In our businesses and work, we have the opportunity every day to take action and move towards our ideal future. The question is, How many of us will move towards our ideal future (or vision) while maintaining a connection to a higher purpose in what we do, versus simply taking action and going through the motions to achieve our desired end result? I recently read a study conducted by psychologist David Yeager. He interviewed high school students in the San Francisco Bay Area about their hopes, dreams and life goals. Students shared that they wanted make a positive impact on their community or society and wanted to pursue careers where they felt they could make a difference. What was surprising about this study, is that the students who wanted to make a difference, also rated their schoolwork as more personally meaningful. The connection in the study was that students who wanted to make a difference were able to find meaning and purpose in their schoolwork (which in and of itself felt like drudgery on a day-to-day basis) because they could see that their studies would ultimately support them in making a bigger difference in the world. Like the students in the study, we can move beyond our narrow focus on the daily drudgery and challenges in our businesses and instead train ourselves to see the “big picture” and connect to a more meaningful purpose. Then we too, can discover a way to powerfully overcome obstacles. Let me make this more tangible by giving you two examples: Many businesses focus on personal survival and making money. When I first started my business 9 years ago, I was struggling to make money and attract clients. My default way of operating was to take whatever action I needed to take to get clients. My primary focus was on my own personal survival and a strong desire to make more money so I could pay the family bills. Many leaders focus on the level of making requests only. Owners and managers often make multiple requests and tell their employees what to do. And then are surprised when their employees don’t follow through, aren’t engaged or don’t take ownership of the requests.

Both of these examples reveal how we get caught up in “small conversations.” The opportunity in each of these situations is to shift to a bigger conversation – from one of content to one of context. Here’s what that might look like for each situation listed above: A purposeful leader shifts their focus from making money to being of service to others. I realized that while I wanted to make more money, I had the opportunity to get clear about the primary purpose of my business. For me, what shifted, was when I realized that the purpose of my business was to make an impact and to show leaders how to lead their employees to work as a team to achieve extraordinary results and to make a difference in their business, their community and ultimately the world. My bigger context of making an impact inspired me when I came up against challenges like attracting clients, encountering my fears of public speaking or doing something I had never done before. It gave me a bigger purpose that supported me in moving past my “smaller conversations” around my fears and doubts. With the focus of work shifting to serving others, it was no longer about my personal survival. My desire to be of purpose became my primary driver. The irony is that after I got clear about my bigger purpose, my income more than tripled! 2. A purposeful leader shifts from making requests to making a difference. The opportunity is to support your entire team in making the connection between requests and being of service. Most employees want to work for a business where they feel like they are making a difference. This is something that is deeply ingrained in all of us as human beings. Support your employees in making the connection to a bigger purpose of making a difference for others – namely customers.

And suddenly, it will make sense to them why it matters to follow through on specific requests, like returning all customer phone calls within the day received, or handling a customer complaint with empathy and kindness – because ultimately it’s about making a difference for the customer. When you help your employees connect to the bigger purpose of making a difference for others they will feel inspired to change behavior on their own instead of you having to constantly remind them to do it. The bottom line is that every day in our business, we have the opportunity to connect with a bigger meaning and purpose – one that makes a difference for the customers and clients we serve. This bigger purpose helps us (and our entire team) to transform daily challenges and drudgery into purposeful meaning and impact. What’s your bigger purpose for your business and work? And how has connecting to that bigger purpose made a difference for you? Click here to share on my blog I’d love to hear from you!

Author's Bio: 

Are you a small business owner who would like to discover unique, cutting edge approaches for leading your team to double sales while making an extraordinary impact in your business?

Leslie has over 20 years of experience in leading workshops, educational seminars and empowering small business owners and entrepreneurs around the topic of empowering their teams to double their sales and achieve outrageous results while making an extraordinary impact.
Leslie is an international author whose work has appeared in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and a monthly columnist for “Balance: A Magazine for Montana Women”.
Leslie is a radio personality and former talk show radio host. She hosted her own weekly 2-hour call-in talk radio show called “Living Richly,” and has appeared live on CBS (formally CNN) News Talk Radio. She interviewed experts like 6-time Oprah guest Olivia Mellan and SARK whose national bestsellers have sold more than two million copies, and numerous other authors and speakers.
Award-winning Small Business Mentor and Teamwork expert, Leslie Cunningham is one of the leading experts in empowering small business owners to double their sales, performance and bottom line profits with their employee teams.
She has over 20 years experience in working with small business owners and entrepreneurs and facilitating groups, developing educational programs and building cohesive teams to achieve breakthrough results.