"The secret of success is constancy to purpose"

Benjamin Disreali

British Statesman


posted in Leadership

When it comes to achieving and sustaining success, having a clear vision and purpose is essential. Vision and purpose are similar in that they both provide direction and motivation, but they differ in meaningful ways.

Your vision is the big-picture, impactful goal you are working towards, while your purpose is the specific reason you are pursuing that vision. 

For example, when I was an Olympic Athlete, my vision was to be an Olympic Gold Medalist with the Men's Eight rowing team. My purpose was to test my physical, emotional and spiritual limits and stimulate maximum personal growth.

  1. One of my Executive Coaching clients is the Chief Administrative Officer of a city. His vision is to create a high-performance municipal culture full of trust and world-class communication. The city staff culture will be so outstanding that people will write books about it!  His purpose is to make his city a better place to live for all.
  2. Another client is the Chief Marketing Officer for a high-growth wealth management firm. His vision is for his organization to be among the most recognized wealth management brands in North America. His purpose is to serve the younger marketers in his department and support them to better their performance.
  3. A third client is the Chief Technology Officer at a mid-size tech firm and has the vision to have a replicable, scalable technology solution that speeds up customer service and reduces process headaches. His purpose is to develop skills that give him the freedom to live life on his own terms.

Identify your Personal Vision and Purpose - and then move into action!

To identify your vision and purpose, you need to think about 1) what you want to achieve (vision) and 2) what is important to you and why (purpose). Then, once you have identified and written these down, it's crucial to put both statements into action. This means creating a personal strategic plan to outline the steps needed to reach your goals.

For example, if you want to write a book, your vision might be to write a New York Times Bestseller. Your purpose could be to share your knowledge and help others learn from your experiences. In order to achieve this vision, you would need to develop a writing process, set daily or weekly writing goals, and find a supportive community of writers.

When it comes to setting your personal vision and purpose, there is no singular answer. Yet, I find it’s essential to pick one vision and purpose at a time, achieve it and in turn pivot to your next. 

I have found the methods below to be helpful to my clients in identifying their most pressing vision and purpose, and in doing so, clarifying their careers and life direction. 

The key element is that your vision and purpose are authentic to you and reflect concretely what you care about most. With your vision and purpose statements as your guidepost, you will find more fulfillment daily in your career and work more effectively towards the accomplishments you care most about achieving. 

How To Uncover Your Vision

Having a strong vision is a metaphysical skill that is fundamental if you want to maximize your leadership potential. You must detach from the physical and charge up your imagination to create a vision that will make an impact. Once the visioning process is done, you’ll return to the day-to-day to attack your work with inspiration.

Your new future starts with a deep personal connection to the outcome. You can't visioneer for others. It has to come from a heartfelt space of "I want this for myself and for the world." From there, you get creative about what's possible.

“Concerning all acts of initiative and creation there is one elementary truth — that the moment one definitely commits oneself then divine providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred and which no man could have dreamed would have come their way.” - W.H. Murray Scottish Mountaineer

Vision probing

One way to uncover your vision is to ask yourself questions about what is most important to you. 

For example:

  • What are your passions? 
  • What moves you? 
  • What are your values? 
  • What legacy do you want to leave? 
  • What do you want to create? 
  • What have you been part of creating? 
  • Who have you led to this point? 
  • Taking the time to answer these questions is how vision is seeded and created.

Future probing

Another way to identify your vision is to probe into your future and explore and plan from the present what you’d like your future to be like. 

Step 1: Take some time

Step 2: Close your eyes and picture your future. Sit in it.

Step 3: Spend time in your future. What does it look like? Feel like? Sound like?

Step 4: Write down the future you see. Do you want to change anything? What? Why? How?

Step 5: Post reminders in your house and workplace to focus on what matters most and any elements about your future you’ll begin work on today

Book Recommendation:

To supercharge your vision, boost your psychology and improve your metaphysical skillset digest the classic book The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz

How To Uncover Your Purpose

Purpose fuels courage and disowns fears.  Pick one of these methods, or combine them, to access your inner power and identify your purpose.

Take someone to lunch (or a zoom meeting!)

