Purpose combines commitment with flexibility

Cycle paths curve around an unexpected phone box

Another type of mistaken thinking or mis-blink that people often fall into during times of change is called “attachment to outcome.”

When times are stable, having a strong emotional attachment to accomplishing a goal can help us to achieve it.

But when everything is changing, no outcome is ever guaranteed. In this case, being overly-emotionally attached to an outcome that doesn’t happen is likely to lead to feelings of failure, low morale, and difficulty in moving on.

To avoid this we somehow need find a way to let go of our emotional attachment to a goal while retaining our absolute intention to achieve it.

The way we do this is by knowing our purpose.

When we know our purpose then it matters less if circumstances change: we simply look for new ways of achieving the same purpose, then move forward with whichever option works best.

This is what Thomas Edison did as he was inventing the lightbulb. Each time he ‘failed’ he told himself:

“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

Then he moved on to his next attempt.

In a time of churning, seeing each project as just one way to achieve your larger purpose will help you to let go of your emotional attachment if things don’t turn out the way you want them to. And yet you still retain the enthusiasm and emotional engagement that helps you get it done. Knowing your purpose also makes the work more fun and more meaningful.

What is the number one priority you are working on right now? How would you feel if you didn’t achieve it? Would it be useful to know your personal purpose and to see this priority as just one way of achieving that purpose?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By Horia Varlan via StockPholio.net

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