At some point, we’ve all asked ourselves, “What’s my purpose?” It’s a loaded question, and one that should never be taken lightly. Speakers devoted their words to helping leaders find purpose, both for themselves and for their followers.

1. Focus on being a means to an end. 

“Until you learn how to be a means, you will not have a purpose at your company,” said Andy Stanley, founder of North Point Ministries. Instead of asking yourself, “What’s in it for me?” ask, “Who am I here for?” or “Who is my organization here for?”

Purpose is found right across the border from what’s in it for me, noted Stanley, adding that it also comes with a price. Purpose requires sacrifice; “that’s why [some] people live their entire lives and never get any sense of purpose,” he added. 

To find purpose, Stanley said to first start looking at what you’re doing through the lens of means. “If your dead-end job lets you eat and live indoors, your job is a means to an end.”

Next, pay attention to what stirs your heart. “Purpose is often found at the intersection of a broken heart, opportunity or skill,” continued Stanley.

Lastly, encompass yourself with on-purpose people, he said. “Surround yourself with people who aren’t working for themselves.”

2. Be fearless.

“When we have a clear purpose, it changes our behavior,” said Molly Fletcher, former sports agent-turned-author and motivational speaker. “When we need to be fearless, the first step is having purpose.” Fletcher’s four steps to achieving fearlessness include having the courage to be curious and learning to take ownership of your mistakes.

The next step is resiliency, continued Fletcher, noting that managing your energy is key to fearlessness. “Ask yourself, ‘Who deserves [my] energy?’ Being careful about whom you give your energy to is key to resiliency,” she said.

“Little moments create big outcomes in our lives,” added Fletcher as she discussed the last step of fearlessness: having the courage to be bold. Fletcher noted taking ownership of these small, seemingly insignificant moments is essential.

“Wake up every day and get clear on your purpose,” Fletcher advised. “It’s not about achievement or the chase; it’s what happens along the way that creates fulfillment.”

3. Drop From Your Head to Your Heart

Your heart is your best tool to access your true purpose and passion. Ask yourself what you love? Start taking steps to do what you love. When you are inspired and connected to your happy self, inspiration floods your heart and soul. When you lead from your heart, you are naturally more joyful and motivated to explore. By doing what you love, you will be inspired and gain insights into what brings you the most joy.

4. Know there’s more than one level of purpose. 

There are two kinds of purpose, explained  best-selling author Daniel Pink: purpose with a capital P and purpose with a small p. Capital-P purpose asks, “Am I making a difference? Am I changing the world in some way?” It’s when you are doing something transcendent like feeding the hungry.

“Capital-P purpose is important, but in our [daily] lives, it’s hard to get [it] every single day,” said Pink. “Capital-P purpose isn’t available to us all the time, and that’s OK.”

Small-p purpose asks, “Am I making a contribution?” informed Pink, noting it’s equally important as capital-P purpose. People need to feel as though they’re making a contribution to feel satisfaction in their job. When a staff member meets a tight deadline or sees an idea executed by the entire team, he or she feels valued by the company.

5. Appreciate your supporters.

An organization’s team is a lot like a tree, said producer, director and actor Tyler Perry—it’s made up of people who are leaves, branches and roots. The leaves are those people who are only there for a season, and should be expected. “Never get mad at a leaf person for leaving,” advised Perry.

Branches, however, are those people who can weather the storm. They are more withstanding than leaves, but it’s important not to overload them. “You need to know when is too much [for branches], or they’ll break,” he noted.

Other people are roots. Perry shared they’re the core of your organization; they’re there for your very survival.

Perry urged it takes all of these types to make an organization run and help you climb. As you do, “take a moment to celebrate the steps you’ve made,” he said. “You don’t have to get all the way to the top of the mountain to appreciate what you’ve done. Take it in.

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