Think back to a time when your desire to accomplish something was so intense that you were unstoppable in your pursuit to achieve it.
Your motivation, engagement and energy were off the charts, coming from deep within your being. This internal or intrinsic drive is much less understood than its close cousin, extrinsic motivation, especially in the workplace. Yet this internal fire is far more powerful than the more traditional carrot approach.
I experienced this adrenaline rush and energy surge early on in life, and I was hooked. The personal fulfillment, engagement and joy that came from pursuing jobs, relationships and opportunities that were personally meaningful was addictive, and I became committed to helping others experience this same exhilaration.
A purpose is a deliberate choice to pursue a future-directed intention that is personally meaningful. My personal purpose is to help people find their wings. This is my compass, guiding my choices and my conversations and filling me with joy every time I watch a person spread their wings and fly.
Most of us tend to fall into one of three categories. A small number of people can easily articulate their personal purpose. A larger number have never actually expressed their purpose, but when pressed, know intuitively what drives them.
By far the largest group is those who have never even thought about what personally motivates them. Some seem to easily adopt someone else’s purpose — often that of an influential leader or a company — while the fourth category struggles to connect to an internal drive.
As a leader, I seek out people who fit into the first three categories. If they know or can identify their personal purpose in life, I try to help them find the symbiotic relationship between their compass and what they are doing at work. Imagine the motivation and engagement level of a workforce that sees a direct connection between what they do every day for their company and their personal purpose.
Find the light
You can tell that an employee is internally driven when they light up talking about what they are doing. I will always remember the moment a longtime employee got emotional after hearing a customer testimonial. It became personal when she realized she may have built the very machine a family was relying on to give their daughter the nutrients needed to survive and thrive.
She had always wanted to be a doctor, and at that moment, she realized she was living out her personal purpose to change lives, but through a different path. This amazing woman was not just assembling blenders, she was constructing life-giving machines.
Living with purpose ignites an internal drive, creates energy and fills us with joy. Research also shows that helping our employees live with purpose will increase their engagement and commitment to the organization, and improve their satisfaction with life. Making it personal and meaningful truly does make a difference. How can you ignite your internal fire through the work you do? ●
Jodi L. Berg, Ph.D., is president and CEO at Vitamix.