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INSIGHTS BLOG

INSIGHTS BLOG

Purpose Driven Leadership

Leadership, My Life's Work

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He said it, and I had to respond.  

When my son was contemplating the summer between his junior and senior year at the University of Wisconsin, he confided in me that he was NOT going to search out an internship.

“Dad,” he said, “I’m thinking about staying in Madison with my friends.  I don’t want to be 50 years old and think back did I miss this last opportunity to be with my college friends.”

I had to respond.  I had, after all achieved that 50 year old milestone!

“I can guarantee you one thing son,” I responded, “at 50 the last thing you will be thinking about is your last summer in Madison.  I guarantee you WILL be thinking ‘Did I accomplish all that I could?  Did I fulfill my potential?  Did I pursue my life’s purpose with all I had?’”

Business and life always come back to purpose.  Leaders are purpose driven.  Estee Lauder, Walt Disney, Sam Walton, and David Packard, for example.


It is your purpose that secures your life’s work.

Define Your Purpose

To achieve your life’s work you need to escape the tyranny of the urgent today.

Estee Lauder and Walt Disney approached each day with energy, focus, and purpose.  Sam Walton and David Packard were purposefully centered on a cause that was bigger than today’s quarterly results.

They were driven by purpose, and as such, each of these leaders built an enterprise that lives on far beyond themselves.

Purpose Defines The Reason For Being

In 1960, in a speech by David Packard to Hewlett-Packard’s training group, he said, “I want to discuss why a company exists in the first place. In other words, why are we here? I think many people assume, wrongly, that a company exists simply to make money. While this is an important result of a company’s existence, we have to go deeper and find the real reasons for our being.”

Packard continued, “Purpose (which should last at least 100 years) should not be confused with specific goals or business strategies (which should change many times in 100 years). Whereas you might achieve a goal or complete a strategy, you cannot fulfill a purpose; it’s like a guiding star on the horizon—forever pursued but never reached. Yet although purpose itself does not change, it does inspire change. The very fact that purpose can never be fully realized means that an organization can never stop stimulating change and progress.”

He said it, and I had to respond.  

When my son was contemplating the summer between his junior and senior year at the University of Wisconsin, he confided in me that he was NOT going to search out an internship.

“Dad,” he said, “I’m thinking about staying in Madison with my friends.  I don’t want to be 50 years old and think back did I miss this last opportunity to be with my college friends.”

I had to respond.  I had, after all achieved that 50 year old milestone!

“I can guarantee you one thing son,” I responded, “at 50 the last thing you will be thinking about is your last summer in Madison.  I guarantee you WILL be thinking ‘Did I accomplish all that I could?  Did I fulfill my potential?  Did I pursue my life’s purpose with all I had?’”

Business and life always come back to purpose.  Leaders are purpose driven.  Estee Lauder, Walt Disney, Sam Walton, and David Packard, for example.

It is your purpose that secures your life’s work.

Define Your Purpose

To achieve your life’s work you need to escape the tyranny of the urgent today.

Estee Lauder and Walt Disney approached each day with energy, focus, and purpose.  Sam Walton and David Packard were purposefully centered on a cause that was bigger than today’s quarterly results.

They were driven by purpose, and as such, each of these leaders built an enterprise that lives on far beyond themselves.

Purpose Defines The Reason For Being

In 1960, in a speech by David Packard to Hewlett-Packard’s training group, he said, “I want to discuss why a company exists in the first place. In other words, why are we here? I think many people assume, wrongly, that a company exists simply to make money. While this is an important result of a company’s existence, we have to go deeper and find the real reasons for our being.”

Packard continued, “Purpose (which should last at least 100 years) should not be confused with specific goals or business strategies (which should change many times in 100 years). Whereas you might achieve a goal or complete a strategy, you cannot fulfill a purpose; it’s like a guiding star on the horizon—forever pursued but never reached. Yet although purpose itself does not change, it does inspire change. The very fact that purpose can never be fully realized means that an organization can never stop stimulating change and progress.”

Stimulating Change and Progress

As you think about what you have built throughout your career, I know you could fill an entire journal listing the changes you ushered in the business to create progress. And you’ve learned a lot of lessons all the while.

Can you imagine your business thriving for the next 100 years?  But don’t stop there.  Can you envision employees of your company 50 years from now referring to the lessons you passed on to stimulate change and progress? 

These lessons come from your core beliefs.

Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota believed “There is nothing that can’t be done.  If you can’t make something, it’s because you haven’t tried hard enough.”  This belief lives on as a core value of Toyota that says “We believe that if you can dream it you can do it.”

Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart believed “There is only one boss.  The customer.  And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”  This belief continues to guide the Walmart culture grounded in the first of the company’s four values, Customer First: Listen to, anticipate and serve customer wants and needs.

The point, your life’s work lives on in the business through purpose and the lessons you pass on to the next generations.

Your Life’s Work Success Path Begins By Defining Your Purpose

Here are some key milestones you will want to work through as you define your purpose:

  1. Create a manifesto of your beliefs
  2. Purposefully center your organization around your WHY
  3. Articulate the most important business lessons for the next generation to consider
  4. Define the state of the business on the day you transition out of your leadership role
  5. Communicate your greatest hope for the business’ next generation

Purpose will be the most enduring aspect of your life’s work and is the first part of the My Life’s Work success path.  In our next post I’ll share the second part so you can continue your journey of securing your life’s work.

Dirk Beveridge

Dirk Beveridge

Founder | UnleashWD

You don’t have to be alone as you anchor Your Life’s Work for the next generation.

My Life’s Work is the world’s only program for distribution executives ready to secure their life’s work.  Through a series of innovative quarterly coaching retreats, you are provided a system to set your business trajectory for relevance, profitability, and success before transitioning to the next generation.

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