CAL Tip #15: Define Your Purpose, Your Why

As I’ve written these tips, I’ve offered possible ways to see your actions and maybe even your life. That’s because adaptability is the ability to recognize an altered situation. (Our resilience is how fast we are able to choose other actions to respond to that altered situation.)

I need to consider my “why,” my purpose, when I think about which possibilities to choose. I ask myself these questions:

  1. What do I want for myself, for my daily, weekly, monthly, yearly life?
  2. What do I want to do to serve others (in some way)?
  3. How can I then create the conditions so I can get what I want, and serve others?

Maybe I’m strange (okay, I am), but I need a purpose for my life. My purpose has evolved throughout my life. Here’s how my purpose has evolved:

  • As a software developer, to create great products.
  • As a tester, to expose issues. And, help people see that “QA” was not assurance.
  • As a project manager, facilitate the deliverables. This is when I realized I needed more interpersonal skills.
  • As a program manager, facilitate the program’s deliverables and help senior management realize what they would and would not get.
  • As a manager, serve the people I led.
  • As a spouse and parent, continue working on those interpersonal skills. (Yes, you see a theme here.)
  • As a consultant, support my clients through improvement, in the ways they needed.
  • As a writer, offer education, inspiration, and a little humor so people can see and act on what I wrote.

That’s a lot of purpose. Yes, I continue to work on my interpersonal skills. I have not mastered them yet. I still work on my spouse/parenting skills, although what my children need has changed significantly over time. (This is an excellent thing.)

I change my life. Sure, life changes me (the vertigo thing). I choose to take that change and decide what to do next.

A purpose for me isn’t enough. I need a purpose that includes a greater community. My community includes the agile community, leaders, managers, my clients, other consultants, you name it.

You don’t need a big audacious goal. You don’t have to change the world. In fact, I’ve found that when I start with me, and maybe a few people around me, I’m more successful.

You don’t need a large community to serve. Maybe your community is your family and your religious community. Or, your local school system. Or, the animal shelter.

However, my why, my purpose, has to be something larger than just me. I suspect your purpose is larger than you, also.

Once you know your purpose, you can use all the other tips in this series to get what you want and to serve others. If it fits for you, let me know how you have defined your purpose.


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