Crisis of Purpose. I heard this briefly discussed yesterday on a podcast. The discussion was not lengthy or even deep (considering the topic). Neither the guest nor host really delved into the topic much, but it got me thinking. I suspect based upon the last 20 months or so, there are many people experiencing a “Crisis of Purpose”. I would think there are multitudes of people asking themselves “What am I here for?” “What am I supposed to be doing? “ Am I doing what I’m destined to do”? People might be questioning their choices related to work, their friendships, their parenting, etc. Many are certainly questioning their “purpose”.
As leaders we are often faced with challenges, obstacles, and setbacks. Sometimes these things are “operations oriented”, but frequently they are “people oriented”. People do not always work as expected or required. Sometimes they react to situations quite differently than we might. When we are faced with these frustrations (and it seems like they come in buckets), these things can bring any leader to a “Crisis of Purpose”. We wonder what we are doing. Why are we failing? What am I doing here? Should I be doing something different?
When we encounter experiences like these, it’s time to hit the pause button. Take some time and a few deep breaths before you react as a leader. Often, a good night’s sleep changes everything. Putting the problem aside for 24 – 48 hours causes the “crisis” to shrink in size and becomes far less daunting. Something that once felt overwhelming or insurmountable now becomes a challenge. This rest and pause technique serves a purpose. It makes each of us a better leader. No off the cuff reactions or decisions that you can’t pull back. Nothing to wish you hadn’t said or done.
However, when a 24 – 48 hour pause doesn’t do the trick and that sense of questioning your purpose lingers and continues — then it’s time for some self-reflection. Do some serious soul searching. Ask yourself those tough questions. Share your frustrations & questions with those in your “inner circle” of trust. Talk to a coach, counselor, spouse, etc. Get some unfiltered input.
I believe the real end goal of a “Crisis of Purpose” is actually to find the “Purpose of Crisis”. The reason we hit any crisis of purpose is to force us to take a good, hard look at ourselves … time to reevaluate what we are doing and why we are doing it. It can be a signal to take a break, to slowdown and reevaluate priorities. At other times, it’s a way to get us to refocus and make decisions about our future. Change course and go in a new direction. It may be a relatively easy thing; like changing some habits. But at other times the change may be much more significant. Taking a second look may give us the opportunity to change course altogether and pursue a new purpose or opportunity. Oftentimes the purpose of crisis is to do just that!