Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

3 Key Steps To Finding Purpose In What You Do

3 key steps shared in a TEDx talk that can help us find purpose in what we do, as well as living the lives we were meant to live.

A few days ago, I got to live one of my dreams.

That’s something that not all of us get to say, which is why I realized that it’s worth taking the time to share this important milestone here on my leadership blog.

So what was this dream that came true for me? Well, this past Sunday, I had the privilege of giving a TEDx talk as one of the speakers at the TEDxConcordia event, something I’m sure you’ve probably figured out from seeing the picture above of me standing on the TEDxConcordia stage.

And if it wasn’t exciting enough to fulfill this dream of becoming a TEDx speaker right here in my hometown of Montreal, what made this all the more special was I gave this talk at the renowned Place des Arts – a performing arts venue has hosted performances by Jerry Seinfeld, Leonard Cohen, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, and many more, not to mention the Montreal International Jazz Festival. So I’m sure you can appreciate why this is definitely a memory-of-a-lifetime for me.

Now understandably, it’s going to take some time before my talk appears on the TEDx YouTube channel. But I didn’t want to wait until then to share some of the ideas that I presented in my TEDx talk, especially in light of the overwhelming response and heartwarming comments I received from attendees during the intermission and at the after-show cocktail party.

And so, I’d like to share with you the three key steps I shared in my TEDx talk “Forget Passion – Purpose is the Real Spice of Life” in the hopes that they will inspire you to not only be the kind of leader your employees need you to be, but also what we all need to live the lives we were meant to live:

1. Create a vision that’s bigger than yourself
For my TEDx talk, I decided to share two personal stories that reflected one of my best and worst work experiences to help illustrate how critical purpose is to our ability to truly succeed and thrive.

In sharing the story of one of my favourite work experiences, which I’ve written about in a previous piece on my leadership blog, I pointed out that while it’s important for us to have a clear vision of what we want to achieve, it’s also important that everyone involved feel a sense of personal ownership in that vision.

A great way to think about this is to consider how a sports team works together to achieve a common goal. A player’s investment in the outcome of the game is not limited to when they’re actually playing. Rather, they care about the end result because they feel a sense of shared ownership in what the team achieves, regardless of who might score the winning goal.

The truth is we all want to feel like we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed [Twitter logoShare on Twitter]. That’s the sentiment our vision should create by building bridges where employees feel they’re in this together and driven by a common purpose.

2. When defining goals, we need to answer the question – why does this matter?
One of the interesting conversations I had about my TEDx talk came from someone who works at a tech company here in Montreal that’s experiencing exponential growth. The challenge they face, though, is not simply finding new talent to help them expand, but how to lower a high turnover rate.

As the majority of their employees belong to the Millennial generation, this attendee told me there were some in his organization’s leadership who blamed the high turnover rate on the Millennial generation’s ‘sense of entitlement’.

While it’s easy to fall back on stereotypes and biases, I pointed out that we do have to recognize that the employee contract has fundamentally changed. That unlike our parents’ generation, we won’t be working for the same organization for 20-30 years after which we get a gold watch to thank us for our many years of service.

Instead, employees from every generation are now expected to shoulder full responsibility for their professional development. And this means that leaders can no longer afford to create goals that matter only in terms of the organization; they also have to engender a sense of purpose for employees in terms of their career goals if we want to avoid issues like high-turnover rates.

In other words, people will care about your organization’s goals if they know you care about their goals as well [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

3. Focus on not just building strengths, but on building your real strengths
When it comes to achieving success, I think one thing we can all agree on as being critical to that process is focusing on building on our strengths. Unfortunately, many of us mistakenly assume that our strengths are reflected in what we’re good at.

As I pointed out in my TEDx talk, what we need to understand is that our real strengths are the things that strengthen us. It’s that internal drive found within each of us that compels us to push ourselves to be better; to fulfill our potential of what we can achieve and who we can be.

One of the TEDx attendees I spoke with after my talk admitted to me that she didn’t know what her real strengths were. And so I did a quick exercise with her where she described various tasks, projects, and volunteer efforts she had done where the work was exhilarating because it was both challenging and personally rewarding.

After listing the various activities, I asked her to find the common thread linking these experiences – of what made them so memorable and enjoyable. As she started to make those connections, I could see on her face the dawning realization of what her real strengths were and better still, what she needs to look out for in future projects to find that sense of purpose and meaning.

And this is what all of us need to understand – our real strengths not only help us to succeed, they help guide us to find purpose in what we do [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

Again, it’s truly an exceptional moment to be able to live one of your dreams and in this case, something I’d even say was on my bucket list. And the fact that I had so many attendees tell me how much they were inspired by my story is more than the icing on the cake, it’s the very purpose that has driven me for almost a decade now in sharing my insights here on my leadership blog.

And so, just as with my TEDx talk, it’s my sincere hope that in sharing these 3 key steps for finding purpose in what you do will inspire you to not simply dream big, but be empowered to make those dreams come true by connecting what you do with the life you were meant to live.

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  1. On September 27th, 2017 at 3:53 PM Chery Gegelman said:

    Congratulations Tanveer! What an awesome experience! Can’t wait to see your talk!

    Love the stories you shared as you visited with people afterwards. It is so rewarding to help others begin to understand themselves and their organizations at a higher level.

  2. On September 28th, 2017 at 3:10 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Chery! It was such an extraordinary experience/moment that I had to share it here on my blog. Glad you loved the stories of my interactions with the attendees after my talk. That’s definitely one of my favourite parts after speaking – having the opportunity to hear what others have learned and what inspiration they now have to make changes for the better.

    Thanks again Chery for the kind words; appreciate it!

  3. On October 1st, 2017 at 12:29 PM DougSundheim said:

    Kudos, Tanveer! You’ve got great leadership ideas. So glad you’ll now be able to share them more widely via TEDx.

  4. On October 4th, 2017 at 4:24 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thank you so much, Doug! Appreciate the congratulatory wishes and kind words. Appreciate it, my friend. Thanks again, Doug.

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