Find Your Purpose

How creators are driving change through the power of small

The current problems in the world can feel insurmountable. Global politics. The environment. Inequality. In the face of such big challenges, it’s easy to feel powerless, insignificant, useless and unmotivated. It’s easy to feel that as individuals there is nothing we can do in the face of such huge issues. After all, what difference can one person make when a million pieces of plastic are making their way into the oceans every minute?

Well, the good news is that finding purpose in life can be a strong antidote to these feelings as well as helping you find meaningful ways to take action:

A man wearing big glasses sitting at a table with shoes and material made from ocean plastic in front of him. Finding your purpose in life, Purpose meaning, Purpose Definition, Define Purpose, GamePlan A
Cyrill Gutsch started with a belief that he should do something about the problem of marine plastic pollution.

Even the smallest acts can lead to something much bigger.

When Cyrill Gutsch founded Parley for the Oceans and started talking about the problems of marine plastic pollution, he didn’t know he’d inspire change in a brand as big as adidas. He was just compelled to do something – he was living with purpose.

Doing and supporting what we love

For businesses, the idea of purpose is gaining importance as employees and consumers search for meaningful work and brands that represent their world view and ethical standpoint.

According to recent research, nearly two-thirds of consumers around the world now buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue. For brands like adidas,  our core belief and purpose “Through sport, we have the power to change lives” goes deeper than just advertising. It goes to the heart of our company’s culture. We are a purpose-driven company which attracts and nurtures people who strive to live with purpose.

We went on a journey to capture the thoughts and experiences of some of these colleagues. We want their stories to inspire and motivate you to find your own, unique purpose. Don’t take this as just another how-to guide but come back to the story whenever you need some affirmation, and whenever we find another nugget we’ll share it with you here.

Whether you are looking to improve your company culture, or on a personal search for fulfillment, finding purpose in life is key. Read on to explore our four key questions to kick-start your purpose journey.

The Four Big Questions for Finding Your Purpose

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    WHY?

    Why do we need to find our purpose in life? As humans, to feel fulfilled, we need direction, goals to strive for, and a sense that we are making a difference.

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    WHERE?

    If you are trying to find what your purpose in life is, you might be asking the wrong questions. To help you find purposeful opportunities ask yourself what are your skills and passions, but also WHERE can you use them to benefit and influence others?

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    WHAT?

    WHAT ingredients can help you create your individual purpose? Add what you love to what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can get paid for.

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    WHO?

    WHO will help amplify your message? If you want to create true positive change, you need to harness the power of many (and it isn’t all about having a million social media followers).

WHY FINDING PURPOSE IN LIFE IS IMPORTANT

As humans, we need direction, goals to strive for, a sense that we are using our talents, indulging our passions, and a feeling that we are making a difference. If you have a nagging sense of frustration or emptiness then it might be because you are missing these things, either at work or in your home life.

That goal for Kelli George at adidas is to develop more sustainable materials for footwear, while at home it’s about supporting her three adopted children to thrive in their new family and new country. Watch her powerful story here or below.

Businesses without a clearly defined purpose can easily lose their way, especially in a disrupted world where consumers are less and less willing to support companies who put profit over people and planet.

Still wondering why purpose is important?

In the following section, check out these inspiring videos, audio clips and quotes from adidas employees and partners as they share why purpose is important to them.

Three Reasons WHY Purpose Matters

  • As a business, ignore Gen X and Gen Z at your peril, they are motivated and savvy with their spending power and choosing to support companies committed to having a positive impact on society.

  • Acting with purpose may run against traditional corporate thinking. But the business world is changing and investors are now actively seeking out companies with a clear long-term purpose.

  • Having a clear purpose in your work or home life can help you overcome obstacles and tackle even the most difficult times.

WHERE YOU CAN FIND PURPOSE

If you are struggling in your search for purpose it might be that you are asking the wrong questions. If ‘What is my purpose in life?’ isn’t providing many answers, instead ask yourself ‘WHERE can I find my purpose?’

By identifying the places where you can put your skills and passions to use, you will move in the right direction. Work can be a place where you can bring your purpose to life as one adidas employee found:

Hear more from Johannes below about how building a LGBT Network gave him the opportunity to live with purpose outside his day-to-day marketing role.

Perhaps there is a parallel opportunity within your workplace that could give you your purposeful hit? A good way to start your search for purpose is to ask…

What are my skills and passions, and crucially WHERE can I use them? What is my platform?

If your current job isn’t providing the solution, then perhaps it is time to look for a new role. Or, be satisfied that work is simply paying the bills for now and allowing you to live with purpose in your free time.

Bear in mind that the places and activities which provide your sense of purpose will change over time. This idea of changing purpose is something we hear about from both experts and anecdotal evidence.

In his interview below, Luc shares the story of how his whole purpose changed just by reading one book. It is a great example that what inspired you as a teenager might be different from your sense of purpose now.

If you’re looking for further inspiration, explore the following insights from people who are finding purpose in different aspects of their lives.

Three Places WHERE You Can Find Purpose

  • Your platform for purpose can be work. Look for opportunities in your job or explore new roles.

  • Start where you are right now. Your reach doesn’t have to be global. Impacting your local community can be just as powerful.

