Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

How do you define your purpose?

3 Comments

Among the most important discoveries you will make in your life is finding your purpose—the reason for your being, the core principles you espouse, the intent for which you get out of bed every day.

Thinking about the life before you is one of the most important things you can do. Defining your purpose and planning for the future is key to your success. You need to articulate the purpose in your life.

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If an individual or an organization has a clearly defined purpose, the impact can be extraordinary. Clear purpose leads to clear value. Purpose guides your life and helps you apply the correct processes and actions to help you reach your goals.

how-measure-lifeThe best process I have encountered for defining your purpose comes from the book HOW WILL YOU MEASURE YOUR LIFE? by Clayton Christensen. In this book, Clayton gets to the heart of the important areas of life and business, steps that lead to success and happiness, and ways you can measure your progress along the way.

In the book, Clayton describes the three parts to purpose—a process that takes you through the steps you need to define your purpose:

  1. Likeness: what you want your life, or your organization, to become when you are at the end of the path. A likeness is what the managers and employees hope they will have built as they reach each critical milestone in the journey.
  2. Commitment: For a purpose to be useful, you need to have a deep commitment, almost a conversion, to the likeness you are trying to create. Without this deep commitment, you will find that the world will compromise the likeness by wave after wave of extenuating circumstances.
  3. Metrics: One or a few ways by which you can measure your progress. These metrics will help you calibrate your work, keeping everything moving together in a coherent way.

The combination of these three parts—likeness, commitment, and metrics—comprise a company’s, or an individual’s, purpose. If you desire to create a positive impact, you must never leave your purpose to chance. You need to pursue your purpose deliberately.

The book examines several other related topics that will help you define your purpose and measure your life, including:

  • Strategy—how to spend your time, money and energy.
  • Relationships—the importance of investing in personal relationships.
  • Capabilities—what resources, processes and priorities will your children need in the future?
  • Experience—the need to plan your classes in the school of experience.
  • Culture—deciding, explicitly, what you want your family’s culture to become.

Clayton’s book is a game-changer. I highly recommend you read it and apply its principles in your life.

Questions: How important is defining your purpose? What steps can you take to define your purpose? You can leave a comment in the space below.


The Product Management Perspective: To Lead On Purpose has been the core of blog since its inception. To lead on purpose, you need to know your purpose. Whether you think you know it or not, I recommend this book to your study.

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3 thoughts on “How do you define your purpose?

  1. By understanding our own self and who we are and our life energies, our purpose unfolds itself. We will find meaning and path becomes clear. Nice pointers from the Claytons book on likeness, commitment and metrics. Thanks for pointing out, I will read that book soon. Nice introductory article. Cheers, Ramkumar

    • Ramkry, you hit on a key aspect, the importance of understanding ourselves and important aspects in our lives. In many ways our purpose does unfold itself. It is important to take deliberate steps along the way to get really clear on your purpose. This is especially important for those who are working to get to a new level.

      Thanks for your comment!
      -Michael

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