The Importance of Having a Clear and Specific Purpose
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows that it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning, a lion wakes up. It knows that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or the gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” – Author Unknown
So, to be clear, the story is not just about running. It’s about something far more important. The story underscores the importance of having a clear and specific “purpose” that you will focus on at the beginning of every day. Both the lion and gazelle start each day with a clear and specific purpose. Do you? Do you know what you need to do each day that will move you and your organization closer to your goals? Or, do you start each day dealing with whatever comes first whether it’s important or not? Are you prone to activity just to convince yourself that you are busy or is your activity directed towards the achievement of your purpose? Be honest with yourself.
When you lack a clear and specific purpose, you leave yourself open to any one of the following scenarios:
- You start the day slow, stay slow and so does everyone around you. Nothing gets done.
- You start the day with a less than acceptable attitude and no enthusiasm whatsoever. You are unhappy and easily frustrated with the smallest problems. You end the day the same way you started it and bring it all back with you the very next day.
- You waste time and money, accomplish very little and end the day exhausted with little to show for the time you were “working”.
- You position yourself to be a victim of your circumstances and give up being a master of them. You attract others who are also victims. They add to your misery!
There is nothing more powerful to your workday and your business than knowing your purpose and executing it in an efficient and effective manner. Knowing and acting upon your purpose will not only excite you but everyone with whom you have contact. So, like the story, “when the sun comes up, start running,” know and act upon your purpose!
I Have A Brand And It Haunts Me
I was talking to my pal “Jonas” who recently decided to freelance (vs building a multi-consultant business) when he left a bigger firm to do his own thing.
Jonas is a global talent guy who works across the planet for some of the world’s most well known companies. He decided his best play—the one that would allow him to focus on what he loves most and live the life he’s planned—is to freelance for other firms.
His plan got off to a bit of a rocky start because—get this—none of the firms he approached believed he’d actually want to “just” freelance. He’d earned his rep by steadily building deep, brand name client relationships, practices and business, not by going off by himself as a solo.
Or as he put it “I have a brand and it haunts me.”
We both had a good belly laugh because he was already rolling in new projects, thrilled with his choice to freelance.
And yet, isn’t that the truth?
Good, bad, indifferent—our brands DO haunt us.
They whisper messages to those in our circle “trust him, he’s the bomb”, “hire her for anything creative as long as your deadline isn’t critical”, “steer clear—he talks a good game but doesn’t deliver”.
And thanks to social media, those messages—good and bad—can accelerate faster than you can imagine. One client, one reader, one buyer can be the pivot point that takes your consulting business to new territory.
So how do you deal with it?
Yep—you go for more of what comes naturally. In Jonas’ case, he stuck with what he’s known for—his work, his relationships, his track record for integrity—and won over any lingering skepticism about his move.
We weather the bumps in the road by staying true to who we are at our core.
So when a potential client says “Sorry, you’re just too expensive for me”, you don’t run out and change your prices. Instead, you listen carefully and realize they aren’t the right fit for your particular brand of expertise and service.
When a social media troll chooses you to lash out at, you ignore them and stay with your true audience—your sweet-spot clients and buyers.
And when your most challenging client tells you it’s time to change your business model to serve them better, you listen closely (there may be some learning here) and—if it doesn’t suit your strengths—you kiss them good-bye.
If your brand isn’t haunting you, is it really much of a brand?
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