Mark Twain’s quote below must make us all stop and think. Personally, professionally, at home, and at work…. WHY are we doing what we are doing?
This section of Shiftability steps in to help us all explore WHY we are involved in this very complex, very trying, very perplexing, world of “selling stuff”. Over the years as I have had chances to talk with literally thousands of individuals that are professionals at what we do, I most typically find that the REAL reason that they all get up and face the myriad of “no” responses that they may face, they actually do so because deep in their heart their greatest desire is to “help others”. Keep digging, beyond all of the other “reasons” and you will most likely get to this crux of the matter. So the paradigm of serving vs selling is an easy shift to help “salespeople” make. Those that truly understand what we are all up to understand very clearly that our highest success rate and biggest impact for EVERYONE is through “serving”. Back to the deeply seeded roots for making a difference…
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So let's dig into our personal PURPOSE discussion. Next week we will explore corporate PURPOSE and what that all looks like.
From Shiftability comes….
Understanding My Purpose as an Individual
Mark Twain said, "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."
Wondering why we are here is fundamental to the human condition. It’s a profound moment when we start to catch a glimpse of just what our purpose might be. This discovery is the starting point of living an intentional life aligned to your purpose.
Many authors are wiser than we are have written extensively on the notion of personal purpose and living a purposeful life. There’s a lot to be said – more than we will attempt to cover here. But there are a few points we would like to make.
As a sales professional, your sense of individual purpose is central to your success and effectiveness. If you don’t have an understanding of your own purpose, you need to take the time to identify and define it for yourself. Understanding your purpose is not just a process of discovery and recognition; it’s also a process of declaration and decision.
For some, there is an obvious natural gifting and calling to be stepped into. For the rest of us, the purpose is more about choices and determining how we want our story to play out. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich wrote, “What a different story men would have to tell if only they would adopt a definite purpose and stand by that purpose until it had time to become an all-consuming obsession!”
We like this simple diagram that illustrates how the different spheres of your existence overlap and intersect. In this perspective, your purpose is found at the intersection of your passion, mission, profession, and vocation.
These are some common elements of individual purpose:
- Fulfilling work (and the greatest fulfillment often comes from serving)
- Providing for self/family
- Learning and growing
- Reaching personal potential
- Leaving a legacy
- Making a difference
This last point brings us back to Spence and Rushing’s definition of purpose being a statement made about the “difference we are trying to make in the world.”
Jackie Robinson said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
What kind of difference do you want to make? This is a question you should ask both personally and professionally – because you can make a difference as a sales professional.
Understanding the Purpose of My Role
William Damon, Director of Stanford University's Center on Adolescence and leading scholar of human development, defines purpose as "a stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at once meaningful to the self and of consequence to the world beyond the self.”
Moving out from purpose at more of an existential level, we come to the purpose of the role you are in. You likely have more than one role. You may be an applications engineer or salesperson but likely you are also a parent or a spouse or a mentor or caregiver and so on. Your purpose is of consequence beyond yourself.
The nature of functional purpose is often more concrete and more easily defined than our existential purpose. You can start with your job description. Why were you hired? What expectations do you need to meet?
Here are some elements of purpose in a sales professional role:
- To get the right products to the people who need them
- To help clients discover opportunities to improve
- To help clients solve problems
- To create value
- To deliver insight
- To provide solutions
- To help your company meet its purpose
- To help your client meet their purpose
This is perhaps the most important question to ask: How can you help both your clients and your company serve their purpose?