“I’m stuck,” Maggie lamented as she sat across the table from me with her well-read copy of The Purpose Project. “I’m about to take on a new role in People and Culture and I want to inject my own sense of purpose into it but have no idea how.”
“Tell me everything that matters to you (and bothers you) about the role and your company,” I responded. After 15 minutes, Maggie finally landed on what really matters. “We don’t have the real conversations,” she sighed. “What do you mean by a real conversation?” I asked. “I believe people feel they can’t bring their whole-self to work and that we need to be professionally upbeat all the time. We put our game-face on and it just doesn’t feel like a very human place to work because we can’t talk about what’s really going on – the real stuff.”
“So, are you having real conversations with others?” I asked. “No, I don’t feel safe in doing that here,” Maggie shared. “I think I’ll take this new role while I look for a job in a more human company.”
After seeking permission to offer Maggie advice, I said “The grass is not likely to be greener in another company. You have a perfect opportunity right here to affect change.” After a number of coaching sessions exploring the potential to bring her own why to work, Maggie came up with her own Purpose statement: “to be the champion of real conversations at work”. Her next step was to create a project that would bring this to life.
Some weeks later I met her. “I’ve created a project for myself and I’ve already started having real conversations with others. I’ve even reflected on my childhood. There was one pivotal and poignant experience as a child where I was silenced and couldn’t tell the truth. I now understand the long-term impact that had on me and how it’s playing out today. I’m making a presentation to our whole team in three weeks entitled “Real Conversations” where I’ll share my story.
Months later, Maggie has now impacted her whole team in the way they connect and communicate with each other. She openly declares her Purpose in meetings and demonstrates what a ‘real conversation’ really is. She’s created a ripple effect by making her Purpose come alive and she’s no longer looking for a job elsewhere.