In one of my speeches this week, I offered up this guideline for selecting new projects: Ask yourself, “Does this align with my purpose?”
The Living Organization describes the Soulful Purpose as part of a strategic compass that guides an organization to greatness (The Living Organization: Transforming Business to Create Extraordinary Results by Norman Wolfe). We all have a soulful purpose—a guiding principal that uniquely fits who we are, “a reason that somehow serves Life itself”. Using this as a compass for choices and actions will steer you towards what you do best, whether you are selecting for yourself or your company.
I personally experienced this earlier this year when I agreed to collaborate on a project that helped prepare citizens to survive crisis situations. Yes, it was interesting challenge. And it sometimes pulled me away from the work that I had been focused on. At several points along the way, I questioned if I was really following my purpose or getting sidetracked.
About three months into the project, the answer became clear.
I was invited to present at a conference of international emergency managers. For the first 1.5 days, numerous speakers offered white papers.Monotone voices read elaborate papers. Power points presentations were filled with tiny numbers.
The mostly silent audience members stared at the front. There always seemed to be two or three empty chairs between each one. Some had blank expressions, some checked their emails, a few were napping, and others simply stepped out for phone calls.
Right after lunch it was my turn. I called, “Everyone Up!” Within minutes, I had these very stiff professional managers moving around and actually experiencing what it was like to try to think clearly in the middle of chaos. They stumbled and laughed and kept on trying to play by the rules and resolve the problems as teams. They played full out.
In the debrief, we discussed how this “play” was very much like what happened in “real-life” crisis situations. The first few minutes of reacting to the unimaginable in the middle of chaos and confusion could mean life or death.
But the change in energy and enthusiasm didn’t stop at the end of my session. After the activities, I noticed these ‘engineer-types’ were now gathering in groups actively engaged and talking amongst each other. There were smiles, heightened energy and people were solving real problems together.
It was then that I knew I had fulfilled my purpose. My Soulful Purpose is to help everyone be more self-expressed (myself included). It is to have people experience through play their ability to be fully engaged in the game of life. It is to help others have a fulfilling and enriching experience of life.
Not everyone will say their work is play like I do. We believe that when you select work that aligns with your purpose, it will energize and inspire you to do your best. When you do your best, the process will be enjoyable and meaningful. Your work experience can become a playful experience.
When you do things from your Soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy. When actions come from another section, the feeling disappears. ―Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi