One of the most frequent phrases I tell myself is to, “Work With Purpose.”
Every day, I am given the chance to do something meaningful and make a difference for others. Through coaching and consulting, I help my clients break through their mental barriers and experience a real and lasting transformation.
But there’s more to it than that.
I remind myself that working with purpose affects every area of life.
The way I parent.
How I interact with my spouse.
The type of community member I am.
Where I spend my free time and volunteer hours.
Each and every component of who I am gets run through the grid of what it means to work with purpose. To help me stay focused, I ask myself three primary questions.
Question One: Does it bring meaning and purpose?
Behind this question is the idea of joy in the work I do. It reminds me to engage with work that I deem as significant.
Question Two: Does it bring long-lasting consequences?
Want to live a wasted life? Think only in terms of short-term, instant-gratification results.
Want to work with purpose? Think long term. Now thing longer.
I’m not talking about six months or a year. I’m talking 10, 20, or 50 years from now. Some of the decisions I make today are because I’ve intentionally thought about the effect this may have on my grandkids when they are working.
My actions are filtered through an eternal perspective.
To work with purpose, I think less in terms of what feels good now, and instead how good discipline in the moment, however unwanted, produces long-term fruit that can be harvested for several generations.
Question Three: Does it help someone else?
This last question is about service. I don’t want to engage in work that is only (or even predominately) self-service. I want to help others. One of the clearest calls and commands in my life is that I am here for the benefit of others.
It’s why I coach, teach, consult, podcast, parent, write, speak, and volunteer.
I want my work to be filled with meaning and purpose.
I want it to bless those that come after me
And I want it to have an immediate impact on those around me.
That’s what it means to engage in work with purpose.
Those were the words my client told me over the phone.
Frustrated and agitated, he was lamenting the increasing toll his recent promotion was taking on him. The commutes were longer, the workdays were more exhausting, the stress was mounting.
“Was the pay increase really worth this?” he continued. “Sure, the pay is great, but what’s the point if I can’t enjoy it. Worse than that, I barely see my family anymore!”
Perhaps you can relate.
Maybe you’ve had one of the “crazy weeks.” (Wait…isn’t every week like that???)
My advice remains the same now as it was then: start with the big rocks.
Determine Your Big Rocks
I remember hearing of a study once that examined the student’s ability to properly fill an aquarium full of rocks. There were various sizes of rocks from tiny pebbles to larger foundational rocks.
As the story goes (at least as it was reported to me), the college students started dumping rocks, starting with the small one first to fill the bottom evenly.
By the time they got to the big rocks, not everything would fit.
In contrast to this, the kindergarten students started with the big rocks and everything looking messy. But, as they poured each successively smaller version of rocks in, they filled all the gaps.
The result? The college students “failed” the experiment by not fitting in all of their assigned rocks. In contrast to this, the kindergarten students passed because all of the rocks fit.
And while dozens of life lessons could be learned from this, this is why I push my clients to start with the big rocks.
When we start with the big rocks of life, we end up having room for everything. Work is undoubtedly an important part of life, but is it our biggest rock? Probably not. (At least it shouldn’t be…)
Family, self-care, personal growth, and close relationships are all things that should take up the foundation of who we are. Hobbies and work probably come next. Small rocks include the minor areas of life that take up some time but should never take too much.
As we gain clarity on what our big rocks are, we can easily see what is out of balance with our life pace.
Learning From My Kids
One of the things I’ve learned to implement is a lesson from my four children. If I leave the house and I hear, “Bye, dad! I can’t wait to see you later!” there is a good chance that things are going well. If, on the other hand, I hear, “Noooooo. Daddy, don’t go!” followed by weeping and gnashing of teeth, I know that my priorities for work are starting to take up too much time.
In those moments, I work diligently to reshape my schedule to spend more time with my family.
Thankfully, I’m getting better at this and starting to hear those sounds of disappointment less.
But it all starts with having clarity.
Clarity on the key values for my life.
Conviction on what matters most.
Commitment to live a life shaped by honoring my values more than worldly demands.
But I can only do that when I start with the big rocks.
Question For Discussion: What might be something you would say to someone struggling with work-life balance? Leave a comment below!
Welcome to the LeaderQuest Podcast Episode 8. This week we are talking about ways to bring passion and purpose to our work.
