Why Purpose Isn’t Hocus Pocus

Here’s a Harvard Business Professor telling you why purpose is important.

I work with guys to establish their purpose… it’s a great job. I get to see people go from trudging along in stagnancy to totally on fire with direction and motivation.

Without fail, every single guy knows the feeling of living off purpose. We all know it even if we can’t name it. Some guys don’t believe in the concept intellectually, but still know the feeling of it.

And yet the concept has become a buzzword that sounds like Hocus Pocus, placebo nonsense for people who believe in Santa Claus.

Well, here’s an excerpt from an econometrics expert in the Harvard Business Review called How Will You Measure Your Life?

In it, Harvard Business Professor Clayton M. Christensen delivers advice to graduating students about Purpose using his own brand of Socratic coaxing, mainly focusing on three questions for his HBS students.

“…First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness? Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail? Though the last question sounds lighthearted, it’s not. Two of the 32 people in my Rhodes scholar class spent time in jail. Jeff Skilling of Enron fame was a classmate of mine at HBS.
…For me, having a clear purpose in my life has been essential. But it was something I had to think long and hard about before I understood it. When I was a Rhodes scholar, I was in a very demanding academic program, trying to cram an extra year’s worth of work into my time at Oxford. I decided to spend an hour every night reading, thinking, and praying about why God put me on this earth. That was a very challenging commitment to keep, because every hour I spent doing that, I wasn’t studying applied econometrics. I was conflicted about whether I could really afford to take that time away from my studies, but I stuck with it — and ultimately figured out the purpose of my life.
Had I instead spent that hour each day learning the latest techniques for mastering the problems of autocorrelation in regression analysis, I would have badly misspent my life.
…I apply the tools of econometrics a few times a year, but I apply my knowledge of the purpose of my life every day.
It’s the single most useful thing I’ve ever learned.
I promise my students that if they take the time to figure out their life purpose, they’ll look back on it as the most important thing they discovered at HBS. If they don’t figure it out, they will just sail off without a rudder and get buffeted in the very rough seas of life. Clarity about their purpose will trump knowledge of activity- based costing, balanced scorecards, core competence, disruptive innovation, the four Ps, and the five forces.”
So, I’ll ask you the same question… “How Will You Measure Your Life?
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