How To Properly Define Your Passions & Purpose
Over the years, I’ve worked with many companies and found the ones with lucid and succinctly described visions are more likely to succeed than those with unclear or highly complex visions. Yet as individuals, we often don’t take the time to clearly articulate our own passions or purpose. To help you define yours, I’ve created a simple test that I call The Funnel Test.
The following is an excerpt from Your Network Is Your Net Worth: Unlock the Hidden Power of Connections for Wealth, Success, and Happiness in the Digital Age by Porter Gale, former VP of Marketing for Virgin America.
Define Your Passions & Purpose With The Funnel Test
Step 1: Define your three greatest passions or a succinct set of words that clearly define your core interests
You can put a high priority on any type of passion, from family to fitness or education to the environment. For example, I watched my mother build a network based on her passions of volunteering, family, and fitness when, after having lived her entire life in Minnesota, she moved to California to be closer to her family. Within sixty days of arriving, my mother joined a master’s swim team, found a group of women who played tennis at the park, and became an alternate in a golf foursome. If you can find activities, work, or relationships that combine two or more of your core passions, you are likely to hit the jackpot and be more effective in and excited about your actions and activities.
Next, grab a pen and make three columns, one for each passion. Make a commitment to improve, particularly where your involvement is limited. Let’s say that if you’re passionate about photography, make a commitment to go to photography exhibits several times a year and find online communities about the topic. For example, two of my goals are to take an improvisation class as a way to nurture my interest in storytelling and to go on weekly hikes with friends to support my passion for health.
Step 2: Define your desired tone
How you want to present yourself to the world? What is your authentic voice? Are you quiet and reserved? Witty? Bold? Irreverent? To use the example of my mom again, I’d define her tone as reserved. She’s understated and is more likely to listen first and talk second.
Now fill the space below your passion circles with a selected word for your tone. Like a funnel, where the contents flows from top to bottom, envision all of your actions being influenced by your tone. Remember, simple is good.
Step 3: Define your core purpose in twenty words or less
What do you want to accomplish in life? And work? Write what is in your gut, and look at the passion words in your Funnel Test. Your goal is to write a phrase of fewer than twenty words that describes your purpose. My recommendation is to keep this as simple as possible. Some brands and companies do this, and it also happens to be a valuable exercise for self-reflection for any individual.
Fred Reid, the founding chief executive officer of Virgin America, shared with me how the airline’s purpose, “To create an airline people love”, was born: “I had written it on a paper and had thrown it into the trash. I initially thought it was too simplistic, but that is what we wanted to do. Can you imagine? Have an airline people loved?” After some deliberation, Reid and the founding team kept coming back to the simple phrase and decided it was the perfect mantra for the start-up that faced a complicated uphill battle prior to liftoff in 2007.
Sometimes we have to make sacrifices or take baby steps in the short-term to help us get to where we want to be. However, if you don’t even know where you want to go, it will be even harder to get there. Once you’ve defined your passions and developed a focused purpose, your networking efforts will be more effective and authentic. Use this test as a filter to help you guide your activities and meetings.
Stay optimistic, stay productive, and be the best you can be. Stay focused on your purpose, but know there is potential learning in every action.