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Living on purpose

Over the years, I have been fortunate to participate in numerous Leadership Development Courses both on the civilian side and in the military. A few years ago, I was introduced to a world-class leadership organization located right her in Northeast Wisconsin. At the time, Superintendent Glenn Schlender had invited me to one of their events as a visitor. I was immediate hooked as the content and delivery were unlike anything I had experienced before. The name of the organization is Initiative One, and just last year, our very own County Administrator Scott Feldt, who was also impressed by this organization made it possible for members of our County Leadership staff to attend their leadership Transformation series.


While some may think this type of training is not necessary for Department Heads, I would disagree as there is a big difference between management experience and leadership experience, and very seldom in our professional lives do we have the opportunity to develop and grow those leadership skills. One of the first fundamentals in this training is personal accountability. This means that we must be willing to have those tough conversations when necessary and constantly be conducting “Self-Checks” to affirm that we are, in fact, living each day by the standards we set not only for ourselves but for those we are leading.


Another foundation of ethical leadership is “Living on Purpose”. This may seem rudimentary as we all live our days completing tasks and checking off our daily “To Do” lists. Many times, we confuse our occupations or personal obligations with purpose, and there is, in fact, a difference. Purpose has been described by one wise person as “Where you have the greatest joy while making your greatest impact without wearing out your soul.”


I like to think of that statement in relation to a cell phone battery. There are certain things we must do every day that drains that battery down and other things we do that automatically charge that same battery. If we are lucky enough to be able to engage in those battery charging tasks and in doing so bring about a positive impact to those around us, we have arrived at a life of purpose. For some, their jobs are truly just that, a place to derive a wage, while for others, their jobs bring about purpose. If you are one of those who do not derive purpose from your day-to-day occupation, there is good news in that you have the entire personal aspect of your life to incorporate this sense of purpose. We see this all around us every day in those who volunteer to make our community a better place.


This “Life on Purpose” approach not only brings with it an ability to fully enrich each and every day, but it also correlates to improved health both mentally and physically. It changes our internal conversation from “I have to do this” to “I get to do this!”


Life is there for us to embark upon, but a little shift in mindset could make the journey an amazing one. It is up to each one of us to decide if we will merely survive in life or thrive in life. 

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