Early in my career, my purpose was rather shallow and self-centered. It was to become as secure as possible financially, as soon as possible. That’s it. There was nothing embedded in my purpose about making a positive difference in the world.

But that changed in 1998 when I lost a close family member who was in a drunk driving accident. In the blink of an eye, it became crystal clear that life was a fragile gift worthy of savoring. In this devastating moment, the life I thought important disappeared.

Over the coming year I came to see that my view of life was narrow, self centered, and rooted in a poverty mindset. Because of the significant financial hardship my parents experienced, my purpose was to avoid the same financial fate. To do that I had to do everything I could to achieve financial security. There is nothing wrong with having security, but when security became my only priority it distorted my thinking and prevented me from making a difference in my work.

I was fortunate to see that my narrow view of the world was also limiting my quality of life. There was a much more rewarding and enriching life available if I looked through a different prism. The prism I chose was the prism of life as a precious gift and that my talents, if not deployed in ways that improved the quality of others’ lives, was unfulfilling and a waste of God-given talents.

[Read “Modifying Your Behavior Style Is Only the First Step“]

Over the next year, I learned to embrace the purpose of helping others live a more rewarding and enriching life. I’m telling you this because I’ve learned first hand that purpose is a game changer and I want to help you harness the power of purpose.

In my book, 7 Principles of Transformational Leadership (2017), I’ve detailed my process for living what I call a flourishing life. In the first chapter, “The Purpose Principle,” I take the theory of purpose and make it real world and applicable and believe you can use it to live your professional and personal life in ways you never imagined possible.

In summary, our purpose is found at the intersection of three words: love, talent, and value.

  1. Love. Love is all about an idea, hope, dream, or aspiration that we have for our work. We each have an idea for our professional and personal life that, when clarified, accelerates us to higher satisfaction and success. Love has been removed from the lexicon in the world of work though and it’s seen as touchy-feely. When you accept the fact that love is the jumping off point for an inspired and fulfilling life, it’s a game-changing moment.
  2. Talent. Talent is about the skills, abilities, competencies, experiences, and insights you have. Far too often we are told not to stand out, to stay in line and remain humble. In turn, people become disconnected from what they do well and how talented they are. When you combine love and talent, you’re well on your way to not only having a meaningful career path, but on your way to living your professional life on your terms.
  3. Value. Value is about how we make our customers’ or fellow employees’ lives better. We can love an idea, be really good at doing it, but if it is not valuable to someone we can never have a meaningful purpose. When we articulate in clear and compelling terms how a person’s life is improved, we become a magnet for people who want a similar result.

One CEO recounted—after working with me on her purpose—that it was the hardest thing she’d ever done. One year later she told me her purpose was essential to increasing her organization’s financial performance by 250% and that love and joy returned to her work. Let this be a testament that when each area is understood, embraced, and articulated, a personal success and satisfaction emerges that will stun most people (including you).