Deliberately Purposeful?

30th November, 2015

What does it mean to be “on purpose” or to take an action “on purpose”?  I was considering this question (and playing devil’s advocate) with a coaching client very recently… You see I am under the impression that both the meaning and orientation of the term “on purpose” can be regularly skewed.

My client was sharing how their business development plans were progressing and reflecting (to inform wiser future choices) upon a turbulent previous fortnight involving some significant team conflict.

I asked on several occasions… Was that something you did / said on purpose?

The descriptions given within the answers were fascinating… Ranging from examples of how the actions they took were reactive and automatic compared to those times when actions (whether productive and resourceful or not) had appeared to be taken with conscious awareness at the time.

Since the question I had asked had not related to whether their actions had been “with awareness”, I shifted my questioning slightly, to exploring whether they had taken action “deliberately”.

“I told you,”… they said… “Yes I meant to do it / I did it on purpose”…

…so they were purposeful choices you made? 

… and when you say you “meant” to do this – your actions were “meaningful” or were they simply “mean”?

“Well I know it was counter-productive, I knew it wouldn’t go down well, but in the heat of the moment that is what I said / did”…

Ah I see… So you did or didn’t do it “deliberately” then?

Confusion, a furrowed brow and frustration all followed and the discussion resumed…

We agreed that wise leadership requires a blend of creativity, compassion and courage. It was clear that they had used some creativity in their approach, but without balance the results were both counterproductive and lacking in true purpose.

We then explored…

  • Was the action taken aligned to a moral imperative? I.e. was it “on purpose” or not quite aligned to a purpose, vision, mission or calling?
  • How did the approach taken in that moment align to and move towards (or not) the vision that has been set for the business?
  • How did the behavior exhibited authentically convey (or not) a sense of living and breathing the cultural ethos that has been committed to as a way of doing business?
  • If these actions are described as having been taken deliberately… How much deliberation took place and what was (or could have been) deliberated upon?

And finally…

  • Was the most creative, compassionate and courageous version of leadership displayed? Were you proud?
  • What would you need to do on purpose and deliberately to create a better week, month, and year and how can you ensure you remain deliberately purposeful?

When we take actions “on purpose” we feel aligned, we sense that our behaviour is contributing to a better world or leading us towards our individual and collective goals, maybe being in service in some way – and we therefore challenge thought-less actions.

We can only be purposeful if we truly begin to recognise our reason for being and that means consulting our heart, head and gut. To do something on purpose is so much more than acting with cogniscance. It is an acknowledgement and expression of our highest intent. This requires acting with consciousness, consideration, conscience and a sense of connection.

“On purpose” is something that has a systemic impact… It is not something that comes solely from our internal agenda and since the manifestation of our purpose will likely involve and impact upon others, to be purposeful takes compassion and courage.

So I hope the questions above might be useful for reflection and planning, minimising counterproductive actions and directing our innate creativity towards meaningful work to ensure that we live purposefully.

About Lizzi Larbalestier

Professional Blue Health Coach, mBIT and NLP trainer specialising in coastal coaching. Creating meaningful conversations, facilitating action and change for the results that you deserve. #bluehealthcoach #oceanempathy #bluemind