Having a sense of purpose in life is associated with a lower risk of death, according to a study published on May 24, 2019, in JAMA Network Open.
The research concluded that “stronger purpose in life was associated with decreased mortality. Purposeful living may have health benefits.” Having a sense of purpose is associated with good health. In other words having purpose can save lives.
This research joins an increasing number of studies that show a connection. That is between a sense of purpose, health benefits, and overall quality of life.
The job of leaders is to inspire collective efforts
Leaders need to devise smart strategies for the future. Inspiring collective efforts is one way. History can be profitably employed on both fronts. As a leader strives to get people working together productively, communicating the history of the enterprise can instil a sense of identity. And can suggest the goals that will resonate.
In its most familiar form, as a story about the past, history is a rich explanatory tool with which leaders can make a case for change and motivate people to overcome challenges. Including the current challenge business faces.
I worked with Alan, a CEO of a software firm based in the UK. He has taken this to a higher level. Alan uses the company’s past story as a potent problem-solving tool, one that offers pragmatic insights, valid generalizations, and meaningful perspectives – a way through management fads and the noise of the moment to what really matters.
For him the challenge was to find in his organisation’s history its usable past, to convey its purpose. Its “why” – the reason everyone did anything. This starts with his purpose. And his personal story.
What is Purpose?
Stanford psychologist William Damon define purpose as “a stable and generalised intention to accomplish something that is at once meaningful to us personally, and of consequence to the world beyond ourselves.” His definition includes three components:
- In contrast with simple day-to-day objectives, such as getting dinner on the table or driving to work, purpose is “more stable and far-reaching”.
- It has an external facet that involves reaching in some way beyond one’s self.
- It involves achievement, progress, or completion.
Purpose opens opportunities. This information can awaken us to define goals and ideals that are personally meaningful and reach beyond ourselves in some way to progressively define our existence. It does not have specific definitions or boundaries.
The sense of purpose is what matter – whether we experience it as a volunteer, receptionist, carpenter, teacher, maintenance worker, parent, or physician, it does not matter.
Having a purpose – whether large or small, whether we reach the objective or continue to strive for it – informs our existence in important ways that may impact physical and mental health and overall well-being. Having purpose can save lives.
How do I find my Purpose?
Live the My Game formula: (S+V) I = P. The truth of leadership is to know yourself, trust yourself, and be yourself; only then, will you be truly trustworthy.
- Know the why of what you are about to do in each moment. This will help you get a handle on your intent (your maxim for life).
- Understand your values. Know what is important to you. Know where your values come from – mine your life experiences for real clarification.
- Live your values. Use the stories that surround your values to convey who you are. Be true to these stories. Don’t just speak about them. Live them.
- Meditate and reflect on the impact the above has on you and the people around you. Make the necessary changes.
- Show emotion. Allow yourself to feel. Learn how others feel and use this to understand yourself and others better.