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Leadership Presents - Meaning

‘The meaning of life is to give life meaning.’

This is a profoundly simple and brilliant phrase, written by the brilliant psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl. What is most powerful is that when you know Viktor Frankl’s story the phrase has even more power. Viktor Frankl was a survivor of 4 concentration camps in Nazi Germany, including Theresienstadt and Auschwitz where he saw members of his family killed. Despite the atrocities that he suffered, he chose to dedicate his life to bring hope through his work and his writing. His most famous book was entitled’ ‘Man’s search for meaning’, helping readers do what it said in the title and find fulfilling meaning and purpose in life.

Frankl’s phrase, ‘The meaning of life is to give life meaning,’ sits at the root of most religions and is an innate importance to human beings. In my work as a coach, I have discovered that many people have not found their purpose or meaning for their existence. It is why it is part of the work that we do as we believe understanding the purpose that you can bring to others can empower and recharge you as you ‘feel in sync’. This series of blogs is exploring the gifts that we can bring as leaders to those that work with us. Helping your team discover their individual and collective purpose and meaning can be a gift that keeps on giving to them and to you.

Discover their collective purpose

Patrick Lencioni, in his book ‘The Truth about Employee Engagement’, explains that there are three things that help a person engage in the work that they are doing:

  • They are known by the leader

  • They know what they do makes a difference

  • They know how to measure when they have been successful

Purpose or meaning to life has at the root of it that we ‘know what we do makes a difference’ and that it has been successful. So, when we help the team know the reason why we do what we do, we help them find meaning. When we help them know that they are being successful in it, it empowers us to continue doing it. I said earlier that it was the ‘gift that keeps on giving’ and the beauty of helping empower people with purpose is that they do it and do it with passion. That means the purpose we stand for goes well too. Those we serve benefit from it and therefore so do you as a leader too.

Discover an Individual Purpose

It’s two simple questions that can unearth a passionate purpose that energises us.

  • On your best day, what are you doing?

  • What about that is important?

It’s the start of the work that we do in coaching to help people discover purpose. So, as a leader, it is about noting, what are my individuals doing when they are a) most happy, b) most engaged, c) most productive. They will seem lost in joy and engagement in the task. When we see people doing that, we can help them to spend more time on their purpose, that energises them and less time on the things that drain them.

As an individual, you can discover your purpose by having that same curiosity about yourself. What tasks feel draining? What tasks bring you a sense of oneness, alignment and satisfaction? Your purpose is not those tasks, as they are vehicles that carry that purpose. For example, I love coaching, training, one to one development chats. These jobs or tasks are the vehicles that carry my purpose of ‘empowering others’.

The exercise that I help clients discover their purpose is called ‘Top Trump’. I call it this because it helps them discover their ‘Top Trump’, as in the game of Top Trumps. You know when you have your Top Trump that you can tackle any card you face. It is the same when we know our purpose. We know how to deal with what things throw at us as we can ‘trump them’ with our purpose. It gives us energy to work through the issue because we know why we are doing it and that what we do makes a difference.

A present

So, if your Professional Development Reviews have become a bit flat of late, then you can put some zing back into them by using them to help your team discover their individual and collective purpose. Ask them the two questions above. Ask them what they would like to spend more time on that energises them. Help them see the collective purpose and how their purpose contributes to that. I guarantee it will be a gift that keeps giving.

Can we help you?

We hope this blog has been helpful and if you would like some more targeted support to explore how you help your team and individuals discover purpose and meaning then Everyday Leader is here to help you. Our clients find their coaching and training empowering, as we help them gain a full perspective and find a way forward. If you have a challenge and you would like our support, then do get in contact with us. Give us a call on 01449 710438 or email if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you.


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