Fill the “Purpose Gap”​ by Delighting

Avi Z Liran

Every new year, it is natural to reflect upon your purpose in life. Do you have one? Where are you on the journey to fulfill your dreams and aspirations?

Studies have shown that people who are working with sense of purpose are happier, more productive and loyal to their organizations than those who don’t. Almost two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, employees have higher expectations that their jobs will bring a significant sense of purpose to their lives. With the great resignation, employers have to make efforts to create alignment with their purpose to their employees’ purpose or to risk losing talent to companies that do it better.
‘Organizational purpose gap’ is the gap between an organization’s ability to have a compelling purpose and its ability to communicate it clearly and embed it in the organization’s everyday activity. I define the ‘Personal Purpose Gap’ as the time and effort between dreaming about your aspirations and fulfilling them.

So, what if you experience a significant organizational and/or personal purpose gap? What if you did not find your purpose yet? How can you add rewarding purpose into your daily life anyway?

Let me take you with me to the Negev desert in Israel in February 1983. The temperature was -4°C. With the freezing desert wind, it was probably -10°C. The officers in warm skiwear were laughing at us shivering and making involuntary music like castanets with our teeth. Our first task was to build tents fast. The rational thing was to escape into the tent as soon as you built it and so did most but two. They were helping others to build their tents. They met at the end of the two rows of tents after they helped almost everyone build their tents. They shook hands and became great friends thereafter until this very day. During the months of the course, all the cadets experienced the same hardship, sleep deprivation, limited food supply, physical exhaustion, and mental stress. While most of the cadets felt unhappy, counting the days to the end, Rinon and I were having fun every day. We even sacrificed one hour of sleep each to guard when the other did, so we can entertain ourselves. The same time passed, and it was the same conditions for all of us. Rinon and I made a choice to enjoy the journey no matter how hard it got. We helped, we laughed, we bonded. As cadets and later on, as officers, we were trusted, respected, and made long-term friendships without compromising on safety and delivering results. Like flowers grow towards the sun, people want to be around people who make them feel great and help them be the greatest that they can be. Guess who had the most motivated and supportive teams?

Here is a suggestion that worked for us:
Accept: You might choose to leave your job tomorrow. But today, whether you chose to stay, or you can’t afford to leave, the fact is that you are here. Rinon and I accepted that we were here to stay for a few months and we have to endure the hardship to become officers.

Choose Your Attitude: You can either torment yourself (and others) by complaining about your situation or make a conscious strategic choice to make the best out of today. We chose to enjoy what we can and stay positive. Our spirit made us stronger and happier.

Delight: Identify opportunities to add value that other people need and deliver them. Often delighting others is inexpensive and does not take much time. There is significant research about how people who contribute to others become happier. By contributing to others, you will build sound relationships. Until today Rinon and I love and cherish our friendship. We trust each other. We have fantastic memories from a time when most rather forget.

I believe that life is like waves. One time you are up, one time you are down. When we are up, we have the responsibility to take care of others because we can.

When we are down, we need to overcome our pride and ask for help.

So, for the new year, I bless you that “You will always find purpose in delighting others”.

Avi Z Liran is an organizational culture consultant, coach, author, humorist and TEDx/IDEASx speaker. 

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