How To Find Your Purpose

It’s been a week of milestones. None more important than the one we celebrate today. Chris’s birthday.

It’s rude to discuss a woman’s age. And potentially dangerous if it’s your wife’s. Suffice to say, mine has the energy of a thirty-year old, looks like she’s forty and has reached this milestone with no regrets and an open heart.

There are many, many things she does better than anyone I know. She is also, it is fair to say, still discovering what she wants her legacy to be.

There are many, many people who would say she has already done so. That their lives have been made better for knowing her. That her support, her inisght, her kindness and her honesty have enriched their lives and helped them unlock their potential. That she has made a difference.

That she loves to help people is a fact. That our business increasingly lets her do so on a wider basis than ever before is true. That doing so makes her happy is obvious. But she would say there is more to be done. New challenges to meet. New opportunities to explore.

And through that journey she is unwrapping her Purpose.

Purpose, as anyone that comes here regularly knows, is a passion of mine. I believe it creates focus and reward far beyond financial returns - though it impacts those enormously too - and allows us to make decisions in the moment that are more reliably positive.

For a business or a person, Purpose is hard to define. An under-statement of some significance in many cases.

Over the last couple of years I have come to learn there are two ways to do so.

Through disciplined analysis supported by insight, experience and sensitivity. A process we use with our clients with great success.

And through exploration. Of trying and failing. And trying again. And discovering patterns that lead you to a simple truth.

I wrote in Boards magazine this week that Steve Jobs has created a culture at Apple that is prepared to fail in order to succeed. Which has allowed both the company and the man the opportunity to explore. What they are. And what else they can be.

I don’t presume to know whether Steve Jobs has discovered his Purpose. Though faced with his own mortality last year, I suspect it has been on his mind.

Before he introduced the iPad - an invention that I personally believe changes everything - he discussed Apple’s recent performance.

The numbers are astounding. In 34 years they have become a $50 billion company that has already changed the world three times.

A success story capable of distracting anyone from understanding their Purpose.

Instead, I believe it has allowed Apple to define theirs.

Today Apple sells three product lines. Macs. iPods. And IPhones. With the exception of a few desktop computers, the overwhelming majority of the products they sell are mobile.

Today, they are the largest seller of mobile devices in the world. Bigger than Sony. Bigger than Samsung. Bigger than Nokia.

Apple was a computer company. It is definitively not any more.

Instead, its Purpose now is to allow us to enrich our lives wherever we are.

A discovery made not through analysis but through exploration.

It is a Purpose that I believe they share.

With my wife.

Happy Birthday Chris. Thank you for sharing your journey. Can’t wait to see what happens next.