What Happens When You Show Up On Purpose?

14th Jun 2018


I’ve just got back from a week on the beach in Fiji. But wait – it’s not what you think! I went to plan and write my next book (ok, with a little surfing thrown in). I had a hugely productive week, and I’ve come away feeling pretty good about where I’ve got to. Right on.

I stayed in a small, low-key resort right on the beach in front of a great surf break. Imagine elegant palm trees strung with hammocks overlooking a turquoise sea swinging gently in the warm breeze. Yep, it was all there. It would have been all too easy to be lured by all of that, and fritter away the days surfing, eating and lazing about.

But that didn’t happen. I went with a clear purpose, and a goal to achieve. It was all about the book. On the plane on the way there, I draw up a rough daily schedule that in fact did include surfing time and siesta time, but the bulk of each day was planned for writing and research.

During my stay, I noticed an interesting dynamic at play, that I suspect, was a result of my being so intentional:

  • It was easier for me to say no to the less important stuff. I have an inbuilt desire to connect with people. I’m someone who’s easily lured into chatting to anyone about anything. But by having a clear purpose for my limited time, the pull of the book was stronger than the need for chatter. As a result, it was easier to cut a conversation short and let people know that I was off to continue writing. This is a case of how strong conviction enables courage, which I’ve written about before.
  • Rather than being ‘just another tourist passing through’, I became known by the staff and guests as ‘the guy who’s writing a book’. I had people whom I’d never met coming up to me asking “how’s the book going?” My take on that is that by being authentic and true to my purpose, I stood out from the crowd without trying to stand out from the crowd.
  • As a result, the conversations I did have were somehow more rich and meaningful than merely idle chatter. After my week, I left feeling that I’d established a handful of wonderful new friendships based on some deep and common interests. And I got some great new ideas for the book too!
  • And overall, my time there felt unhurried, meaningful and hugely fulfilling. That’s gotta be good, right?

I went to Fiji with what leading adult development psychologist Bob Kegan would call a self-authoring mindset. (Pardon the pun). That’s when you’ve decided what you’re about, and you’re deliberately and intentionally living it. From a leadership perspective, that’s important because with a self-authoring mindset, you’re less hidebound by rules and ‘what others think’, and more focused on creating what you want to see in the world.

It all starts with showing up ‘on purpose’.

How often do you deliberately show up ‘on purpose’? How often do you show up with a clear intention for whatever you’re there for?

When you take a moment and ask yourself “what do I most want to have happen here?” you can shift from autopilot, to taking control of your situation and being more purposeful.

You can apply that idea in a few different ways:

  • To your life
  • To your year
  • To your week
  • To your day
  • To your next meeting
  • To every conversation you have today (and tomorrow…)

Your ‘purpose’ doesn’t have to be big, bold and grandiose. It just needs to be clearly aligned to what’s most important to you.

If you want to do good work and make a difference in the world, try showing up more ‘on purpose’.



Like this post? You’re only getting half the story. Sign up to my ‘Fresh Thinking’ newsletter, delivered monthly to your inbox.

Are you a Change Maker? Learn more about my Change Makers programme, including next intake dates.






2 thoughts on “What Happens When You Show Up On Purpose?

Comments are closed.