Written by Antonio Lucio, Founder and Principal of 5SDiversity
After finishing the fourth edition of our mentoring sessions with the Leadership Empowerment Acceleration Project (LEAP), I noticed that many marketing leaders were compelled to look deeper into the subject of purpose.
Why? The cumulative impact of the pandemic and the current macroeconomic challenges has made people more reflective about their life and work. Many of our leaders are tired. They expected a sense of normalcy to return to their lives by now. Instead, they are primarily focused on driving short-term revenue and efficiency.
On the latter, justifying marketing spend and headcount has become the most intense part of marketing leaders’ work. Because so much time and energy has been devoted to muscling through challenges, the famous “Why?” is becoming a critical existential question.
My mentor, the late Phillip Gould, used to say our modern life is creating a divide between the “spiritual and the material selves,” or the person we want to be, and the person we are in our daily lives. To make more sense of the world, our work, and our lives, we must begin by defining our purpose.
He often said, “It is by living a life of purpose and finding purpose in the life that we live that we can bridge the divide between material and spiritual. It is how we make our lives whole. It is how we become what we truly are.”
Philip believed purpose drives our actions and reactions. As leaders, we are defined by the circumstances or actions that affect our lives, but more importantly, by our responses to those circumstances.
Uncovering Your Purpose
The main question around purpose is “Where to start” or “How to find it?”
Finding it can feel like a significant undertaking, but Purpose does not need to be found–it needs to be uncovered.
As Michelangelo said, his role was to uncover the statue that already existed on the rock. Purpose is consciously or unconsciously already driving many aspects of our life. What we must do is name it and make the multiple dimensions of our lives more integrated and intentional.
Our Purpose should provide both direction and boundaries. This should allow you to clearly say yes and no to the opportunities that come your way. It is not as much about “what” we are doing as much as the “how” and “why” we do it. Purpose reflects our deeply held values.
Therefore, it is helpful to start from where we are, both personally and professionally, and ask yourself these questions:
- What are the values we hold dearly that are consistent across the multiple dimensions of ourselves?
- What are the things we do for everyone, regardless of whether they are family or community members of your team?
- How do people we love and care for describe our impact on their lives?
Chances are high that behind those questions, your purpose lies. Our purpose is what we want to be remembered by. And not by the world per se, but by the people who love us. Purpose is the impact we have on the things and people we touch.
“Our purpose is what we want to be remembered by. And not by the world per se, but by the people who love us. Purpose is the impact we have on the things and people we touch.”— Antonio Lucio
Understanding Your Platform of Impact
It may come to your surprise how many people we touch in our lives and our jobs. We all have more agency than we think. We are all leading unique brands and working for some fantastic companies.
The number of people we impact directly or indirectly with our decisions is bigger than most activists, academics, or even some politicians. We have access, impact, and influence.
We have the opportunity to help our teams grow and live meaningful lives and impact how the world sees itself through our communications. This work is an amazing undertaking that should lift every life it reaches.
But in the end, our Purpose will be revealed by what we do, not by what we say. It is not a destination but an endless journey. One person may or may not achieve the full scope of their purpose. But our purpose can be a beacon that guides us where we want to go. It can remind us by giving us emotional discomfort when we are losing our way. And it can affirm when we are aligned with it during our lives.
Integrating Life and Work Through Purpose
As leaders, we spend much time feeling the impossibility of the work-life balance concept. Work-life balance has often been described as a dresser with many identical but separate drawers where we unsuccessfully fight to keep them all filled simultaneously. Given the task’s impossibility, we all feel unfulfilled at best and severely guilty at worst.
What if, instead, we looked at it as a living, breathing, and integrated ecosystem that exists for the preservation of the self and to ensure our impact in the universe? Every component of the ecosystem understands its role. There is clear communication and interaction between the parts, and it can flex every day, given the different needs of the different components of the ecosystems. It aims at equilibrium, but equilibrium is obtained over a lifetime, not every day.
What is critically important is constant and fluid communication within the ecosystem so that everyone understands why and when decisions are made.
One of the people I worked with at Meta, the amazing Bia Botessi from Brazil, explained it best when sharing with her kids her purpose and the critical role that work plays in her life. “Just like you enjoy playtime with your friends, Mommy enjoys her work time with her team. I can give you such quality and a fun time because mommy enjoys her work and finds it important and meaningful.” Bia lives the concept of a purpose-driven life as an integrated living organism.
Seeing Work as a Canvas for Purpose
As you go about your days, always remember that work is not your purpose. Work is one of the biggest canvases to unveil our purpose. Our Purpose will define our Legacy, which is our impact on the things and people we touch. Everything you do counts. We will make mistakes as humans, guaranteed. But how we deal with our errors is vital in defining who we are. Ultimately, all we can hope is that our overarching impact on this world is positive.
Want to hear more from Antonio?
Find out what the new muscles of leadership are with Chris Marino, Global Head of Media & Marketing Technology at Bloomberg Media and Lizette Williams, Global Head of Vertical Solutions Marketing at Meta with special co-hosts Antonio Lucio, Founder & Principal at 5S Diversity and Nick Drake VP of Marketing at Google for a special episode of Visionaries!
Antonio Lucio, Founder and Principal of 5SDiversity, former Global CMO of Meta, HP and Visa: Antonio Lucio is an experienced and successful Global Marketing and Communications Officer whose mission is to build brands that stand the test of time by focusing on the people who build those brands. These brands are anchored in purpose; have a meaningful impact on people’s lives; are built through strong emotional connections; behave with integrity and are constantly reinventing themselves to deliver their purpose.
Antonio has demonstrated a history of building strong global brands. He is skilled in developing successful strategies that drive revenue; building high-performing teams and marketing ecosystems; infusing deep analytics into effective communication strategies and driving meaningful innovation throughout the customer journey. He is a recognized thought leader and global influencer in Marketing transformation and driving results through diversity. Most impactfully, Antonio is a coveted mentor, sponsor, teacher, and supporter of our marketing industry and everyone in it.