The Most Powerful Thing We Can Do to Unleash Greater Success and Joy in Life

By Patrice Tanaka, Founder & Chief Joy Officer, Joyful Planet

The most powerful thing I’ve ever done in my life, in terms of personal and professional development, was to discover my life’s purpose.

When I shared it with my then-executive coach 15 years ago, it started me on an exciting and unexpected journey that continues to this day. I’ve actually accomplished more in the past 15 years since discovering and articulating my life purpose than I had in the previous 30 years – and I was no slouch in those earlier years!

Discovering the power of purpose is what led me to leave the last of three PR and marketing agencies I co-founded – PT&Co., CRT/tanaka and PadillaCRT (now Padilla) – to focus on helping individuals and organizations discover and live their purpose and unleash greater success, fulfillment and joy in their lives, in their workplaces and in the world.

I often say that discovering our life’s purpose is the single most efficient and powerful thing we can do to unleash our leadership potential and the joy of a more fulfilling life. And I know this from personal experience and research.  

There’s strong evidence, indicating that “purpose-driven” organizations significantly out-perform “profit-only” focused organizations – 1681 percent vs. 118 percent growth over a 15-year period among all S&P companies, according to the book, Firms of Endearment, How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose.

I’m merely extrapolating this idea down to the individual level to posit that “purpose-driven” individuals will significantly out-perform “me-only” focused individuals.

It seems that determining our life purpose should be a “no brainer” – especially for leaders, however, “fewer than 20% of leaders have a strong sense of their individual purpose…even fewer can distill their individual purpose into a concrete statement,” according to the authors of “From Purpose to Impact” in the Harvard Business Review (May 2014). The authors go on to say that “the process of articulating your purpose and finding the courage to live it – what they call ‘purpose to impact’ – is the single, most important developmental task you can undertake as a leader.”

We all understand the power of a clearly articulated business goal and purpose. We set these goals for our own agencies and businesses. My five-year goal when building my first agency, PT&Co., was concisely stated as: Five years/50 people/$5MM fee income. This easy-to-remember business goal/mantra was known and embraced by all our employees and did help us reach this goal, although it took us a bit longer – seven years. Had we not clearly stated this business goal, I’m not sure we would have achieved it or how much longer it would have taken us to do so.

Our business purpose when building PT&Co. was to create “Great work. Great workplace. Great communities that work.” This easy to remember business purpose helped us win nearly 200 awards and be named the “#1 Most Creative” and “#2 Best Workplace” among all PR agencies in the U.S. within eight years of starting PT&Co.

Succinctly articulating your business purpose is very, very powerful stuff!

The same holds true for the power of a clearly articulated and succinct life purpose. It can focus and drive us to achieve and often exceed what is most important for us to accomplish in life. 

Many of us wouldn’t begin any important project at work without first, upfront, determining the goals, objectives and desired results. Yet many of us begin the most important project of all – our own lives – without first thinking about and deciding what’s most important for us to accomplish. We just lurch forward and hope for the best. Not the most efficient way to accomplish what is most important for us.

Knowing our purpose is a powerful, “competitive advantage” in business and life because it focuses and galvanizes us to achieve what matters most.

I believe that if more of the 7.2 billion people on our planet are living their life’s purpose and leveraging their greatest talent, expertise and passion in service of other people and our planet this is how we can, individually and collectively, create a more joyful planet. Post-agency life, my mission is to encourage and help more people and organizations to discover and actively live their purpose. I am thankful to be focused on this truly exciting and galvanizing work!  

My new consultancy, Joyful Planet, is the direct outgrowth of the life purpose I shared with my executive coach 15 years ago: “To choose joy in my life, to be mindful of that joy, and to share that joy with others.”  

I look forward to talking more about life purpose in my luncheon keynote at the PRSA 2017 Counselors Academy Conference.

See you there!

Patrice Tanaka is a serial entrepreneur, having co-founded three award-winning, PR & marketing firms and, most recently, Joyful Planet, a Business & Life Strategy Consultancy. “Through Joyful Planet, I am doing what I love and do best, leveraging my creative, problem-solving talent to help individuals and organizations discover and live their purpose and unleash greater success, fulfillment and joy in their lives, in their workplaces and in the world,” says Patrice. This is the subject of Patrice’s new best-selling book, Beat the Curve, co-authored with world renowned management consultant and coach, Brian Tracy, and other business leaders. Her chapter is entitled, “Live Your Life’s Purpose and Unleash Your Joy.” Connect with and via LinkedIn/Patrice Tanaka and Twitter/Patrice Tanaka.