Ron's Material Leadership Blog

It is my sincerest hope that the stories I share are helpful to others. I have experienced first hand that many people toil in obscurity, searching for answers, ashamed to reach out and ask for help. This blog will contain experiences and wisdom that I have gained over the years that I hope will offer guidance in dealing with some of life's challenges.

Why the name material leadership? If you are curious the answer is on my website.
The link on the side bar.

Lead well


Friday, November 23, 2007

Finding your Leadership Purpose

Have you ever thought about why you are here on this earth?

What is it that you were destined to do?

Do you even consider that you have a destiny and a purpose?

I think it would be incredibly difficult to be a leader without a clear sense of purpose. In my case I have found that for the majority of my life I had a diffuse sense of purpose. It has been kind of like someone who needs corrective lenses, while not wearing their glasses. You can see things but they are fuzzy and indistinct. You want to rub your eyes and clear things up, but it does not work.

My corrective lenses as it turns out were prescribed in the late 90’s. In my case it was my Christian faith coming to life. My purpose has been honed and clarified in the past 10 years and I can now say clearly:

To make a difference in the life’s of those I meet through my faith in our Lord Jesus Christ

I live this purpose in this blog and my other two, in my professional life as a general manager and in my volunteer activities. I joyfully serve the poor, lead in the men’s ministry and consult as a leadership coach at my church. So that’s me. What about you? What is your purpose?

Have you considered how you might find out what it is?

There are many paths to discovery of the answer of what your purpose is.

Here is what I recommend…


First get in touch with your personal values. These will allow you a clearer sense of what matters to you and hence where your focus would be best placed. There is a remarkably deep well of energy and motivation available to any leader who aligns their actions with a purpose congruent with their values. I am regularly astounded at how much I am willing to sacrifice for a cause I am committed to. I believe that this is true for everyone. We are made for a purpose; the challenge is finding it.

I wrote about values several posts ago. I recommend you go back and review that post for a more in depth approach to this aspect of finding your purpose.

Your values, your sense of self, integrity and adversity


The most complicated aspect of finding your purpose is to be aware of those things that you are passionate about. Like most I struggle to be fully present in the moment. Awareness of your emotional state is not always easy but is definitely powerful. As I discussed in the post on emotional intelligence a while back, awareness of your emotions is the first step to managing them. The other important aspect of emotional awareness is the opportunity to discover the events, issues, topics that you are passionate about. Those things we are passionate about offer us clues as to what our purpose is. You can learn more about emotional awareness and emotional intelligence by clicking here

Purpose Exercise

  • As you go through the next 30 days pay attention to those things that cause emotional spikes then right them down.
  • After compiling at least five events engage in the following process for each event.
    Ask why the first event caused an emotional reaction. Write your response.
    Ask why the explanation of your emotional reaction was the case. Write your
    Ask why at least twice more until you reach a point where you cannot reasonably ask
    why again. Write your response again.
  • Capture the key theme of this event on the left side of the page in block letters.
  • Repeat the process for all other events.
  • Compare the key themes and look for trends. Circle the most obvious key themes.
  • Ask yourself where these key themes are played out in your life?
  • Look for a volunteer activity in an organization engaged in addressing this type of theme.


Early in my career I met a guy who was amazingly talented. He was a hobby plumber, electrician, and carpenter. He was president of the lodge he attended. Yet at work he moved heavy steel plate from one location to another. He had an important job, but one that used almost none of his talent. He asked one day to take computer software courses. His manager refused telling him the courses were unnecessary for his role. This angered me.

Why was I angry?

His manager failed to see that this guy wanted to learn.

Why would this bother me?

I knew this man to be far more capable than his current position required. By refusing him the opportunity to learn, his manager was de-motivating a talented individual.

Why did it matter that the individual was being de-motivated

This man had more potential than the manager in question could ever realize. Her ignorance angered me because the organization would suffer and not benefiting from this individuals unrealized potential.

Why did this bother me?

This story bothered me because the manager and the organization for that matter, were demonstrating poor leadership, wasting talent, and under performing.

I am about developing leaders. Even fifteen years ago the deliberate waste of human capital angered me. I need to develop leaders, this is central to my purpose.

From this exercise the theme of leadership, high performance, employee development, and continuous learning can all be identified. From this and other similar experiences I arrived at my own life purpose.

Your Turn

If you enter into this exercise you may find multiple passions. Some may burn brightly while others are a slow simmer, perhaps others still on defrost in the microwave. The point here is to become aware of them and then ask the right questions about them to discover your purpose(s). Take the time and discover your purpose.

When you have identified a key theme that may be your purpose take action. Find a way to learn about the theme and discover if it ignites your internal passion

If you want to learn more about this or other leadership development topics, visit my leadership coaching blog Developing Leaders or contact me at

Lead well


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Thoughts on a Recent Read

The Dip by Seth Godin

This was the first of Mr. Godin’s books I have read and I must say it will not be the last. I enjoyed this book and found its message wise and on point for our age. The premise of the book is that there is a time to quit a role, project, effort and a time to stay. When we have the opportunity to be the very best and are willing to pay the price, it is time to stay. When it is clear that staying will result in mediocrity or worse yet (Mr. Godin’s term for a dead end) a cul-de-sac, it is time to move on to something where we can be our best. The dip is the place in between. The place where we face opposition, adversity and discouragement. It is here that many wrongly chose to give up when greatness is not that far away for the brave souls who persevere.

Complexity: Low

Length: Short

Compelling: Very much

Worthwhile: Definitely