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Purpose: Make it simple

One of the most important jobs a leader has is making it simple…

• Simplify the goal.

• Simplify the mission.

• Simplify the tasks at hand.

Think about it. Let’s say you operate a small chain of restaurants. The simple thing you need to do is to deliver a great meal and a wonderful experience to your next customer. We’ll come back to simple in a minute.

There are a lot of moving parts involved in accomplishing this simple mission…

• You need to hire and manage cooks, wait staff, bartenders and floor managers.

• You need to plan appealing menu options and develop and maintain a reliable supply chain for consistent high-quality.

• You need to purchase or lease buildings and equipment––and you’ve got to maintain them.

• You need to stay on top of ever changing laws and regulations.

• You have to market your business and keep an eye on the competition and other threats.

• You need to account for the almighty dollar to make sure you pay your bills, pay your employees, pay your taxes and still stay in the black.

And on top of all that, you need to Inspire, Empower and Guide your people to perform at their very best.

The higher up you go on the org chart, the more complex it gets. But still, your job is to make it simple. Why?

How much does your front line wait staff need to know about zoning regulations, corporate tax law and the difficulty of importing a rare truffle from France that your head chef insists on to make her signature dish?

I could argue that it's very helpful for them to know something about the various moving parts––especially those that directly affect their specific jobs. And it’s always helpful for people in various departments or roles to understand a little about what goes on in other areas, how they’re connected and how each individual can help the other do a great job. You have to determine, at any given time, how much information is enough and how much is overload.

What binds everyone together is the one clear note that rises above the cacophony. It’s your job to find that note and sing it.


Now we’re getting back to simple. What is it exactly that can reach people with vastly, often isolated responsibilities and roles and bring them together as a group?

My dear friend Dov Baron focuses on this area with a theme he calls the One Red Thread. (Click for free ebook.)

What is that one thread that runs through the organization and unites each individual?

Dov would say “purpose.” And I agree.

The purpose Dov talks about is not some “soft” or esoteric mindset game that sounds great at the weekend retreat but rarely becomes real. This purpose is ultimate reality and it’s your job to make it so.

If you want to lead a truly successful and sustainable organization, you need to Inspire. Purpose is one of your most powerful inspirational tools.

Purpose is that idea that clarifies your vision and mission and brings people together for a common cause. That collective cause or purpose needs to be bigger than any one individual’s, but must also be accessible to even the smallest bit player…

Every single person from the janitor to the CEO must know what the organization purpose is and know that their work contributes to it––in a meaningful way.

Let’s say the purpose identified by our hypothetical restaurant is “to provide a remarkable experience that takes every diner to a new adventure in world cuisine.” That’s not a bad purpose for a top restaurant!

How would everyone in the organization contribute to that mission? What role does each individual have in delivering this adventure?

This example proves the distinction between motivation and inspiration. Motivation is simply compelling someone to a particular expectation. Inspiration is about exceeding expectations.

You can motivate with bribes––we’ll call them incentives. Or you can motivate with threats or consequences––let’s call these quotas just to keep it simple.

Inspiration requires a deep emotional and intellectual connection––to a purpose. The purpose must touch people’s hearts and minds. What you’re inspiring is feeling––and to keep it going those feelings need to make sense.

Start by identifying your individual purpose. Be sure your purpose aligns with the purpose of the organization––want and woe come to those who ignore this advice.

Identify your organization’s purpose. Create and practice ways to express this purpose to every individual in the organization––make this expression clear, sincere and simple…

Emphasis on simple. Every single person in the organization should be able to express the purpose in just a few words––and know exactly how they’re transforming this purpose into a real experience for themselves, the organization and the people you all serve.

By the way…


“To develop, cultivate and support human-centric leaders through education, meaningful dialog and training. To help these leaders Inspire, Empower and Guide people to their very best.”

That’s it––and everything we do must serve that purpose.



Learn more about the power of purpose and how to find yours on this episode of Walking the Walk…

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