Work takes up a significant portion of our week. Add on to that family, self-care, hobbies, andlife’s unexpected moments and you’re probably feeling overworked.
But the problem is not really our work. While some may need to focus on working less (those chronically overworked includes those regularly working 50 hours a week or more), the much more likely scenario is that you need to bring more passion and purpose to your work.
Join Elise and I this week as we talk about this topic.
What does it mean to work with passion and purpose?
How can you cultivate?
What are some easy hacks to get the momentum going?
“Hieb, this isn’t going to happen again. We’re going to get him next time. Set the goal. Focus on it. Put your energy into it.”
Those were the words from my high school wrestling coach after a tough loss. A regional match my junior year set me into a favorable matchup for state placing.
I was wrestling Blake, a decent wrestler from a school less than an hour away. My record was better. My skills were better. My coaching was better. I was set. A quick win and I was off to state, ranked in the top ten.
Given all those advantages, I overlooked Blake to prepare for state the next weekend.
Blake beat me. On a late third period comeback, he got a reversal and won 8-7. My failure to prepare for the object right in front of me meant that my end destination was changed. Instead of a favorable seeding in the state tournament, I was on the outside looking in.
That loss took me out of the top ten and into the bottom four. I faced the number two wrestler in the state (and eventual state winner) in the first round and lost. Then in the losers bracket, I lost again.
What had started as a promising season ended in bitter defeat. 0-2 in the state tournament and a long offseason to think about the final thirty seconds of a match that was still eating away at me.
That’s when coach pulled me aside and told me to write my goals down for next season. Even in the pain and through the tears, focus on where I wanted to go. How did I want my senior season to end? How did I want to be remembered?
Begin With The End in Mind
That day, I wrote down three goals to focus on:
1.) Beat Blake
2.) Make it to state
3.) Set the school record in reversals.
For an entire year, those were my goals. Every extra practice. Every meal. Every weight training session.
“Beat Blake” became my mantra.
At the start of the next wrestling season, Coach Z put my goals on the board for everyone to see. Now, I was accountable to the entire team.
Every day at 3:30, the music would start, the reps would begin and my entire focus became to “Beat Blake.”
The final regular-season tournament of the season pitted me against Blake in the championship match, with regional and state seeding positions on the line. As I stepped on to the mat, Coach Z pulled me aside, “You’ve worked a year for this match. It’s time to finish.”
Three minutes later, I stepped off the mat and something along the lines of, “Rabid Wolverine” was hurled at me as they raised my arm in victory. From a close loss to a dominating win, I finished my objective and beat Blake.
Goals Create Clarity
Goals create clarity. Put another way, when we begin with the end in mind, we know what we’re aiming for.
By creating focus, instilling discipline, and getting clear on our life ambition, we know how to put a plan in place to help us reach our ultimate destination.
Or, think of it this way: As you near the end of your life, sit in your favorite rocking chair on the front porch of your house, answer these three questions:
1.) What are you glad you accomplished?
2.) What do you want to be remembered for?
3.) What are some of the things you’re most thankful for?
I’ve never coached someone who has answered those questions, “I think I need to spend more time at work.” Or, “My life would be better if I’d burn the candle at both ends a bit more.” Or, “Everyone wins if I’d ignore my family more for a few more late nights of office paperwork.”
Instead, when we think about where we want to end up, we then know how to create the plan to get us there.
I often tell people that coaching is a lot of “reverse engineering.” We get clear on where we want to go and why that’s important to us. Then we create the “how” piece of the puzzle.
We begin with the end in mind and then create the roadmap to success.
Working With Passion and Purpose
Work is a large part of our everyday lives. Whether your work is as a stay at home parent, a business executive, an entrepreneur, or as a skilled service provider. Whatever it is that you have been called to for “work” at this stage of life is vital. For you. For your family. For your employees. For the economy.
God has created you to not just work but work with meaning.
This is accomplished by getting clear on what makes our work significant. We do that by knowing where we want to end up in life, and what makes that important to us. We bring purpose to our work when we begin with the end in mind.
When we know the how and why of our work, the rest becomes clear. When we know where we want to end up, we know how to create a plan that will get us there. When we begin with the end in mind, we will spend our days on tasks that help us “Beat Blake” every time we need to.