When purposes clash at the workplace – Purpose of Living – Part 25

collegue purpose conflits
Image credits: http://www.insperity.com

Have you ever faced a situation where you have a purpose that clashes with the purpose of a colleague, such as your boss, peer or a direct report? Has this situation led to misunderstandings, arguments, anger, click formation, politicking and even violence that starts affecting the business of the organisation? How did you handle the situation? Has it made you become disgruntled about the notion of ‘purposeful living’ and even resulted in discouraging team members in living purposefully. I will try to address this issue in this blog post from the experience I have had in dealing with such situations as a team member from within the organisation or as a consultant and coach from outside the organisation.

Recently I had the opportunity of coaching a CEO of an organisation. He started from the front line as a sales representative and come to this position over a 20-year journey. Given his experience, he has mastered the business and he has also qualified in management by obtaining a MBA from the premier business school in the country. His goal is to continue in this role until retirement and become an authority on the subject. On the way to retirement, he plans to write a PhD thesis and books in his area of expertise and later, after retirement, to go into consulting, coaching and teaching. His current CFO is more interested in a different industry, close to his heart and he is developing his networks, finances and own business while being in the job. He does his job well and focuses on his own business during evenings and weekend. While this is technically not breaking the rules of the company, the CEO is concerned about his divided attention and divided energy. The CEO has discussed this issue with the CFO a few times, but the CFO has always tried to make him understand that there is no compromise and has assured that giving time to something concerned with his purpose only energizes him and helps him do better at work.

This became one of the discussions during the executive coaching process the CEO had undertaken with me. One of my questions from the CEO was, why do you do what you do? After a long discussion related to this question, we agreed that it is to inspire young people to believe in their unlimited potential irrespective of the conditions of their life and provide the technical and adaptive skills required for them to be successful in their lives. The discussion contained questions from me related to finding purpose as shared in earlier blog posts and answers from him that led to more questions. We identified that these young people he is committing to develop, as a part of his purpose of life, includes his children, relatives, friends, team members etc. We also agreed that part of his responsible is to help these young people find the beginning of their purpose and help develop them in line with that purpose.

Then my questioning led to the situation concerning his CFO and asked him, would you consider your CFO also someone you would treat like the other young people you are committed to serving? He agreed. Then I asked how would you help him develop to find and live his purpose? This was a lively and deep discussion which explored how he can assist the CFO to live purposefully without compromising the business he is working for. Could they agree on a part-time arrangement to avoid division of focus and energy? Could the business start a division in line with the CFO’s purpose and allow him to run that? Could the CFO move full-time in to his own business and continue to be associated with the company in a consultative role? How could the CEO mentor and coach the CFO to develop the required technical and adaptive skills to be able to play his role in the company while developing his own business in line with his own purpose?

This discussion continued during multiple coaching sessions and it helped the CEO look at the issues in a more holistic, humane and purposeful manner. They decided to stay with the questions and continue the discussions without rushing in to conclusion. This helped them to come up with workable solutions for the business and their individual purposes. This improved the relationship between the two and the performance of the business. While the situation is improving, they are continuing this process until they both agree that this is not an issue any more.

The takeaway from this is that we need to have sight on our purpose and allow that to energize the work we are doing in building ourselves to become more purposeful. Ensure that we stay in the process, taking good care not to be detrimental to our businesses, family, society etc. And the only way to ensure this is to have a noble intention in mind, be willing to reflect on and talk about the struggles and keep experimenting on possible options that helps resolve conflicts in purposes.

This new phase in this series on ‘purposefulness’, which I started three months ago, is dedicated to addressing living issues and struggles related to purposeful living. I hope this short blog post inspires you to find ways of dealing with conflicts that arise when trying to live purposefully.

I wish you purposeful living!

Purpose of Living – Part 20: Learning & Growing as we Struggle to be Purposeful

Image Credits: Grouphigh.com

We explored the notion of purpose from various viewpoints in the first ten blog posts in this series. We then started making sense of our purpose in the next nine blog posts. I invite you to now reflect on the eighth aspect in the model of purposeful living– Learning & Growing; the bronze colour circle in the model. While this is the eighth circle, in real life it can happen anywhere in the nine circle process, it’s not necessarily chronological. Learning and growth that occurs due to an experience could make us feel fully alive and of service to the world and this can make us reflect and find purpose.