When I first joined the Canadian Olympic team, I was the youngest and slowest member of the team.  One of the first things I did when I arrived at the training centre was to ask the fastest member of the team at the time, a more senior and experienced rower, if I could take him out to lunch.  Any starving and underpaid Olympian will accept a lunch invite.  We went to lunch, and I asked him anything and everything I could about being the fastest member of the team.  What did he know that others didn’t?  Did he take on extra training sessions, what mental strategies did he employ, what did he eat, what was his sleep schedule, supplement regime, etc.?  I learned a lot and formed a friendship that continues today.  I also employed his strategies and, within 2 years, won the national championships in the pair and achieved the top ergometer score at the training center.

Find someone doing what you want to do and connect with them.  Generally, people love helping others and will be generous with their time if you’re proactive, respectful and hard working.

Ask yourself the following questions and take these steps to help identify and clarify your purpose:

  1. What do you want if you could do or have anything?
  2. Find others doing or who possess exactly this.  Search online, linked in, etc.
  3. Reach out to them.  Send 10 notes and someone will reply.  Connect, and ask them - what do they love about their current role or experience, what would they change, etc.
  4. Once you’ve identified your purpose, pursue it with vigour.  Ask yourself - what skills do you need to acquire to live your new purpose effectively?  How can you practice it daily?
  5. In 1 month, reassess.  Is your purpose serving you and does it still resonate as authentic and true?  Stick with it!  If not, drop it and go back to step 1. 

Creative Purpose Method

Stephen Kotler shares a helpful method in his book The Art of the Impossible.

Step One - Make a List

Write a list of 25 things you're curious about as specific as possible.

Step Two - Hunt for Intersections

Look for places where your curiosities intersect. Where multiple streams overlap, your brain is primed for innovative pattern recognition. Your brain releases dopamine when you recognize patterns - a highly addictive neurochemical. Dopamine helps you focus, detect more patterns, and helps you feel high on life.

Step Three - Play

Once you've identified the intersections, enjoy those spaces. Feed those curiosities on a daily basis with lectures, videos, articles, books, anything. Advance slowly and persistently so that your subconscious mind can process what you're learning over time. You'll develop expertise and intuition about the topics.

Step Four - Go Public

To get to the next stage you'll need public recognition. You've developed some ideas and now it's time to add to the discourse. This exchange will fuel your passion even more.

Step Five - Turning Passion Into Purpose

Make a new list with 15 colossal problems that you want to see solved. Write problems that have a universal scope as possible. The bigger the problem, the bigger your opportunity for fulfillment and extraordinary contribution.

More thoughts and resources on Purpose

Discovering your personal purpose is a lifetime journey. Many of my clients have made the mistake of believing that once they find themselves there is no further need to develop their personal purpose. This misunderstanding can be where disengagement or disaffection can creep in. We must constantly seek new experiences, knowledge and improvements, whether through projects, roles, rotations, mentors, education and so on. Every decision—every day of our being—is a decision on how we choose to act with personal purpose.

For more information on building a strong personal purpose that meshes with your organization or company read the book The Purpose Effect by Dan Pontefract.

Why Purpose is better than Passion

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ViDA Mission

We're on a mission to elevate your results in career and personal achievements - at for many, the most challenging stage in career and life. Accessing leadership support, high-performance tools, strategies and training, and consistent accountability, is essential for driven leaders.

Have you ever benefited from an executive coaching relationship before? Or considered how a coaching relationship can impact growth and sustainable achievement?

Adam's executive business coaching focuses on FOUR pillars:

  • Confirms you are oriented in the right direction, personally and professionally (direction)
  • Aligns personal and professional values to maximize achievement, results and career satisfaction (alignment)
  • Removes perceived barriers to growth and consistent accomplishment (lifts the brakes)
  • Builds leadership performance through new and enhanced skills and strategies (more gas)

We repeatedly see our coaching clients:

  • earn more money
  • gain more significant ownership stakes
  • address burnout and restore health
  • solve leadership anxiety
  • over-perform on business targets
  • better health: mental, physical, emotional
  • gain better work-self fit
  • boost employee engagement
  • adapt quickly to new leadership roles
  • stronger leadership outcomes
  • transition from role, retire successfully
  • increase impact, leave stronger legacy

If you think there is a fit worth exploring between Adam and your team, or anyone at your organization, we would love to connect.

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