Words by Kat Byles, founder of The True Business School
Purpose can play a significant part in the success of a business. In their book Built to Last (1992) Jim Collins and Jerry Porras showed that visionary companies guided by purpose are six times more profitable than purely profit-driven rivals.
But purpose is more widespread than the business world. We are all born with a purpose. As unique as your fingerprint, it is held within your heart, your reason for being, your north star. With your purpose placed at the heart of your life you benefit from clarity of focus and direction. On the occasions self-doubt creeps in, purpose empowers you. Decisions becomeeasier as you choose the path aligned with the fulfilment of your purpose.
US actress and filmmaker Reese Witherspoon has a purpose to share women’s stories on the big screen to change the narrative of women in US culture. She founded the production company Pacific Standard, and Hello Sunshine, to share stories written by women, with a female lead, brought to the screen by women.
As Reese pitched her business venture to investors, she was informed that no one would want to watch films with a female lead, that this was not a profitable venture. She invested her own money, which she was also told was a mistake.
Reese Witherspoon’s first two film productions with female leads, Wild and Gone Girl, grossed half a billion dollars. She also produced the hugely successful TV series Big Little Lies, The Morning Show, Little Fires Everywhere, and the film from the best-selling book Where the Crawdad Sings is due for release in July 2022.
Your purpose doesn’t arrive one day ‘boom!’ fully formed, expressed, and embodied. There are recognisable stages to the growth and development of your purpose. These stages are not linear. You may experience more than one stage at a time, and some stages last longer than others. And when you become aware of the stage you are at, you have a map and can more easily participate in your purpose being fulfilled.
Here are the seven stages of purpose. Use these to create a roadmap. Which stage do you most resonate with? And which stage do you want to invest your focus, energy and attention in next? Take a look and decide where you are, and this will help you define the next steps you need to take towards your true purpose and passion.
You sense you have a bigger purpose than what is currently being expressed. There may be a sense of ‘something’ missing, a frustration, a sensation pulling you towards ‘something’ you can’t quite understand, it is led by a desire for more – more meaning, contribution and impact.
Simon Haas, yoga philosopher and author of The Book of Dharma and Yoga and Dark Night of the Soul shares that your purpose emerges naturally when you live your true nature.
This is echoed by Jill Ellis, former coach of the USA Women’s Soccer Team sharing the experience of opening upto her team that she was married to Betsy Stephenson, a woman. Fully supported, the US women’s team went on to campaign for equal pay for women using the World Cup as their global platform. Jill said: “When I became open in who I was, I found my purpose there.”
When you experience a calling, practice bringing more of your true nature into your life every day, and as you do, your purpose is revealed to you.
As you follow your true nature, you begin to receive a sense of your purpose, the more you receive the clearer it becomes.At this stage, stay curious. Don’t deny it or push it away. Embrace and begin to own your purpose.
As you embrace your purpose, articulate it in a few simple words that inspire and resonate with your heart. The simpler the better. For example, The Teen Yoga Foundation has a purpose to empower young people through yoga so that there’s a generation of kids with self-esteem, resilience and mental wellness. Maddy Cooper, co-founder of Brilliant Noise, has a purpose of protecting the earth so that families have a bright future, with sustainable marketing for brands that really mean it.
Now your purpose is clearly articulated the next step is to align your decisions, actions, behaviours, products and services with your purpose. Let go of any aspects of your lifethat are not aligned with your purpose. This can take courage, but it is worth it.
As you make decisions aligned with your purpose, you shift from an intellectual understanding to your purpose becoming a tangible, living expression. The more you can appreciate the deep fulfilment, value and impact embodying your purposebrings, the more you grow.
As you grow in the embodiment of your true nature and purpose you are now ‘walking your talk’. There is anoticeable dedication, integrity and congruence and this inspires others. At this stage, as you communicate and share the wisdom of your experience openly and transparently, you become a recognised leader in your field.
Your purpose, your north star, becomes an evolutionary force, both in your personal and business development taking you into the unknown, towards new frontiers. If you haven’t already, here you are invited to surrender more deeply, to let go of what wants to go and allow what wants to come.