Think of something you really like doing at work … it can be anything.
Got it? Great.
Now take a moment to think of why you like doing that “thing” so much … why?
Question: do you like doing that “thing” because at some level it corresponds with something so fundamental to who you are, that it resonates in you? And to follow on, do you do that “thing” well? Does it come naturally to you?
This short exercise demonstrates the natural link between things you really like doing and who you truly are (i.e. your core values or aspirations). More generally, this phenomenon equates to aligning what you do (your Performance) with who you are and why you do it (your Purpose), enabling you to unlock your Potential on a daily basis.
“Potential” is defined in the Oxford Living Dictionaries as “latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness“. Not very exciting … at least not to me. Here’s my definition: “Potential” is the “limitless possibilities that can result from aligning what you do with who you truly are“. Now that is inspiring! It’s also a direct path to becoming a better version of yourself.
Now imagine aligning all your daily work tasks with who you are, especially the tasks you don’t like doing. “It won’t work”, says my brother Simon who went through the same exercise. “I don’t like doing certain things precisely because they don’t align with who I am! I’ll never like doing admin or taxes for instance.”
“You can if you want to”, I reply. “It’s a question of mindset!”. What follows are the examples I gave him to illustrate the point…
I run my own business and do a lot of admin. Do I like it? No. But when I align doing the admin with the fact it’s a necessary part of running a business – which in turn employs people I really like, who use their time and energy to help people around the world become the best versions of themselves, I end up feeling good about it. I align Performance (doing the admin) with Purpose (a desire to change the world) to unlock Potential; my own and in others.
When the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team were going through a bad patch in 2004, they aligned Performance with Purpose in six words: “Better People Make Better All Blacks“. According to James Kerr in his wonderful book “Legacy”, this mantra served to radically change a belief system that had disconnected the team from what had made them great over time. They looked at who they were as individuals, as All Blacks, as New Zealanders, and why they were playing rugby in the first place. They aligned Performance with Purpose and went on to win back-to-back Rugby World Cups in 2011 and 2015.
Ester Ledecka was the first athlete in 90 years to win gold in two different sports at the same Winter Olympic Games: in skiing and snowboarding. When interviewed after the second gold medal run she said she concentrated on being herself and having fun, be it in training or during the races. Ester aligned Performance with Purpose and become an instant global star.
The Transport for London (“TfL”) network employs 28,000 people. Its purpose is to: “keep the city moving, working and growing, and make life in London better”. Staff see the direct consequence of their work as making life better for people, and you just need to experience the London transport system to understand the buy-in and efficiency compared to many other world cities. They combine Performance with Purpose to help make London the great city it is today.
Google’s company philosophy is: “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world“. The Vice-President of People Development at Google continues: “It’s less about the aspiration to be N°1 in the world, and more that we want our employees and future employees to love it here, because that’s what’s going to make us successful“. Google align Performance with Purpose as the pathway to their success, and have regularly been voted as the top company to work for by Great Place to Work Institute and Fortune Magazine.
As I finish reeling off example after example, my brother sits quietly, deep in thought …