  • Be mindful that your purpose can change over time. As you grow you will find yourself in different environments with different life ambitions.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO MAKE PURPOSE HAPPEN AND HOW TO GET STARTED

It’s easy to think that finding purpose in life has to be a huge undertaking. It’s easy to get frustrated and feel we’ll only be able to achieve something small and insignificant. If you are de-motivated by thoughts like these it can be difficult to start looking for your purpose.

Essentially, purpose is about service. Understanding your business and life purpose is about realizing how you should best invest your time to impact others positively.Review what makes you unique and how that can benefit others.

Ikigai is a Japanese concept meaning ‘a reason for being’. It combines four elements to help finding purpose in life.

Add what you love to what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can get paid for.

In other words, it’s less about what you have and more about what you can give. It’s about doing something worthwhile, using your strengths and passions.

Think about your purpose as a combination of your message and the right space. Businesses with purpose are clear about their values and the messages they stand for. Because, for a brand, your values drive your value. They also know their audience and listen actively to how they can add value to them.

When you listen to the people you want to help, you will understand what you need to create or do to benefit them.

Lastly, purpose requires visibility. To affect positive change, you must use your voice actively to spread your message. No matter what space you are in.

Carla Webster-Reid, a fitness director at a community gym in Boston, regularly runs in her local neighborhood, living the difference she wants to make – to encourage self-care and exercise in a community unfamiliar with its incredible benefits. By setting an example, she inspires others to join in.

Want to explore more examples of WHAT purpose can be?
Check out what adidas employees and partners share on what their purpose is, both in their lives and careers.

Three Ways to Define WHAT Your Purpose Is

  • Connect your passion and strengths to something that can empower others.

  • Sharing your beliefs and values can give you purpose. Listen actively to understand your audience and use your voice to show what you stand for.

  • Be visible to those you want to impact positively. When you understand what they need and live what you want to accomplish, you help others achieve the same.

WHO TO CONNECT WITH TO ELEVATE YOUR PURPOSE

Wanting to live your purpose will eventually lead you to the desire to create positive change at scale. While the world might make you believe that you cannot achieve anything without having a million followers on social media, there are ways to elevate your efforts without a massive reach – firstly you need to team up.

If you want to create true positive change, you need to harness the power of many. Sharing your purpose makes it more powerful. When everyone brings their unique skills to the table, you balance each other’s weaknesses out and add your strengths up.

So how do you know with whom to gather your individual powers?

Firstly, you can feel connected and collaborate with others even if they don’t have the same purpose as you. What’s crucial is that you share common goals and values. That might be a specific project, cause or ongoing work – what matters is that you are aligned with those around you on what the objective of it is.

Secondly, when you communicate your purpose openly, you will explore how many people might be eager to team up with you to fulfill it.

Lastly, reach out to your communities. Uniting with people who have access to their communities increases your reach across countries, industries, and platforms. When everyone focuses on the influence they can make in their own environment, you have the chance to expand your purpose to places you otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

As Asma did, when she was campaigning FIBA to allow women to play professional basketball while wearing the hijab. She explored the power of many, gathering athletes around the world together for the same cause.

Want to explore more examples of WHO to grow your purpose with? Check out what adidas employees and partners share on who they teamed up with to increase their impact.

Three Ways to Know WHO to Connect With to Elevate Your Purpose

  • Gather a support system around you that shares your values and purpose to explore your full potential.

  • The more diverse your team, the more innovative and creative you are. Team up across skillsets, so that various expertise and experiences amplify your efforts.

  • Unite with people with whom you share a passion for change. When each connects to their own communities, you can scale your reach.

WANT INSPIRATION (BUT SHORT ON TIME)?

If you want to get a quick hit of purpose inspiration, we’ve compiled all of our interviews and quotes into one easy-to-navigate directory.

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by Kevin Raney 20.02.2020
Thank your for this article. It reminds me of a quote, “ A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan next week.” Sometimes good enough is perfect. Finding purpose is a journey and this is a wonderful framework and a gentle reminder that we never walk alone. I love how you weave in the wisdom of Ikigai, thank you. It would be fascinating to talk about the journey and the “How” of finding your purpose. How do you know you are headed towards a dead end or another curious fork in the road? Thank you again for sharing.
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Nina Weihrauch
Nina Weihrauch | Editor Kevin Raney 20.02.2020
Hi Kevin,
I like POV a lot. I think that some of us might not get started, because we either don't have a clear vision of the end goal (which I think is not always necessary if you have a plan and embrace the journey) or we feel the pressure of starting our purpose journey in a perfect and complete way, which can feel overwhelming.
The truth is that every single act can create change and as Asma Elbadawi said in the article: it's not about having 150k followers on Instagram.
Where are you in your purpose journey?

Best,
Nina
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by Frank Kevin Raney 20.02.2020
Fully agree. We often talk about how important it is to slice a big objective down into tangible commitments/goals that will eventually add up to the big achievement. But then we often expect from ourselves to immediately know/find this ONE driving force (purpose) right from the start...why not allow ourselves to find our purpose step by step, too? Achievement by achievement. All it takes is self-awareness and some space to reflect on the journey. The important part is: get started.
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