Ever wonder what the heck your purpose is?
You’ve got a little business that you’d like to grow and sometimes you wonder if anyone really cares, right?
If what you’re doing matters in the larger scheme of things?
If what you have to offer would ever prompt someone to say, “Please, take my money. I love your thing and I’ll be back for more.”
I totally get it. I’ve had those days, too.
Part of the reason we feel this way is that there’s so much advice telling us to connect our business with our “deeper purpose in life.”
Maybe you’ve heard that your mission needs to be aligned with your passions, values and yes — even your Big Vision?
Bottom line: You’ll impact others whether you want to or not.
Your existence is part of a bigger eco-system. Therefore, your purpose is to BE YOU. Full out. Both feet in. Head and heart.
If you’re new around here, let me reiterate my philosophy:
Look, I’m no Frank Capra, but I do believe that none of us lives in a vacuum.
And if a butterfly’s wings can flutter and kick off a sequence of events that results in a hurricane thousands of miles away, then YOU, my friend, are capable of so much more.
Here’s a fabulous video that illustrates what I mean:
Are you a wolf? No, of course not. But you do live in a world where even the smallest actions cause change.
To the extent that you interact with those around you, you will have an impact — one way or another.
What sort of impact — how big or how deep — is up to you.
So stop wondering if what you have to offer is worthwhile.
If it’s worthwhile to you, then it’s worth going deeper.
The next step is figuring out what’s worthwhile to you.
First: Follow the clues.
I learned early on that one of my many purposes is to help you clarify and magnify yours.
I figured this out by looking for and paying attention to clues:
- My favorite stories and films share a common theme: that one person can make a difference.
- I get teary-eyed when I see and hear about the positive impact a project has on others — even if I’m not involved.
- I’m deeply troubled whenever I hear someone say, “Why bother? Whatever I do won’t matter anyway.”
Knowing what I know about myself helps me better understand my current business mission and vision.
In other words, I’m not here just to help you (or possibly my employer) make more money. For me, it’s about helping people see that everything little thing they do matters.
It’s about empowering you with the skills you need to tell better stories. So whether you want to have a wider impact or a deeper impact (or both), you can.
Because when you change the world (even just your tiny piece of it), I get to change the world, too.
How do you choose what to focus on if you’ve got several ideas?
Which of your many passions makes the most sense to follow? Which soap box should you stand on?
It’s simple: you pick one (for now) and do the work.
Don’t let Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) on a Big Purpose keep you from getting traction with your business.
It’s way more important get traction with one thing because that momentum will spill over into the other projects you (eventually) choose to add to your life.
So let me say it again: You pick one thing and you give it your undivided attention for about 10,000 hours.
Yes, even if you’re a polymath. Or a multipotentialite. (Hobbies are a good thing! They help you live a balanced life.)
The truth is that you might not have one true calling or purpose in life. Many of us don’t. But you’ll get a lot further if you take them on one at a time.
The more time you’re able to devote to one thing, the quicker you’ll find out whether or not you’re on the right path.
So whatever your idea is, explore it. Talk about it with others. Write about it. Pay attention and see how it resonates with others.
And in the meantime, get on with the business of doing the best damn job you can with what’s in front of you.
Keep your promises. Show people that you care. Pay attention to details.
Even if that’s with something as mind-numbing as data entry or processing loan documents.
Do it with both feet in. Head and heart.
Giving whatever you’re doing your full attention — even in places where you don’t think it matters — can have a big impact. On you as well as others.
If you do both of these things — focus on building one thing while serving with your whole self — you’re bound to find at least one of your Big Purposes along the way.
Remember: “A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” —Jean de la Fontaine
Speaking of loan documents…
If all goes well, in three days Mr. Perfect and I will be the proud owners of a new home. (Not to jinx it, but WOO HOO!)
If you’ve ever bought a house before, you know how crazy the process is…how it can turn people you love into people you don’t recognize.
Of course, I blame most of the crazy-making this round on the mortgage company.
Yes, the laws about home loans changed in January, but that doesn’t mean the underwriters haven’t had time to prepare.
Time to consider how tighter documentation policies might impact their customers.
Time to strategize how they might address these things in a proactive way so that folks aren’t blindsided and pushed over the psychological edge.
We aren’t first-time home buyers, so we knew it wasn’t going to be a cake-walk. But COME ON.
Every time we looked sideways, we were being asked to provide new documents.
It became so onerous that at three different points, MP told me he was done. Finis. “We’ll just be renters,” he said.
What if this was your company? What if your customer decided to walk away from the deal because of details you weren’t paying attention to?
Ripple effects! For big impacts, tiny details can make all the difference.
How to make small improvements that matter:
1. Anticipate what might go wrong. No, I don’t expect you to be psychic, but if you’ve been doing your thing for any length of time (and you’ve been paying attention), you’ve probably seen some stuff go sideways. Make a list of what’s gone wrong in the past and pay special attention to those times that the gaffs happened more than once. Then create a plan to mitigate them.
In my case, the mortgage company wasn’t clueless about the new laws. They knew things were going to get tricky. And they had a few months leeway to think about how the changes might affect the application and approval process of their customers.
2. Put yourself in your client’s shoes. What’s it feel like to do business with you? Is that a different experience than the one they might have with your competitor? What does your customer need to feel comfortable and cared for through the process? What would you like to have happen if the roles were reversed?
3. Establish expectations. If you’ve thought through your on-boarding process — and especially what might go wrong along the way — you can help your customers anticipate potential potholes by giving them a heads up. This is especially true if your customers have gone through a similar process before (that other vendor they worked with has now established their expectations of you).
In our case, it could’ve been as simple as a providing us with a list of documents that we might be asked to provide. Or even just a conversation that went something like this:
Hey, just want you to be prepared — the documentation laws for home loans were tightened up recently. We’re not exactly sure how this will affect you, but you should know that it might get a little nuts. We’ll do everything we can to ease the pain, so please be patient.
Instead, what we got was a new surprise “ask” every day. “Oh, the Underwriter needs this. Sorry, the Underwriter needs that.” I truly wondered at one point if they were singling us out for some reason. (I had NO idea about the new laws until I complained to our Realtor.)
4. Check in and see how they feel. Your clients may not complain to you directly when they’re feeling ignored or lost. It’s your job to ask.
Getting feedback along the way is crucial if you want any chance of blowing your customers’ minds with how awesome you are. Depending on the type of project you’re working on together, you’ll want to check in with them about once every 30 days. And definitely get more detailed feedback when you wrap up.
5. Deliver the goods and then some. It should go without saying that you need to keep your promises. And it’s a sad state of affairs when we have to add this last point to the list. But how often have you had someone not respond to an email or return a phone call? Simple things, right? But they mean a lot to your prospects and customers.
6. Put your heart into everything you do. Your love — for your business, your customers and the outcomes you’re in service to — shows up whether you want it to or not. And when you stand in that place of love and service, you’ll naturally find the groove (your Purpose!) that allows you to do your best work.
Your turn! When was the last time you were served by someone who knew that every detail made the difference? Have you found your Purpose or do you think it matters? Share your thoughts with us below.
This post is part of the February Word Carnival. Our theme this month is Service. You can read the rest of the awesome advice here.