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The Importance of Understanding Purpose

Purpose provides us context in the realm of Business. As an entrepreneur starting out, using purpose as our context brings advantages at every stage of activity–whether planning, execution or review.

1. Planning

At the planning stage, we are identifying opportunities. We are also identifying and evaluating possible risks. And we are selecting or dropping possible options. We may be looking to improve finances (such as increase profits / drive out costs). Or seeking to improve existing processes. At times we will be developing new strategy and tactics. But we compromise our ability to plan without using purpose as context.

Without purpose, the options we must consider may appear endless. Even more dangerous, we may choose a direction that does not align with our core values. It may not support our long-term vision; it may not even draw out the best short-term actions to put in place.

Consider Nokia’s fall from market domination following the iPhone launch. Nokia was “so immersed in executing its strategy that it lost sight of its purpose”. A stark reminder that things do go very wrong if we fail to consider our reason for being in business.

2. Execution

Execution marks the beginning of the journey proper. But we can only prepare for some eventualities. We will encounter unexpected changes to the business landscape. We will receive unexpected indicators or results as we journey towards out goals. And new or competing priorities entering our domain may push us further off balance.

During these times, our purpose remains the compass in which we keep our course. It allows us to decipher new information and either dismiss or incorporate it into our tactics. And purpose provides the critical benefit of adding resilience to us and our team as we act.

3. Review

It is common business practice to review our efforts upon completion of any significant activity. Capturing learnings is key to ongoing improvement. Yet the only way to measure outcomes is against the purpose for which it was set. Only then we may record the wins. And we may also evaluate if any setbacks were simply the price paid and not a genuine failure.

Identifying Your Purpose

This is a topic worthy of larger discussion. The above advantages do not explain exactly HOW we first define our purpose. Should we discover it? Or develop it?

My advice is to consider doing both. A purpose that makes you burn from the bottom of your feet provides many advantages, including clarity, resilience and drive. If you can discover a way to deliver the commercial or personal benefits you seek via your strongest passion, then you should pursue it. If not, be prepared to consider developing your purpose from a lesser interest.

We live in a quickly globalising economy. It is a competitive place. And this also brings increasing demands on our personal and professional life, often bringing them into conflict. Because of this, it is of greatest importance to always keep our core motivations (our purpose) in mind.

Purpose gives us the context to make the right decisions. To take full advantage of our ever-changing business landscape. To stay the course. To take advantage of the new trends. And to continually improve ourselves and our business.

You must define that purpose.

Then engage that purpose to deliver your business outcomes.

And if you doubt the impact this will have on your success – just ask Nokia.

About the author:

Mark Mudford is a Business and Leadership Coach, and an International Bestselling Author.

For additional information and all reference materials in this article, please go to


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