on thy wall every day. Hard, physical work no doubt that it be. But I know thy purpose of my toil is for the benefit of my dear wife and our young son.”
Continuing the third man said, “I know that every morning when I awaken I have been given another day to set about my labour. Not just to move heavy bricks around but to build thy biggest and safest wall the village has ever known. I know that I have a new day that I can use to make my loving wife and son feel safer and looked after.”
Impressed with the third mans answer, the traveller questioned, “Do thy two friends have young families?” “Yes,” replied the man, “However, they unfortunately just focus on thy bricks and not thy safety the wall we are building will provide. For me, every brick I lay means my family is safer.”
“If you don’t mind kind sir, I wish to end our conversing and return to my work.” The third man spoke to the traveller. “Certainly, and I wish thee all the best with thy endeavour.”
The traveller continued on his journey leaving the 3 men working away at their task. Reflecting on his conversations, the traveller was quite amazed that each man had such differing perceptions about their work. To the traveller they all appeared to be physically doing the same work. Yet to each man, their work had a vastly different meaning.
All of us no doubt have days where we feel like the first man, struggling with ‘lifting heavy brick after brick’. We sometimes lose sight of the purpose of our work.
However, when we can tap into that purpose, that very same work can significantly change in its meaning, difficulty and level of fulfilment.
As a leader at DFP this focus on purpose is something I am cognisant of instilling in my team. What is the purpose of our team’s work? Not just the purpose for the business but for them personally?
How can we create and foster a culture of increased awareness on the professional and personal purpose behind our team choosing to dedicated 40+ hours of their life a week to our organisation?
When a team member’s personal purpose aligns with the professional purpose of their work, look out! The productivity, fulfilment, success and enjoyment will go parabolic. I challenge you, whatever your role in your team, find your purpose and enjoy the results!