What purpose and abuse have in common

Several years ago, during the middle of a long, summer road trip, I pulled into a gas station to fill my tank with gas.

I noticed my car was COVERED with bugs. So covered it was like having an extra layer of paint on my car. I was a young professional, just starting his career and thus was too cheap to go through the $5 car wash.

So what do I do?

You know those little things most gas stations put on the side of the pump? You know, to clean your car’s windshield and windows? Well, I decided to tap into my inner-Dollar General and use it to clean the bugs off the front of my car. 

Epic fail.

Not only did the stick that connected to the cleaning apparatus snap in half because of how much force I was using to remove the nasty bugs, I ended up scratching the paint on my car.

By now, you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this.

Last weekend, a family friend of ours said something that sent my mind pondering.

It went something like this: “When you don't know the purpose of something, all you’re doing is abusing what it was created for.”

Sadly, I just thought those little gas station cleaner things were meant to clean anything on cars.

I was wrong.

My story and our family friend’s statement has a direct application to our leadership and personal lives.

Allow me to illustrate with a few questions.

  • Business owners and Leaders, does every one of your employees know the purpose of your organization?
  • Coaches, does every one of your players know the purpose of your team?
  • Teachers, does every one of your students know the purpose of your class?
  • Parents, does every one of your kids know the purpose of your family?
  • Employees, do you know the purpose of your position?

If you can answer “no” to any one of those, chances are there is some abuse going on. And just like my experience at the gas station, that abuse may lead to something getting broken (if it isn’t already). Unfortunately, broken in this context is your organization, team, classroom, family, and performance.

So, what do you do if you answered “no”?

Here’s my encouragement to you. Take a clarity break and check to make sure that the intended purpose for whatever you’re leading or involved in is being lived out.

All it will take is 15 minutes to ask yourself the following four questions in an environment with no distractions.

#1 - Why was my ________ (business, family, etc.) created

Here’s an easy fill-in-the-blank to get you clear: 

The purpose of [_______] (your business, family, etc.)

is to [______] (action word)

[______] (specific audience)

to [_______] (what problem are you solving / opportunity are you creating)

by _________ (what you do).

I’ll share mine from one of my entities as an example. 

“The purpose of [J. Reid Group] is to [help] [business owners and their leadership teams] to [get traction in their businesses and lives] by [implementing a complete, proven system with simple, practical tools].”

#2 - What are my ________ (business’s, family’s, etc.) core values?

When I say core values, I’m not talking about the “cookie-cutter” ones like “integrity,” “hard work,” “reliability,” etc. I’m talking about actionable ones.

When my clients are stuck during the core value discovery process, I always use Infusionsoft’s core values as an example. Check them out here. They are a great example!

#3 - Are MY actions in line with my ________ (business’s, family’s, etc.) intended purpose and core values?

Time for a heart check. Evaluate what you have been doing…sincerely and honestly. Are your actions matching up? If they aren’t, then how could you hold others accountable?

#4 – Are my people perpetuating my _________ (business’s, family’s, etc.) intended purpose and core values?

This is where I recommend getting out a piece of paper, listing out everyone’s names, and then matching up whether or not they are living out each of your core values. When working with clients, I use EOS’s People Analyzer for this exercise.

After you have those four answers, ask yourself this: Is my ________ (business, family, etc.) accomplishing its intended purpose?

If that answer is “no,” I guarantee that it has something to do with a disconnect with one or more of the questions above. If that’s the case, it’s time to round up the troops (i.e. your leadership team, family, etc.), have a heart-to-heart, and get to the root cause of the issues.

Abuse is a nasty thing. And, unfortunately, it will continue to re-occur if the root cause of it isn’t addressed ASAP.

I would enjoy hearing your reaction to this article. Please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me directly.