Don’t Drift

Not long ago a couple were in Hawaii on vacation and decided to try snorkeling. Snorkeling is not exactly a dangerous sport, but they were responsible and took snorkeling lessons. Soon they were prepared to go out on their own and ventured into the Pacific ready to discover the beauty of the ocean.

They were having a great time. No one else was snorkeling in the area … in fact, there was no one within sight. The water was perfect – calm, gentle, and relaxing. As they snorkeled face down in the water, they were fascinated by the radiantly colored fish, spectacular plant life, and the coral reef. It was a remarkable experience, but it was about to become unforgettable.

The woman lifted her head from the water and looked around. She quickly realized that they had drifted. She could barely see their hotel off in the distance. Her husband was only a couple of yards from her. When she got his attention, without saying a word, they could read each other’s thoughts: ‘Yikes! What are we going to do?’

There was only one option. They began swimming for their lives. They swam for quite a while before getting to where they could stand up in the water and return to the beach. Once they reached the beach, they collapsed in the sand, exhausted.

When they woke up that morning, they had no idea what was in store for them. They had come close to disaster while enjoying what they thought was a peaceful and relaxing time. They had drifted. They did not realize what was happening to them until they looked up. Then they were shocked to find they were not where they began and certainly not where they intended to go.

Many people drift. In fact, I think the majority of people drift at least occasionally. They drift in their professional careers and they drift in their personal lives. Then, one day they look up and discover that they are far away from where they thought they would be.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can choose to be a drifter and or choose to live and work with meaning and purpose.

Purpose is not just a goal; it is purposefulness, a higher purpose that only you can define. Purpose powers everything. Your purpose does not change based on temporary events that come and go. Purpose has permanence. It defines how you approach your job, handle an issue, react to surprises, and deal with things that may seem unfair. People who understand how their job fits into a broader purpose are engaged and creative. And, they make better decisions.

Do you come to work with your purpose of doing a task … or are you coming to work because your task will help you achieve your purpose? Think about it. If you come to work because your work ultimately helps you accomplish your purpose, you will enjoy your work more and be more productive as well.

Here are a few points to ponder as you coach your team from drifting to purpose:

  1. Without purpose, you drift.  There is no reason to work just to get tired.
  2. Write your purpose down on paper.  You will clarify where you want to go and then you can ask others to come with you.
  3. Identifying your purpose is not just a nice to do.  It is essential to your success.

Based on the book LeaderShift … Making leadership everyone’s business.

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