Analytical 29: Purpose

14 September, 2018


Purpose and Passion are inter-related but in ways that might not be obvious at first glance. We unpack why purpose is critical and how it changes everything.

Transcript available
[Music] Everything can be improved, iterated and refined. And if you don't think that's true, maybe you haven't analyzed it enough. Calculated choices carefully considered. Absolutely analytical. Analytical is part of the Engineer Network. To support our shows, including this one, head over to our Patreon page. and for other great shows with the today. Purpose. A long time ago I watched a movie, I'll let you figure out which one and here's a quote from it. "Without purpose we would not exist, it is purpose that created us, purpose that connects us, purpose that pulls us, that guides us, that drives us. It is purpose that defines us, purpose that binds us." Funny thing about that quote was that when I first heard it, I thought, "Gee, what a lot of waffle." Certainly, it's a bit repetitive for sure. And I mean, if it's pulling us, then that pull kind of guides us. And if it's driving us, then that's similar to that as well. So, let's just condense that a little bit. Purpose motivates, guides, and brings us together. Simple enough. Let's look at each one of them. Purpose motivates. I've spoken before in episode 10 of Pragmatic about passion and I'd like to refine that a bit now. Passion for a subject or a task is mostly an outcome that comes from our purpose. That's not to say people can't have passion without a purpose but when they do it's either because well maybe they haven't analyzed it enough and and realized that they have a buried purpose at some level that's driving that passion. The other option in those cases is that it's probably a fleeting passion which is fine. I feel like if we have no purpose then passion is much less likely to ever manifest. Think of it like a bonfire that's about to be lit. One of them is built on using dry logs, twigs, sticks and dry grass and purpose keeps that dry and tender so that when we light the passion burns hot those embers and that passion will generate lots of heat long after the tall flames have died down but without purpose imagine the same pile of materials but it's damp and it's moist and it's wet and it just won't light but what you do is you just Pour some gasoline on it, right, to light it up. There'll be huge flames to begin with, lots of passion. But at its core, there's nothing. There's no hot coals, it peters out, and in no time, the passion's gone. There's no embers and there's no drive. Purpose guides us too. Without a long-term goal or a plan or a strategy, we can happily pour time and energy into random tasks or mini projects that don't really have a cohesive end result. Directionless, I guess you could say. It'd be haphazard, all over the place, unfocused, random. But if you add a purpose for an individual and then all of these little actions can be aligned in some way to that purpose, suddenly all of those little efforts that were previously in random directions, they're all turned around, pointed in a common direction. And that ultimately means that your purpose has guided that direction. I mean, it applies beyond individuals, it applies to teams as well. Obviously teams of people, having a common purpose is critical if you're ever going to achieve anything significant. Purpose brings us together. Alone as individuals, there's a limit to how much we can achieve. It's sad, but it's true. One person for the number of hours they're conscious in a day, and assume they don't get sick, there's a certain amount of time in a day, certain amount of time that they're conscious, certain amount of time in a year, there's only so much you can do. Now, most of the biggest leaps in human history have been team efforts and not driven and may have been driven by an individual, but they certainly weren't planned, designed, built, executed, constructed, tested, whatever. All of that was very rarely done by one person alone acting completely alone. They were team efforts. I can think of a bunch of examples and maybe these are good or bad ones, but I mean, Pyramid as an example, the moon landing is another example, Great Wall of China, that's another example and so on. There's lots and lots and lots of examples. You can even argue the same as true of an iPhone or an iPad or even the original Windows or Xerox machines. It doesn't really matter. All of those things were team efforts. Mind you, some of the first ones I listed could have been debated that they were voluntary or involuntary, meaning they driven by slavery, but that's not really the point. The point is a common purpose brings people together and that effect can be enormous. Recently, I reflected on why I was enjoying my role at the time in my day job. At first, I thought it was just the fact I was able to fix things that were broken at the company I worked at, but that really wasn't the whole story. I wanted to fix things that were bigger than I could fix alone. And I had a wonderful team delivering on that. And that was wonderful. So long as that underlying common purpose was there, that was what made it wonderful. If you take that purpose away though, it turns very quickly. So if you're leading someone, then it seems to me that you should be giving them a purpose, not just work, but a purpose and to back them in that purpose. And getting people aligned to a purpose beyond your own. Sometimes purpose will find us. Other times it's already there, but you just need to recognize it when you see it. Finding that thing, whatever that might be, that you feel some passion for, and understand the underlying purpose that fans those flames, that drives that passion. Because I think if you can actually find your true purpose and understand what motivates that, then tap into it. Because if you can, and you do that, then the passion will likely follow. And often, that passion will inspire others to follow you as well. If you're enjoying Analytical and want to support the show, you can, like some of our backers, Carsten Hansen and John Whitlow. They, and many others, are patrons of the show via Patreon, and you can find it at or one word. Patron rewards include a named thank you on the website, a named thank you at the end of episodes, access to pages of raw show notes, as well as ad-free, high-quality releases of every episode. So if you'd like to contribute something, anything at all, there's lots of great rewards and beyond that, it's very much appreciated. Analytical is part of the Engineer Network and you can find it at and you can follow me on Mastodon at or the network on Twitter @engineered_net. Accept nothing, question everything. It's always a good time to analyze something. I'm John Chiji. Thanks for listening. (upbeat music) [Music]
Duration 8 minutes and 37 seconds Direct Download

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John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.