The Invisible Power of Purpose

By Valerie Rivera

There’s a powerful force that’s all around us at work. Sometimes it acts like a tailwind and helps us accomplish our mission. Other times, it’s like a headwind, preventing us from doing our best. What is it?

It’s workplace culture – and honestly, it’s complicated. But you don’t need a PhD in organizational behavior (or a lot of rank) to be a catalyst for positive culture change. You just need a few good tools in your toolbox to get started, and the most important one is this: 

Help each and every person on your team understand WHY they do what they do

Everyone should know exactly how their work contributes to the big picture. Yes, that’s right. Get beyond the how and the what – pull a Simon Sinek and Start With Why. (Feeling stuck? Try this exercise). You might be skeptical that this is an issue until you spend a little time asking around. It won’t be long before you get that deer-in-the-headlights look from someone. Or frankly, you might not know the answer yourself! And that’s okay – because you didn’t always want to shut up and color, right? 

Once we understand the purpose of what we do each day, a few interesting things happen:

  • Boring tasks take on more meaning.
  • Identifying pointless tasks that don’t contribute to the mission becomes easier.
  • We think of better ways to get the job done. 

Connecting those dots completes a circuit that kicks off a virtuous cycle. Fueled by a sense of purpose and a desire to learn and do more, your team will produce even better results and the positive feedback will start the loop all over again. Your passion for what you do might even spread to others – and that’s when you know you’re a culture catalyst! 

Valerie Rivera is on a mission to create workplace cultures where people thrive. She’s a culture catalyst, design thinker, Stanford MBA, and mother of twins.