How Leaders May Model a Purposeful Existence

How Leaders May Model a Purposeful Existence

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D., ACPEC


Our world is brimming with distractions, so finding meaning and purpose in life may seem like a daunting task. Yet, it is an essential pursuit, one that can lead to a more fulfilling and content existence. Whether it’s through personal growth, relationships, career, or contributing to the community, there are countless avenues to explore in the quest for a more purposeful life. Finding more purpose leads to higher levels of self-actualization, which is the ultimate need of human beings – to unlock one’s greatest potential and creativity. Doing so is living a purposeful life and for leaders, there are a few layers to accommodate.

This month, we explore the penultimate element from Martin Seligman’s PERMA model. In previous months we unpacked Positive emotions, Engagement, and Relationships. Now let’s dive into Meaning and living a purposeful existence. 

“Who You Are is More Important than What You Do”

– Dr. Leroy Olson, a (favorite) leadership professor at Temple University back in 1994


Understanding the Importance of Purpose

At its core, a sense of purpose gives our lives meaning. It provides direction, motivation, and a reason to get out of bed every morning. When we lack purpose, life can feel aimless and empty, leading to feelings of dissatisfaction and even depression.

Psychologist Viktor Frankl, who survived the horrors of the Holocaust, famously wrote, “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” Frankl believed that even in the most challenging of circumstances, finding meaning could help individuals endure and overcome almost any hardship.

Discovering Your Passions and Values

One of the first steps in finding more meaning in life is identifying your passions and values. What activities make you feel most alive? What causes are you deeply passionate about? Reflecting on these questions can help you uncover what truly matters to you.

Take the time to explore different activities and experiences. Try new things, whether it’s learning a new skill, volunteering for a cause you believe in, or traveling to a new destination. Pay attention to how these experiences make you feel and whether they align with your values. Not sure of your core values? There are some great exercises and inventories to help you understand your core values. One of the greatest mismatches of employees in organizations is when core values do not align with organizational values, so it’s worth a little time to gain clarity in this area; we can help with this if you’re stuck.

Cultivating Meaningful Relationships

Relationships play a significant role in our lives and can greatly contribute to our sense of purpose. Yes, there is some crossover from last month’s plunge into nurturing authentic relationships! Remember, we are social creatures. Cultivating meaningful connections with friends, family, and even colleagues can provide support, encouragement, and a sense of belonging.

Invest time and energy into building and maintaining relationships. Make an effort to connect with others on a deeper level, engage in meaningful conversations, and offer your support when needed. Surround yourself with people who uplift and inspire you, and don’t hesitate to distance yourself from those who drain your energy or bring negativity into your life. Boundaries, like values, are so important to understand and incorporate.

Finding Purpose in Your Work

For many people, finding purpose in their careers is essential for a fulfilling life. While not everyone has the luxury of pursuing their passion as a full-time job, finding meaning in your work is still possible. If you’re not familiar with the parable of the three stone-cutters, here’s a 2 minute listen to share with your team members, it’s a good one!: CLICK HERE FOR QUICK INSPIRING PARABLE

Consider how your skills and talents can be used to make a positive impact in your workplace or community. Whether it’s through helping others, solving complex problems, or creating something of value, finding purpose in your work can provide a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

Contributing to Something Greater Than Yourself

Finally, one of the most powerful ways to find meaning in life is by contributing to something greater than yourself. Whether it’s through volunteering, activism, or simply being kind to others, finding ways to make a positive impact in the world can give your life greater meaning and purpose.

Take the time to identify causes that are important to you and find ways to get involved. Whether it’s volunteering at a local shelter, raising awareness for a particular issue, or donating to a charitable organization, even small actions can make a significant difference.

The Three Layers Leaders Need to Accommodate

Not surprisingly, leaders have an even greater responsibility to help their teams find meaning and purpose. We adhere to the model recommended through Positive Intelligenceä which promotes “Triple Purpose” and is one of the four pillars of high-performing teams.

Definition of Triple Purpose – when a Leader inspires others to work towards their own self-actualization, helps teammates to do the same and positively impacts others.

And here’s a table that helps to show when triple purpose is low contrasted to when it is high. The parable of the stone-cutter again and when achieving triple purpose what a way to create profound company culture!

Triple Purpose

Here are a couple of quick tricks leaders may use to foster more meaning in activities and interactions:

  1. Set a positive intention prior. Being intentional to “begin with the end in mind” helps to manifest what is desired in terms of deliverables.
  2. An expansion of setting intentions is to empower team members to share their intentions first, then for leader to share intentions and then together to establish a collective intention or agreement. This is a powerful way to learn more about your team members and collaborate.

Finding more meaning and purpose in life is an ongoing journey, one that requires self-reflection, exploration, and a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone. By identifying your passions, cultivating meaningful relationships, finding purpose in your work, and contributing to something greater than yourself, you can create a more fulfilling and purposeful existence. And the trinity in creating “Triple Purpose” on teams will help build higher performance with sustained well-being. Life is what you make of it, so let’s make it meaningful! 

Interested in how you may embrace PERMA to amplify your well-being and performance? We have a special 14-session package designed for leaders at all levels. What we cover in these sessions may be applied at work and home, so there’s double the ROI! Topics we’ll cover and implement include forgiveness, gratitude, savoring, building optimism, leveraging strengths and much more. Our flagship Positive Intelligence program is also included and for a limited time, this package deal is available for $4995 per person until we fill available openings (a savings of more than $2000). 

Imagine having more meaning in your life and with your team – we can help you create more! To learn more, schedule a call with us:

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