This blog post deals with learning and growing with the struggles we face as we attempt to live a purposeful life.  What I mean by attempting to live a purposeful life, it is about living with a set of values that can attract spiritual energy, it’s about looking after our health with good exercising, rest and consumption practices, it’s about building relationships by letting go of selfish motives, listening, understanding, respecting and becoming mutual, it is about building financial stability with healthy earning, saving and spending practices, it is about building intellect by reading and studying purpose related content and willing to let go of the interesting but not purposeful content. These require going in to discomfort as the body and mind is used to a different way of being.

After I had discovered the notion of ‘purpose’ and formulated the first cut of my purpose, I decided to look after my health by going to the gym regularly, eating nourishing food, giving up the consumption of alcohol and attempting to sleep at least for six hours a day. This resulted in struggles in the form of leaving office early and work piling up, attending cocktail parties with a glass of soda in hand, giving up some of the food I enjoyed and struggling to fall asleep. But after some time, I learnt how to delegate and this resulted in being able to leave office early to get to the gym, the body got used to the new way of eating, drinking and sleeping.  I started feeling healthier and more energetic. Therefore, the struggle had helped me to learn how to look after my health and grow in health during the process. I had similar experiences in my spirituality, relationships, finances and intellectual development.

It is also about taking risk such as changing jobs, starting relationships, migrating to a different city or country, starting a business etc., to be in line with our purpose that might be risky, sometimes resulting in struggles. I decided to leave a prestigious and financially secure position of director of a leading company in Sri Lanka and establish a company to represent Sensei International, who was providing organisational and personal transformation services, as it was in line with my ‘purpose’. The initial years resulted in struggles due to the need to continuously find assignments for financial sustenance, personal financial difficulties during dry spells, facing difficult audiences, needing to learn and skill up etc. resulting in very little time for family or self, damage to my ego, and the sacrifice of some comforts I was used to. However, these struggles helped build an organisation with a strong image and create the financial freedom, personal space and self-esteem to be able to give more time to my family and for myself.

A title of a book by Robert Schuller, Tough Times Never Lasts – Tough People Do, has helped me to go through these struggles, knowing that the tough times will pass. Principles that I have learnt, experienced and teach practically such as ‘focus on the process and the outcome will take care of itself’, ‘champions are comfortable when they are uncomfortable’, ‘the harder I work the luckier I become’, and ‘happiness is the willingness to be in the discomfort on behalf of growth’, has helped me to accept the struggles positively until I started experiencing the learning and growth they are designed to achieve.

I recommend you use your ‘purpose’ statement, when faced with struggles while attempting to live purposefully, to reflect on the learnings and growth provided by the experience. A first step would be to go back to some of the struggles you have experienced in the past and reflect on how they helped you learn and grow to be fit for purpose.

In case you have not established your purpose statement, I suggest you visit the 14thblog post in this seriesthat suggests a process to articulate your purpose statement. Keep building yourself and be fit for purpose so that you can say ‘yes’ to opportunities presented to you. What is important is to be in the process, and be relatively unconcerned about the outcome, which is part of a larger plan that we may not be privy to.

In the next blog post, we will explore the dark blue colour circle, ‘inspiring’ that explores aspects related to living in a manner that inspires others to live a purposeful life.

Meanwhile I wish you purposeful living!

Purpose of Living – Part 19: Responding to the Universe

universe responding to purpsoe

We explored the notion of purpose from various viewpoints in the first ten blog posts in this series. We then started making sense of our purpose in the next eight blog posts. I invite you to now reflect on the seventh aspect in the model of purposeful living– Responding (the dark green colour circle in the model). While this is the seventh circle, in real life it can happen anywhere in the nine circles, it’s not necessarily chronological. An opportunity received could make someone feel fully alive and of service to the world and this can make him/her reflect and find purpose.

