Steve, one of the things you talk about in your book is the importance of defining and understanding your purpose and direction that you are going in. How does someone start that journey?
Steve Head: It’s not easy. Running my training programs, you ask an audience, maybe a small group or large group, answer the question what is my purpose. Most would sit there with a blank sheet of paper and go, “I don’t really know.” It’s a big question. If I said, “What is your goals and objectives for the next week and a half? Pay the bills, do this, do that, but what’s the reason you are here?” That’s a big question. The start point for it though, is to get people to think about what’s important to them.
There is a whole chuck around values and that. It’s actually no different than working with a corporate, if you think about it. Simon Sinek, you have come across his work, he wrote a book called ‘Start With Why’. He put a video out on TED and it got 30 million hits. He drew three circles. He said, “All businesses know what they do. All businesses / people pretty much know how they do what they do, but do you really know why you do what you do?” The ones that have that why, that’s where the passion comes from.
It’s the same thing for an individual I think. What’s your purpose sounds like a very big question, but actually it’s just what’s important to you. What floats your boat? What makes you feel good? There is a lot of questions you can ask around that that don’t give you the answer, but there is eventually a sort of cross section of thought to think, “You know what, that’s what I’m really about. I’m really about people. I’m really about activity. I’m really about sport.” I’m really about whatever the thing is. We’ve all got our own things. I know mine is not technology. You know what your things are. It’s not to say you can’t be good at other things, it’s just what is going to be your passion.
I think more businesses are starting to realize when employing somebody, that questions that uncover some of that are really helpful. What’s your passion, I guess, is another way of putting it. What drives you every day? What gets you out of bed in the morning that makes you think, “I want to go and do this.” Rather than, “I’ve got to go and do this.” I think when you get people in a job that just the thing that they do because they’ve got the skill or they have spent time on it, is not necessarily going to get an engaged workforce. If you get people who do things because they connect to the bigger purpose … The big example would be healthcare. Most of life, half my life, has been in healthcare working with the National Health Service.
When people are in health and they are passionate about healthcare, passionate about patients, it doesn’t matter whether they are in finance, whether they are in a clinical role, they will do an amazing job every day. They will find there is something inside them to keep going when they’re tired. If it’s just doing the job, if it just pays the bills, then they are into the ‘do’ stuff. That’s where they will get very disengaged when the business changes or the structures change or the salaries aren’t growing. It’s not to say we don’t want more money, but we have a reason behind us. I think these questions we need to ask are all around what’s important, what drives you, what your values are, what your beliefs are.. From there, then you get a sense of what your purpose is.
Grant Leboff: How important is it to define it completely? You’ve asked a few questions there to get to that place. What really excites you? What are your values? What do you believe in? These are questions that some people may struggle to answer as well, but some people can answer more of those types of questions. How important do you think it is to actually define it? So…ask yourself those questions and get to a point where you can absolutely define it in a succinct way.
Steve Head: I think just to take the pressure off. Most people ask the question of.. don’t have the answer. Very few people, I don’t care who you are, sit down in a pub and ask me, “What’s your purpose?” “I don’t know what my purpose is.” What I experience, it’s not to say this is in a textbook, it’s what I find, is that people who … Through life, you’ve got a series of chapters. When I was young, I was a squash player. I played county squash. I got involved in the leisure industry. If you had asked me at 19, 18, 20, “What’s your purpose?” “To be the best squash player and to be the best coach I can be. That’s all that matters to me.” I hadn’t even discovered the pharmaceutical industry. I didn’t know there was such a thing as the pharmaceutical industry. One day I’m in a car, and I get introduced to a friend to the pharma industry.
I because a pharmaceutical rep, I develop a career. If you asked when I was 22 to 24, 26, I want to be the best manager in the world. I want to be successful in sales. I want to change the world. I want to bring new drugs to the market that are going to be innovative. Then I got into the speaking industry. Then you want to be inspirational. I think it’s a bit like climbing a mountain. You suddenly think, “I’m at the top.” No, you’re not. There is another bit. That bit of my life is now stored and been really helpful. I think there is a thread of consistency. It’s always with me been about people and communication and excitement and energy. There is elements of me which if I was in a different kind of role, I genuinely would find the days very long.
I do think it’s about being accepting that you don’t have to have the one thing. For me, it’s having an array of roles and responsibilities and find out your purpose areas and raison d’être in each and I don’t think you have to worry. I’ll give you a quick example. My son is a magician. He’s 19 years old. When he was 17, he got sick at school in terms of he was cheesed off and said, “I want to do magic.” Right, son. Follow your passion. He loves magic, he’s in to magic. He’s good at magic. He got to the finals of Young Magician of the Year. He does magic pretty much all the time. It’s all he talks about, he mixes with. If you ask Christopher now, “What’s your purpose?” It will be something like, “To become the greatest magician, closeup magician, on the planet.” At this point in time. I’m not saying it’s ever going to change, but that’s what it would be.
Chris Akabusi who is a good mate of mine, we spend a lot of time talking about various things of life, he had a lovely phrase. I was talking about Christopher finding running the business quite difficult, but being a magician is relatively straight forward for him. But you have to run a business to be able to get the clients to do the magic. Chris Akabusi I was telling this to, he said, I thought it was a beautiful phrase, “If he just keeps doing the magic, the future will take care of itself.” To me, that was a beautifully eloquent, poetic way of saying, “If you focus on the thing you’re passionate about, your raison d’être, your thing, your essence, in that moment, the future takes care of itself. I think that was absolutely brilliant. I came back and told him that. He completely chilled. I thought that was brilliant.
Grant Leboff: When you are trying to find your passion, what you’re saying is that your passionate about today and although there will be common themes, it’s okay for that to evolve over time?
Steve Head: Yeah. Absolutely. I think it’s very rare … People look back. There’s a few people I’m sure that get into something and that’s then forever. I think most people I meet in the day-to-day life that I have, there is the odd celebrity person who has done something unique, but they are aiming for the gold medal in the Olympics. A lot of Olympians actually find this is the case, when they do retire, they get a big depressed because their whole lives have worked toward, “What’s your purpose?” “Gold Medal, Olympics. Gold Medal, Olympics.” They get the gold, they get the three golds if you are Chris Hoy,or five if you are Redgrave. Then suddenly you retire.
Grant Leboff: Now what?
Steve Head: What is there to do? Often become a speaker. Something. You can’t say it to them when they are training for their gold medal, “What’s your real purpose though? What’s the bigger one than that?” At the moment they can’t see past it, the next peak. “When I get there, I’ll worry about what’s after it.” They are incredibly driven at that point. Because the question you’ve go to ask is why is even important of a purpose in the first place. The reason it is important in the first place is the purpose that gets you moving. It gets you going. It gets you active. If you get out of bed, and all it is stuff to do, it’s just stuff, then I’m not surprised that people wake up and think, “I’m not doing this anymore. When’s retirement coming?”
That’s the whole purpose of it. I think we’ve go to not worry to much about whether we’ve got every single part of our lives mapped out. Just focus on something, have something to get you out of bed in the morning that makes you feel wow. I want people to say, “I get to go to work.” Not, “I’ve got to go to work.” There is a very big difference between those two things.
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