Are you living with purpose?
I think a lot of us ask this question wondering if what we do really matters and if it’s changing the world for better.
Last week on Facebook Live, I sat down with Workmatters president and my good friend, David Roth, and shared some thoughts on what it means to find purpose in your work, make the journey matter and go with the detours in life.
You can also read the transcript below.
David Roth: Welcome, Facebook Friends. My name’s David Roth. I’m president of WorkMatters and it is my privilege today to be with my friend, Elise Mitchell. Welcome, Elise.
Elise Mitchell: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.
DR: Elise is our keynote speaker at our 14th annual WorkMatters Leadercast and we’re going to spend a few minutes this morning diving into a little bit of what you’ll talk about at the conference.
Elise, Leadercast is about three weeks away and the theme for the conference is Powered by Purpose. Purpose is such a crucial word in our work. Tell us a little bit around what that looks like from a leadership standpoint.
EM: You know, it’s a great question. I cannot imagine not having a sense of purpose in our work. But, I think a lotof us wonder does what I’m doing really matter? Is it changing the world for better? Am I making a difference in other people’s lives? And while we search for purpose – which is a great thing to do, I’m excited we’re going to do that with Leadercast – I think part of that search begins with looking inward.
Really knowing yourself and understanding yourself is important. You have to ask yourself, ‘What are my gifts and talents? Am I really using those in my work? What are my values?” For many of us that’s driven by our faith. ‘What do I believe in? How does it align with what I’m doing?’ And then ultimately, of course, ‘What do I want my life’s work to be about?’
Some of that can be seen over the course of a career, but honestly, I think you want to have that sense of purpose every day. The tasks that I’m doing every day – is there purpose and meaning in those things? It’s very important.
DR: You wrote a book. An incredible book that’s been out for two or three months, Leading Through the Turn. And in the book, you talk about your passion for riding motorcycles. And through riding motorcycles, you learned a number of leadership principles. Tell us a little bit around how those things came together and what that looks like.
EM: Well, it’s funny because motorcycling came at a pivotal point in my life. Honestly, David, there was a time – and you’ve known me a long time, so you know this about me – there was a time when all I thought about was winning at work. And I didn’t have time for hobbies – actually I didn’t make time for hobbies, and that needed to change. My life was suffering because I was focusing on work and needed to reinvest in those parts of my life.
So my husband and I decided to go on a trip together, which we hadn’t done for a number of years — we were just busy with work and raising our kids. I agreed in a moment of insanity to get on the back of his motorcycle and take a 10-day trip. And I remember thinking this is going to be uncomfortable, I don’t know why I’m doing this. But you know what? I got on the back of his bike and I never looked back. I was hooked.
Motorcycling is one of the most exhilarating ways to travel. The sights, the sounds, the smells. It’s such an amazing experience. And most importantly, it taught me about joy in the journey. I realized I was so focused on reaching destinations in my life that I wasn’t really appreciating the ride and the joy of life. I wanted that to change.
I remember when we came back from the trip and my husband said, ‘Elise, you were meant to ride. You should ride your own bike.’ So when I took the motorcycle safety course, I learned a fundamental principle of motorcycling called looking through the turn. It works like this: as you approach a turn in the road, which is where a lot of the hazards are, you determine whether or not there are potholes or oil slicks that might make your bike wreck.
But you don’t stare straight into the turn because, if you do, you’ll drive right into it. Your bike will follow your eyes. Instead they teach you to keep your eyes focused on where you want to end up. Looking through the turn.
When I heard that, I thought to myself this is a powerful metaphor for business and life, and it really stuck with me. I thought, ‘How do I become a leader who is looking through the turn, or in my book, leading though the turn? How do I become a leader who does that?’ Ever since that time, I’ve really made that my mantra and tried to live that way — and lead that way. That’s what inspired me to write the book.
DR: That’s awesome. Also in your book, you talk about bumps in the road. You talk about plans that you had that maybe were different than God’s plans and how you overcame those, how you dealt with those. I know there are a number of people watching this video that are struggling with that. Maybe they’ve had some setbacks in their career. Can you speak to what you’ve learned around changing plans and how you dealt with it?
EM: Well, it’s funny. We always make these plans in life. I liken it to when my husband Raye and I go on motorcycle trips. We get on the computer, look at the map and plan very carefully all the roads and the routes that we’re going to take. But a lot of times the ride doesn’t turn out like that. You have these detours that occur. And I thought how similar that was in life.
I remember a very specific time in my life when I had a big detour. It was a career-changer. And it was not what I wanted. It was very unexpected. And I had a choice at that time that I could go and be bitter about this change or I could go and let it make me better. It just reminded me it’s not as much what happens to you in life, but it’s how you respond to what happens to you that really matters and defines who you are as a person.
I learned some very valuable lessons around that. The idea of being willing to go with detours in life because you’re probably going to end up in some pretty terrific destinations. You can see God’s hand in those detours. I know many people are in personal detours, they’re in professional detours, they’re in health detours, things that are unwanted. And we have to figure out how we’re going to respond in those moments.
DR: That’s powerful. Well, I’ve read the book, of course, a couple of times and I know that what you’re going to share at Leadercast is going to be extraordinary, so much deep teaching from your life as an entrepreneur, the hard lessons that you’ve learned through your life.
We’re really looking forward to you unpacking this in more detail in about three weeks at Leadercast. Before we close, though, I do want you to share with our audience a little bit more about your book and how they might be able to buy it and listen to it.
EM: Thank you. I appreciate that. So the book is called Leading Through the Turn. Published by McGraw-Hill, came out just a few months ago. There’s a really simple thing – one thing that people can do if they’re interested in finding out more – is to go to my website, which is elisemitchell.com.
Everything is there. You can buy the book there. I have a very active blog where I share not only lessons from the book, but leadership lessons in the trenches, things I’m learning every day now. So I post regularly to it. We invite people to join our list there. They can subscribe and get notices of when we post to our blog.
Also – this is kind of exciting – my publisher asked me to do an audio recording of my book. It is available now on audible.com. I actually recorded it myself. The beauty of that is that my publisher wanted it to be a really authentic read from the author, to share the emotion and the passion that comes with sharing my own work.
DR: Well, for our viewers here today, we hope that you’ll join us for the 14th annual Workmatters Leadercast. There will be over 1,000 people there that day so I want to encourage you, if you haven’t bought your ticket yet, to attend Leadercast, but also don’t come alone. Bring a co-worker. Bring a friend. Bring a family member. And for those of you that lead teams, I highly encourage you to bring your entire team.
I can’t tell you with 1,000+ people there, how many people, small companies, literally shut their companies down to attend. Leaders that have a small or large team bring their entire team.
Work is hard. We’re running fast. And this is such an incredible opportunity to just slow down and listen to leaders like Elise Mitchell and nine other speakers from around the United States.
They’re some of the greatest leaders in the entire country. So, I want to encourage you to buy your ticket and here’s how you can do that.
Click on this video and it will take you right to the website. Or you can go to the website at nwaleadercast.com and you can buy your tickets there.
Look forward to you seeing and hearing Elise. And also, just know, that Elise’s resources will be available at Leadercast, as well, so if you want to purchase them then.
Thank you so much. We’ll see you next time.