Rudder in the storm Part 1

This is a two-part blog about purpose with an exercise to carry out alone or with a partner. It covers:

  1. Connecting to purpose in a big-picture-meaning-of-your-life kind of way.

  2. Focus and action in a day-to-day kind of way. They are inter-related and can provide some comfort in the chaos.

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.’
Friedrich Nietzsche

My good friend and mentor, Brian Chandler, has a more practical expression of this same concept. He says, “You play a much better short game, when you have a long game.”

Part 1: Purpose in a big-picture-meaning-of-your-life kind of way

Knowing who you are and what you stand for at your core provides a rudder in the storm of change – it helps you to move Towards Safer Uncertainty and to remain in the learning and growth zone.

One of of the most powerful models for helping people connect to their purpose was developed by Roberts Dilts’ of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) fame. Dilts’ Logical Levels is a hierarchy of interconnected facets of ourselves.

The model is hierarchical in the sense that rewiring your brain at higher levels causes a cascade of re-wiring at the lower levels. Each level informs the level below.

The reverse does not apply.

It is important for leaders to understand that very little (if anything) will shift at a behavioural level if nothing has shifted at a belief level. In Simon Sinek language, that’s why we must ‘first ask why.’

Let’s do something with it.
TASK: Dilts – Up & Down

Try using Dilts Logical Levels to explore what really matters to you and what commitments you could make. Use the diagram to guide you. Write your thoughts down if it helps. You can do this alone, or with a partner taking turns to ask the questions and offering any appropriate insights.

Pick an area of life or behaviour you would like to explore. E.g.

  • Relationship

  • Work

  • Exercise

  • Eating

  • Coaching

  • Leading

Dilts - Up

Environment – WHERE
The environment is where your behaviours are realised. Its where the tires hit the tarmac.
Ask & Answer:

  • Where does [whatever you chose to explore] take place?

  • Where are you? Describe it

  • What do you see and hear?

  • Who else is there with you?

Behaviours - WHAT

Behaviours are the visible elements of what you do in the stated environment. Behaviours are the expression of your capabilities.
Ask & Answer:

  • What specifically do you do when you are engaged in [whatever you chose to explore]?

  • What activities do you engage in?

  • If somebody was watching what would they see you do?

  •  What would they hear you say?

Capabilities - HOW

Capabilities are the skills, knowledge and abilities that underpin your behaviours. Capabilities are informed by your beliefs.

Ask & Answer:

  •  How do you do [whatever you’re exploring] – what skills, knowledge and abilities are you utilising?

  • What areas of expertise do you call on?

  • What strategies and tactics do you apply?

Beliefs & Values - WHY

Beliefs inform your capabilities. The person who believed they could, and the person who believed they couldn’t, were both correct! Values speak to what matters to you, you are unlikely to commit to something you don’t believe in or value. Beliefs & values express your identity.

Ask & Answer:

  • Why does [whatever you are exploring] matter to you?

  • What’s most important about it?

  • What’s true about it?

Identity - WHO

Identity is expressed in your beliefs & values. You form beliefs & values through relationship with people and things. You reference others in forming your beliefs & values. You give yourself identities based on your relationships to people and things like mother, brother, coach, manager, scientist, cyclist etc. Identity is the medium through which you express your purpose.

Ask & Answer:

  • Who am I when I am engaged in [whatever you are exploring]?

  • Who are you at your best in this area of your life?

  • Who are you at your worst in this area of your life?

Purpose – WHAT ELSE

Purpose is you at your core. At this level you are so fundamentally you that ‘it’ turns up in many areas of your life such as family, community, friendships, what you read and watch. Purpose guides the interactions of your relationships. At a higher-level purpose connects you to something bigger than yourself.

Ask & Answer:

  • Who or what else is involved in [whatever you are exploring]?

  • Where else does [whatever you are exploring] turn up in your life?

  • What do you feel driven by, even if you can’t explain it or know where it comes from?

  • What do you feel fulfilled by?

Dilts - Down

The journey up connects you to what really drives you. For many arriving at purpose can be quite emotional if there is new and meaningful insight and discovery.

But wait there’s more!

The journey down moves you from abstract and conceptual, to practical and transactional. It is about what actions you choose to commit to in the context of what you have just discovered about your purpose.

Remaining connected to your purpose (core), carry the learning with you in the journey back down. Ask & Answer:

Identity - WHO

  • Who are you in this area of your life?

Beliefs & Values – WHY

  • What’s true about this area of your life?

  • What’s important about it?

  • Why does it matter?

Capabilities – HOW

  • What new or additional capabilities and skills could you draw on?

  • What else could you try?

  • Who else could you speak to or engage?

Behaviours – WHAT

  • What will you do now?

  • What has changed?

  • How is that useful?

  • What new things occur to you?

Environment – WHERE

  • Where are you?

  • What do you see?

  • What will you do here?

  • Who else is here with you?

  • Who is no longer here?

What did you learn about your purpose? If you found this useful let me know on LinkedIn using hashtag TowardsSaferUncertainty.
If you’d like to explore this more fully in a guided one to one session then drop me a line.



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Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

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