Know your purpose and you’ll know your direction. As a young leader, these words were the source of more frustration than direction in my life.

“Really? Easier said than done,” I thought to myself. “Am I just supposed to have one? Should I know it by now? How do I figure it out?” All questions that ran through my head as I thought about my purpose with very few satisfying answers.

I was motivated, focused and clear about the benefits and rewards of hard work, motivation and determination. I was being promoted and advancing in my career and I still felt as though something was missing. How the heck could I be fulfilled and unfulfilled at the same time? Why couldn’t I just be content? What was I supposed to be doing to maximize my skills, talents and abilities?  These were the thoughts that swirled around in my head and made me question whether I would ever be able to define that illustrious, yet elusive, relationship between my purpose and my direction.

How I ended-up at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) was as a result of leaders who knew that if they invested in and challenged me, I would invest in and challenge myself. It was at CCL that I first became aware of the impact of assessments on my self-awareness and ultimately on my purpose and direction.

The assessments that CCL required me to complete provided me with an important opportunity; the ability to look at myself objectively. This is where I discovered the power of assessments in giving me perspective beyond my opinion. Bias is powerful and there is no bias more powerful than the view we have of ourselves. We can be individually delusional apart from objective input that allows us to look at ourselves differently and with greater clarity.

My belief in assessments became solidified when I recognized that they gave me the capacity to confront myself. They gave me the insight needed to look at my strengths and limitations. To consider the positive and negative impacts of my style and approach. The understanding of the double edge sword; my greatest attribute was also my greatest drawback. What I read in those assessments taught me how to move from being defensive to being completely coachable. What I read in those assessments helped me define my purpose and eliminate my confusion over my direction.

Looking back, what I have come to recognize and value is that assessments, those that are behaviorally validated and scientifically sound, matter because they have the potential to dramatically impact your direction. Here’s the thing… the assessment outputs are a reflection of your inputs rather than someone’s opinion. The questions asked required me to be honest with myself. They implore you to be honest with you. They have the ability to provide clarity apart from delusion. They provide the ability to suck our bias out of decisions where we are more comfortable letting our bias exist and guide our decisions.

Think about it… How many times have you asked yourself one of the following questions:

  • “What is the best kind of role for me?”
  • “How can I get clarity about where I want to go and what I want to do in life?”
  • “What would I have valued knowing about that person before we hired him/her?”
  • “How can I best develop Sarah and maximize her potential in the company?”
  • “What’s the best way to communicate with and approach Steven?”
  • “Why does it seem that Jen is never motivated?”
  • “Why is Braden outperforming every other sales professional on our team?”

Today, I am a proud partner of TTISI, the global assessment company that believes all people have a unique set of talents and skills. Their stated purpose is to “reveal and harness the talent of people through the science of self.”

Yes, there’s a difference between a validated behavioral assessment and a personality test or survey. That will be for another blog. Here’s what I can tell you. All assessments aren’t created equally. The science behind the assessment defines the credibility of the instrument and also determines whether it can be used consistently without question in business environments. A validated assessment doesn’t create an adverse impact for people and very few assessments and other generally labeled instruments are validated. All of that to say the assessment you choose matters.

I said earlier that assessments matter to the business of family business because they have the ability to impact your awareness, understanding and direction. Assessments have the potential to matter to all businesses. Privately-held and family-owned businesses are my chosen emphasis.

In combination with a lot of thought and what I learned from assessments, I was able to define and refine my purpose, direction and clarity. Today, that purpose is what guides the decisions, choices and recommendations that guide our relationships and interactions with the leaders that catalyst the business of family business.

Purpose Statement: We exist to expand the awareness of people and help them maximize their potential and capacity: To help them gain/expand the insights needed to make better decisions that lead to better choices, outcomes and results.

In the week ahead, I want to challenge you, #Thoughtstarter, to think about your purpose and how you maximize your potential and capacity.

With Purpose,

PS – What would you define as your purpose? Let me know in the comments!

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