In previous posts in this series, we’ve talked about getting a new profile picture and trying to make ourselves more discoverable through search and social media. Now it’s time to focus on our professional purpose and why we do what we do.
Simon Sinek and his Ted Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, has been seen over 22 million times in large part because his simple mantra of starting with “why”, is a powerful but often overlooked first step towards success in any area of life.
Nearly all of us have to work right? We have to work to pay the bills, pay off university loans, save into our pension funds, afford to go out, go on vacation and have a bit of fun while we’re not working.
If we know we have to work and that might be a 40, 60, 80 hour week, there has to be more to what we’re doing than just earning money. What helps us get out of bed in the morning? What helps us be better at what we do? What is it that separates us having just a job and having a career? What helps us live, strive and survive?
It has to be more than a paycheck. We need to have a professional purpose. Without a purpose there can be no planning and we limit the possibility of channeling our future in the direction we desire.
My story started way back when at school when I realized I had a talent for acting, singing, and writing. School plays, music festivals, talent shows etc. all saw me pouring my heart and soul into something I knew I was good at. Doing drama at university was an obvious next step and the bright lights of London and theater/TV/film land beckoned after 3 years honing my craft at college.
I then spent 6 years in limbo selling teddy bears at Harrods and failing miserably at getting real acting jobs. That was a horrible time until I decided (at the age of 29) that I needed a new career. The internet was pretty new so I did a course in HTML and blagged an editor role at the search engine directory LookSmart. My job involved writing 55 website reviews every day – short, punchy descriptions of what users might find if they clicked on the link. Soon after I got promoted to traffic manager helping our European sales people get display ads live across the LookSmart network.
After LookSmart folded in 2003 and I spent some time at a digital agency, Microsoft came calling and I spent the next best seven years of my career evolving into an evangelism role. This meant more writing, speaking, video creation and other ways to communicate to an audience looking to be informed and inspired.
It was during those years that the penny dropped. My desire to act and write had little to do with being famous or earning loads and loads of money. What I really enjoyed and what got me out of bed was the love of communicating, inspiring and educating people and businesses to do their very best work.
I wanted people to have a great experience.
I wanted to help people.
I wanted others to be successful.
And so my professional purpose was born:
To inspire and educate people and their businesses to be successful by applying digital marketing strategies that focus on Social Media, Digital PR and Personal Branding.
During my time helping some executives and individuals with their personal brands, I’ve talked to some who aspired to be architects but who now build successful businesses. I’ve met some who felt working with children was their calling but they’ve turned out to be exceptional people managers or HR directors. And there are others who, while there were young, wanted to be engineers because they loved tinkering with things and have now found successful careers as journalists who uncover problems and make sense of our world for us through their detective work.
In order to establish your professional purpose; first, you need to look back at your early education and career and trace back the steps to where you are now.
Then consider these questions: Why is it you do what you do? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? What thrills you about your current job role or career? Why don’t you do something else? What does a great day look like? What is it you don’t enjoy about your job and why?
Answer those questions (and few more of your own that you may uncover during the process) and you’ll be well on your way to figuring out what your professional purpose is.
In order to build and sustain an effective personal brand, knowing why you do what you do and being able to succinctly articulate it is as crucial for your internal well-being and growth as it is an external badge.
Start with why and when you figure it out what your professional purpose or mission is, I promise you, the answer will be way more satisfying than any paycheck.
Remember to check back in a fortnight for the next installment in our series: Personal Branding: 10 Steps to Your Perfect Strategy
And don’t forget to:
Check out our book now in paperback: Introduction to Personal Branding: 10 Steps Towards a New Professional You
@MelCarson – Founder of Delightful