A Reflection on Purpose & Meaning
This week I’m honored to bring you a guest blog on purpose and meaning by Andrés Valencia, a certified professional coach. I met Andrés when I attended the World Happiness Summit in Miami earlier this spring. It’s always so much fun to meet other people who love Positive Psychology.
Three years ago, as part of my job at a large academic medical center, I had the opportunity to shadow a nurse in the emergency department while she was taking care of her patients. The objective of these observations was to bring awareness to how she created a unique connection with her patients and the positive impact she had on others when she created that connection. After my observations, I wrote and shared a strength-based report highlighting what she did and how she showed up as she cared for her patients.
Last week I received the gift of awareness when the nurse shared the impact that my words had had on her to a room of 150 leaders of the center. She shared how that experience and report inspired her to change the way she viewed her job. Hearing her comment made me feel humbled and again in awe of the same person I had shadowed three years ago.
How does all this relate to Purpose and Meaning? Here’s my interpretation of these words based on talking with hundreds of nurses, techs, and doctors:
Purpose is your reason for being here. Per Simon Sinek: this is your WHY. Understanding your purpose, your WHY is often the beginning of a transformative journey that intentionally aligns WHAT you do and HOW you do it.
Meaning is perhaps easier to identify, and it refers to doing those things that matter to YOU. Doing these things either brings you joy or personal fulfillment; not because you are seeking approval from others or for some tangible result, but because it makes you feel that you matter.
So, allow me to connect the dots: spending time with the nurse, helping her see her magnificence, made me feel that I mattered because I felt that I (indirectly) impacted the patient and employee experience. I did this by making one person even more aware of the impact she had as she genuinely and authentically cared for her patients. Hearing her story last week further reinforced what I believe is my purpose: to bring awareness to individuals of the impact they have, so that they can consciously choose to do more of what is meaningful to them.
What about you? What in your personal or professional life gives you meaning and makes you feel that you matter? And how does that relate to your purpose?
You can connect with Andrés via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.