Parry Presenting 4

Finding your core purpose: a guide

Finding our core purpose, determining what you are going to focus your energy on, is more than a merely intuitive process.

It should be a carefully self-observed process in that the outcome will inform and direct your life for some time.

Let’s look at that process.

Parry presenting 2There are activities in our life that move us closer to achieving our purpose. Unsurprisingly these are the activities one should focus on most of the time to move effectively toward your purpose.

You can only plan on what you know and in an adaptable word, one thing we are sure of is that we just don’t know.

So we have to have a system where when something turns up we can evaluate it to determine if its another route to your purpose.

Learning and Experiencing

Take on activities that you wouldn’t normally do just for the learning experience and evaluate them after-the-fact.

Remember: this period is all about learning. The danger in setting a purpose at this stage is that by exploring other possibilities there is a chance that you may find a different purpose.

The purpose you would choose at this stage is based on your past experiences and your current passion. If at some time in that past, you had substantially different experiences, your purpose would undoubtedly be very different.

The key aspect of staying in an open state of taking in experiences is that it allows you to become very adaptive while determining your purpose.

In other organizations, you would often focus on your one core skill. In an adaptive world, people with one core skill do not survive. Adaptability means having a toolbox of many skills and tools and approaches but you have to take steps to expose yourself to them.

Fixing The Past

There are relationships that you have to repair. In times of change, that can happen quite a bit, but nonetheless, you have to clean those up. If you damaged situations or hurt people, you have to take responsibility. It’s not enough to say ‘oh well, that didn’t work, lets move on’. This is about taking personal responsibility for your actions and cleaning up your past.

There will be situations where it is irreparable, no matter the effort. However it’s important that you tried, the people affected know that you tried and recognize that you are aware that you made a mistake.

This is the route of personal integrity. You are responsible for the good things in your life and the bad things and we must work to reduce the bad things and learn from our errors. There is no shame in making mistakes but it is shameful not to learn from them and not trying to fix them shows that you lack integrity.

Implementing lean

When your purpose meets other’s purpose

You may spend time achieving someone else’s purpose or cleaning up someone else’s  mess. This is more than a distraction: the time you spend in such activity is time taken away from achieving your own purpose.

Such external issues can come in many forms: emotional blackmail from loved ones or working for an organization where your own purpose is subsumed in cleaning up other’s messes.

So you now have a choice when you sit down and think about where you’re going to focus your efforts: how you’re going to broaden your horizons, how you’re going to clean up relationships and establish better ones, and most importantly, how you determine that meeting someone else’s purpose fulfills your own.

As I hope I’ve made clear, finding your purpose is going to take careful planning. But then again, your purpose is worth it.

Biog Photo

Personal purpose key for changemakers and changemaking

When we start enterprise-wide change with our changemakers, not only are we looking for common purpose for the organization, we are looking for personal purpose with the changemaker.

The two phenomena are linked inextricably. Unless the changemaker’s purpose is aligned to the corporate purpose in terms of meaningful work, they will not have the strength or inclination to push through change. There will be a mismatch with the objective so the organization and their personal objectives will be a fruitless endeavour for both parties.

Stephen Parry Biog PhotoDetermining if the organization is worth changing and the company purpose worthy of their effort is something that has to be evaluated by the changemaker vis-a-vis their own personal purpose.

When we sit people down to consider their personal purpose, we are asking them to mull over what really drives their passion for life and what they are trying to achieve, wealth and health notwithstanding.

To what purpose are you committing your wealth, health and efforts? What is the meaningful work you’re looking for? Without such an exercise, we may only be making rich companies richer, setting up ourselves for noisy, furious work signifying nothing, to crib from Macbeth.


Finding purpose is one of the great things humans can do but it takes time, hard work and above all courage. Courage to identify exactly what purpose you’re committing to, courage to set out on that path, discipline to stay that course and refuel when needed.

Not to undercut the necessity for courage but sometimes that very quality is needed to recognize when your pursuit is not ‘true north’ and not a pure purpose.

Courage is key to change direction in the face of your best efforts to date and refocus your pure purpose and goals.


Surviving storms through adaptability and purpose

Adaptive leadership is all about learning and sharing but connecting those learning and sharing communities is all about making yourself more marketable. That adaptability, as well as your personally honed sense of purpose, can go a long way to ensuring that you survive a crisis.

Any change large and small is fraught with danger and in the business world, the various personalities and internal and external changes can throw you off course so much that you may not be able to recover.

silhouette-of-a-ship-in-water_fJWr-oO_This doesn’t mean you’re not a good change-maker. It  just means you, like anyone, can be overwhelmed by forces and storms far beyond your control.

Lets look at the 2008 financial crisis.

Many good managers and change-makers, and leaders lost their jobs during that turbulent time.

Finding themselves without work had nothing to say about how good a manager or leader they were.

The harsh circumstances and external climate and business conditions were just too much to weather. During storms like that we have to batten down the hatches and try to ride out the storm while simultaneously using these conditions to learn more, to study more to connect more, to get people to research your work.


Its at times like these – big seismic changes in the economy or internal changes of large proportions like mergers, acquisitions  or downsizing – that your own personal purpose will help see you through.

Your innate personal purpose is your compass to finding the right course through the squalls and storms ahead.

General Stanley

Adaptability also seen as key for military

I’ve been discussing and consulting on the vital relevance of Lean IT for some time now and seeing its principles rise to the fore in discussions of modern management trends.

Simply put, the value of business developing adaptability and deftness when it comes to dealing with rapid changes in their customer base, is of premium importance.

General Stanley McChrystal

General Stanley McChrystal

Still, it was a bit of a surprise to hear a recent            conversation between retired U.S. General Stanley   McChrystal and Jon Stewart on the American TV       program The Daily Show. Although ostensibly           discussing his new book, Team of Teams: New         Rules of Engagement for a Complex World,               McChrystal’s insights into contemporary military  culture dovetailed quite a bit with the principles of  Lean and Agile.

They were discussing the challenge of dealing with I.S.I.S., an enemy that doesn’t fight by conventional strategies and not always with conventional weapons. McChrystal described them as a 21st century organization that moves quickly and uses digital communication to “tie their enemies in knots”. Alternately, he saw the U.S. as a country that harnesses new tech with “late 19th and early 20th century organizational style and processes”.

Turning to the business world for comparison, he imagined a scenario where competition from ‘garage startups’ and such can’t be managed via the corporate ‘very efficient, very wired’ processes they’ve relied on to date. “Because you can’t predict the future, you’ve got to walk in being adaptable and gear yourselves and your organizations that way.

“We’re going to have to adapt constantly and iterate. You better learn every day because that’s the world we’re in.”

“What i see in business now is a daily struggle to stay in business so there tends to be more adaptability. That’s not true in every business because we see big names falling because they haven’t changed.”

It was a bit startling to hear the necessity of adaptability coming from an experienced military strategist like McChrystal but not surprising at all that the rate of change in technology has led him to the same conclusion that we have.

Implementing lean

I don’t mean to compare the challenges faced by a military against the barbarity of I.S.I.S. to that of business’ challenges in the marketplace. What is common in both, however, is the value of being able to react to emergent situations on-the-fly, the need to adapt rapidly to a situation and the need to build a team of adaptive individuals working within equally adaptive organizational structures.

For many business-related cultures, the pace of change has led organizations to value adaptability as much as ability. And as long as technology and change are the new constant, it’s not likely to change any time soon.