The power of purpose

Purpose is pervasive. It’s been a powerful component of my work in the past month, as a facilitator, a learner and a participant. Even Justin Bieber’s pop has purpose, according to Ed Montano and Gene Shill.

Purpose makes you sit up and pay attention. It demands a response and feels more active than ‘mission’, ‘aim’, ‘goal’ or ‘common agenda’. As illustrated brilliantly by Simone Maus and Laurel Freeland at the Victorian Facilitator’s Network last month, purpose answers why a group exists, a project is started or even a meeting is held. Simone Maus* and Laurel Freeland took us through activities that reminded us what it takes to guide a group to arrive at its purpose. Active listening and the quiet confidence to hold the space and to sense, feel and know when a group finds it.

I like to imagine that Simone and Laurel were looking over my shoulder as I gently guided a group to arrive at their purpose a week later. After two hours of dancing tantalizingly close, the group nailed it in the last 15 minutes of our session. The pieces fell into place and the group’s purpose was there, written up, crossed out and corrected, for all to see. We knew it felt right.

Earlier, it took an hour for a group of volunteers to define our purpose as we met to plan an un-conference for our facilitation community. A morning’s work, including a walk up a hill in the misty rain (Victorian summer!) left us energised, not depleted. We had so much energy that we agreed our culture and plan for the next stage in about 15 minutes. Purpose is productive.

Then a dear friend, whose life purpose is to address the injustice of global poverty, sent me a reminder of the Power of Purpose in the exemplar of five global leaders as we marked International Women’s Day (thanks #StavZotalis).

And Justin Bieber? Apparently, he’s copped flack for the numbers writers and directors he used to create his new album, ‘Purpose’. As Montano and Shill point out, this just ‘…indicate(s) that Bieber can’t do it alone’ and that ‘…no album is ever the work of one sole genius.’

Similarly, no one member of a group, collaboration or partnership that’s come together on a social change initiative can do it alone, has all the talent or answers.

I’ve dismissed Bieber as candy pop and a teen idol. What a great reminder that visionaries ‘…often lie in places where we least look for them’.

Thinking about, looking for and articulating purpose has energised me in the past month and at the start of the working year. I hope it gives you a little lift too.

*both trainers with Zenergy Global