New Year Reflections: How You Connect with Purpose Matters

“We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.”

John Dewey

The power of reflection is often underrated despite its incredible benefits. In fact, a Harvard Business School study reported that when employees spent fifteen minutes at the end of their day reflecting about what they learned, they improved their performance by 23 percent in only ten days. With January only a few days away, I find myself inspired to reflect on what I can learn from a year that brought us so many firsts and unusual events. 

I recently began interviewing some of my past and current clients so I could reflect on what worked and how I can improve upon my partnerships in the future. They’ve been incredibly helpful conversations, and I feel privileged to have partnered with some terrific leaders who are doing great work. As I ponder the common thread that has guided my consultancy, I’m reminded that I’m in the business of connecting people to their purpose.

If you’ve read any of Dan Pink’s books, then you know he believes that all but a very few of us are in the purpose business. “Whether we’re employees pitching colleagues on a new idea, entrepreneurs enticing funders to invest, or parents and teachers cajoling children to study, we spend our days trying to move others,” says Pink.

How you connect people to purpose matters—especially because the best outcomes are created by a collective effort. But the healthiest of team cultures experience encounters that get messy. That’s why I love working with clients to help them arrive at intentional decisions more productively—whether those are through daily interactions or more strategic conversations. I enjoy giving clients the tools to work through differing viewpoints and decision-making styles so they experience clarity and feel energized about advancing their mission.

Amy Hever, who is the Major League Baseball Players Trust Director, has a great way of explaining my approach to keeping an eye on purpose. She explains that my holistic view of the organizational purpose enables me to ask the bigger, greater questions that evoke answers that are accurate and, more importantly, can be implemented. This was a learning moment for me because I hadn’t heard my guidance described in these terms before.

Amy Hever reflects on how my purpose-driven questions enhanced her organization.

As you embark on a new year, I hope you take time to reflect on what you’ve learned and what connection you have to your purpose. Are you asking the right questions that generate helpful answers that advance your goals? If you find that there are obstacles, different decision-making styles, or agendas disrupting your focus on that purpose, what can you do to help create the right conditions to work together? If you’d like to share what you’re working on, I’d be happy to connect with you.

AUTHOR - James Mueller

Jim Mueller is president of James Mueller & Associates LLC (JMA), a national consulting firm that provides services in the areas of organizational development, governance, and philanthropy. Follow Jim on LinkedIn.