In my earlier blog post “What’s Your Personal Brand“, I wrote about how the 3 steps to defining your personal brand are similar to how many mega product brands define themselves. Put simply they are: 1) Purpose (your impact in the world), 2) Strengths (how you fulfill that purpose), 3) Character (your most deeply held values). Here we will get into how to further define Purpose.
What is your Purpose? Many philosophers have pondered purpose across ages and through their lifetimes. With due respect to them, here’s a few questions that will get you in the ball park in a few minutes.
Purpose is the place where your value to others overlaps with what brings you personal joy.
The questions to ask yourself about value to others:
1) Who are my most important stakeholders?
2) What do my stakeholders value most? In general? from me?
3) What is critical to success in my work?
The questions to ask yourself about personal joy:
1) When am I most joyful or “in the zone”?
2) What were my peak experiences at work where I had fun and was successful?
3) Who was I being? What was I doing? during those peak times.
These questions require some reflection and quiet time. Reviewing your most joyful, but also some of your most challenging times will give you a clue into some of those answers. Examine both your successes and your challenges, as both are equally useful in learning about your purpose.
There are many times when all we do is focus on creating value for the organization that we work in without regard to what brings us joy. And this is what leaves us personally exhausted and disengaged. Other times if all we’re focused on is what brings us joy without regard to what creates value for our stakeholders, we risk becoming irrelevant. True power, success, and fulfillment lies in the intersection of external value and internal joy.
Mohammad Ali said “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.” Purpose is that sense of desire, dream, or vision. It comes more from the heart than from the head.
As I looked to articulate my purpose, I looked at the moments of pure joy for myself. These moments were during the coaching conversations I had with people in my organization, when I was connecting with my customers to better understand and serve their needs, or had some kind of change I was driving in organizations. I always found my more entrepreneurial assignments invigorating. I also experienced the challenges that many women faced in expressing their authentic leadership in organizations. From an external perspective, I saw that a lot of organizations were looking to understand how to engage, retain and build their female talent pipeline. This is what led me to choose to start a company in coaching and consulting, focused on women leaders. I want to help leaders be more aware of who they are, help them be conscious in their actions – so we create organizations that make a big difference for all their stakeholders.
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This article was written by Henna Inam, executive coach, speaker, and consultant. She works with women to help them realize their potential to be authentic, transformational leaders. They create organizations that drive breakthroughs in innovation, growth, and engagement. Her corporate clients include Coca Cola, UPS, Nestle, J&J, and others who know female leadership talent is good for business. To accelerate your own growth connect with her here. Connect on Twitter @hennainam