This blog-post deals with responding to the opportunities provided to us from the universe. I use the word universe to describe the energy system, a higher power that makes this planet tick. Those who are religious would make sense of this higher power as God, Allah or the Almighty. Whatever we call this power, I feel we are not intelligent enough to understand this higher power and it requires faith or a brilliant scientific mind. I believe the opportunities can come our way or we can go looking for the opportunities. Continue reading “Purpose of Living – Part 19: Responding to the Universe”

Purpose of Living – Part 9: The Action Logics (pre-conventional) Viewpoint

action logics -pre con copy
Pre-conventional Action Logics

We explored the notion of purpose from the viewpoints of Abrahamic Religions, Eastern Philosophies, Early Sciences, Modern Sciences, Philosophy, Psychology & Ecology in the last few blog posts in this series. Let’s now have a look at this notion from an ‘Action Logics (pre-conventional)’ viewpoint.

Let’s first try to understand the notion of ‘Action Logics’. It tries to explain the ‘logic’ behind the ‘action’ we take. Most action is based on decisions unless it is spontaneous. If decisions are well thought out and rational, they could be based on an intention, reason or purpose. This shows that actions can be based on a reason or purpose.

Therefore, the logic behind decisions we make that determine actions we take, could have an impact on the quality of the decision and the resultant action. The notion of action logics[1] has some potential in understanding this phenomenon.

The developers of the ‘Action Logics’ model proposes two broad categories of Action Logics: pre-conventional and post conventional. According to a research study in the USA of 4300 plus adults, it was found that 85% belong to the pre-conventional group. While it is difficult to define pre-conventional, to me it seems like those who are more materialistic, achievement oriented, less mature, younger and competitive would fall in to this group. Let me try to make sense of the four pre-conventional ‘Action-Logics’ in relation to purposeful living. Continue reading “Purpose of Living – Part 9: The Action Logics (pre-conventional) Viewpoint”

Preparing for a fruitful 2017

Image Credits: http://www.pinterest.com

2016 is almost over and I hope you made good progress during the year. Some of us would say it was an awesome year, some would say it was an average year and some others would say it was not a good year!  The best we can do is to use the learning from 2016 so that we can make 2017 a better one.

I am pleased to present a simple four-step process to help you prepare for a fruitful 2017.

Step 1: Let’s start by doing this simple reflective exercise to take the resources from 2016 for a better 2017. Answer the following question in writing or in an artful form such as a picture, poem, collage, structure etc.

  1. What were my biggest successes in 2016? What did I learn from it?
  2. What were my biggest failures in 2016? What did I learn from it?
  3. Who am I grateful for 2016?  (Those who helped me and was tough on me)

Once the above is done, allow some time for the energy and learnings to settle in before starting the preparation for 2017.
Continue reading “Preparing for a fruitful 2017”

Is Unique-Ability the new Success Mantra?

Unique ability
Image Credits: http://www.buzzel.com

Let’s first try to understand what is ‘Unique-ability’ before trying to understand what your Unique-ability is and how to use this potent idea in improving your effectiveness individually and as a team.

Unique-Ability is a description for a level of ability. To simplify it let me offer four broad levels of ability. At the bottom is ‘Incompetent’, where we just can’t do a particular task. The next level is ‘Competent’, where we can do a particular task. The third level is, ‘Excellent’ where we not only can do a particular task, but we can do it well. We can get up to ‘Excellent’ level through training and developing our skills. But to get to the fourth level, ‘Unique-ability’ we would not only be really good at doing a particular task, but we are passionate about, it energizes us and it inspires others. It is simply something natural in us. Therefore I believe we cannot get to the level of Unique-ability by training ourselves, it should be within us. It is a word used to describe your natural strengths. It also highlights your responsibility to put your talents to work for the shared purposes of those with whom you make a commitment of this tremendous energy.

Continue reading “Is Unique-Ability the new Success Mantra?”


Have you ever wondered about the purpose of your life? Why on earth are you here? Those of you who may have been to one of our workshops or any other relevant learning experience, may have an idea about the concept of purpose and know at least the beginnings of your purpose. Given below is a poem I wrote as I reflected on where I am with regard to my purpose, together with a group of us who are co-inquiring about our purposefulness.

Purposefulness the poem June 16

I recommend you do some creative journaling about where you are with regard to your purpose using a poem, song, photo, drawing, pottery, mask, handicraft, dance, writing, mind map, formula, graph or any other form you are most passionate about to understand about your current purposefulness. Please share them with us if you wish, we would love to see them and help you make sense of it.

The photo of the tree in the picture that includes the poem above inspired me to write this poem.