Page 1 Connect

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vision Versus Purpose-Thought For The Day.

Tweet It!
I was recently revisiting a book from 1990 'the Fifth Discipline" by Peter M Senge, and there's a chapter on Personal Mastery that caught my attention. He talks about creating personal mastery by developing a disciplined approach. Mastery of any subject be it Art, Music, Carpentery or Cooking is achieved by continually practicing fundamental principles until they become conditioned and automatic.

Senge makes the point that having Goals and Aspirations does not equate to having vision, and furthermore, few adults have any real vision.

So what is Vision?
Here's an example. You have a goal to achieve your MBA and start a new business. This however is a means to an end, not the end as such. Vision is applying focus on the result. Perhaps the feelings of accomplishment within your peer group, or the life balance choices that would emerge from being more autonomous, or the material benefits that would subsequently flow through.

So if a goal represents the vehicle or means to the end. To get a better job. Earn more money, buy a Porsche etc. The Vision is the ultimate destination. Financial independence, the respect of your peers, successfully raising a family,  essentially that which fulfills your sense of self worth.

Where does Purpose fit in to this equation?
  Purpose is more abstract. Vision is tangible, a destination, and quantifiable. Purpose encompasses the Why?  Fewer  people have a real conscious sense of purpose to their lives than have Vision. 

Look at your goals and ask Why? I want a better job. Why? so i can buy a sports car?  Why? So I can impress the 'chicks'. Why?  So I can feel like a winner. So that's the reason you want a better job!

Perhaps it would be more useful to examine what our Purpose in life is, and work back from that and clarify how that translates into a Vision, and then set goals in accordance with this clear vision.

Working 60 hours per week in a job you hate, in order to buy a flash car and live in a million dollar house, seems contradictory if your purpose is to have an awesome relationship with your family and to wake up every morning with adrenaline filled excitement for the day ahead.

If your goals are leading to stresssed out days and fractured relationships and poor health, then something is clearly out of kilter.

Identify your Purpose, build a Vision that's congruent with reaching that destination, and only then set your goals.

Just a thought. What do you reckon? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Hi Kiaran,

    wow, that's an awesome article and you added some nuggets to my existing mindset by discriminating between goal, vision and purpose.

    According to Robert Kiyosaki, one definition of intelligence is the ability to make finer distinctions. If that holds true, your post helped me to become more intelligent.

    And absolutely, there's no other way than planning from the purpose.

    Thanks for sharing.



  2. Hey Kiaran,

    Thanks for this inspiring post. Not many people have this burning desire within them. This resonated with me big time so thank you and thank you.

    Have a great weekend,
    Jerome Ratliff

  3. Once you have your destination, the roadmap to it should remain flexible.

    What if you encounter too much traffic or construction zone blocking your initial route? Your roadmap should be easily adjusted accordingly.

    So it is with goals. There is more than one way to peel an onion.


  4. Thanks Ana - not as many tears I hope as peeling those onions!

    Cheers Kiaran