As professionals, we are constantly bombarded with advice on how to advance our businesses and careers. Build your personal brand! Increase your visibility! Network and make valuable connections! While all of this advice has merit, too often professionals get caught up in the tactics without first establishing their "why"—their core values, purpose, and mission.
Why is connecting with your purpose important?
Without connecting to your why, you risk feeling inauthentic and disconnected from your true potential. You may find yourself saying yes to every opportunity to get in front of a crowd or share your message, even if those messages aren’t fully aligned with who you are. Here are a few issues that can arise when you focus on visibility and influence without a strong sense of purpose:
Discovering your purpose, core values and mission is like mining for diamonds. You must look to your “carbon moments”—your worst life experiences—and your “diamond moments”—your peak experiences when you felt most alive and fulfilled. Reflecting on these moments, the pressures and temperatures of your life reveal insights into your purpose and values. I call this the “Diamond Extraction Process.”
Just as diamonds are forged under intense heat and pressure, your purpose is revealed through reflecting on life’s highs and lows. And just like diamonds, the purpose and values extracted this way become the bedrock of your personal brand.
What are the risks of no "why"?
Without this strong WHY, you can face the following challenges.
When you lack purpose and passion, business and career advancement can feel like empty achievements, leading to exhaustion, cynicism and decreased motivation. Simon Sinek shares the story of a CEO he worked with who was constantly travelling, giving talks and advancing his career, only to realize he had lost touch with his own values and mission. He ended up depressed and burned out.
2. Lack of integrity
When your actions are not aligned with your values and who you are, you lose integrity and authenticity. Your audience will sense this inconsistency, and you will too. As Sinek also says, “When the ‘why’ is unclear, people make up their own.” People will perceive you through their own interpretations.
3. Short-term thinking
Without purpose, you tend to chase whatever opportunities or tactics seem most promising at the moment. You lack vision and strategy. Many social media influencers and entrepreneurs struggle with this, bouncing from idea to idea without a clear purpose or mission to guide them.
4. Lack of impact
When you know your why—your purpose and mission—you can develop a long-term vision and strategy to make a meaningful difference. Without this, you achieve empty goals and metrics. Even highly “successful” people can feel a lack of impact or meaning without purpose.
5. Lack of fulfillment
A strong sense of purpose fuels passion, joy and meaning in your work. Without purpose, each achievement and milestone feels unsatisfying. Leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malala Yousafzai demonstrate how a clear purpose and mission can drive passion, courage, and lifelong commitment to meaningful change.
The tactics and skills for advancing your business & career are secondary to connecting with your core purpose and mission. Take the time to explore your why, your values and the impact you want to make. Let this purpose guide your actions and decisions. Only then can you achieve your full potential and build a thriving, fulfilling career and life. Don’t let your limiting beliefs stop you!