Tim Kelley: the meaning of the purpose


I am grateful and happy to bring you this exceptional episode of my podcast devoted specifically to the topic of purpose. My guest in this episode is Tim Kelley, the author of a book “True Purpose” and a renowned authority on helping people, teams and organizations to find their purpose. He consults and helps profit-based companies to transform into profitable purpose-based ones. We met with Tim at the Holacracy Forum and I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to chat with him about his journey, his passion for the purpose work and also why it is crucial to raise the awareness of and stay aligned with your purpose. I had a blast! Hope you will love it as well!

“Obviously purpose is a common term, but I think it can be understood very differently. Yes, people talk about it in many different ways and many of the people who talk about it and write about it never actually bother to define it, which I consider to be a failing. Here probably shines through my background as a theoretical mathematician. Theoretical mathematicians are very, very precise about defining everything before they start to work. Now, it was shocking to me to see how some authors would have an entire system built around a word and say basically nothing about what the term really meant. They would say purpose is this great thing, purpose is your passion, purpose fulfills you, etc. Or that purpose is what gets you up in the morning! Oh, you mean my alarm clock? But that’s not a definition, that’s not a purpose. Now, in fairness, creating a really good definition is hard. It’s very hard. But if this is your life’s work, you might try give it a shot. The definition I use is that purpose is the answer to the question ‘why’? If I ask you a why question and you actually answer it, then the answer is a purpose. This is my definition and the thing I like about it is that it’s super simple. And it doesn’t distinguish good purposes from bad purposes or any of that. If you ask me, Tim, what is the purpose of your life? That’s the question and the answer to that is my purpose. If you ask why does a particular organization exist, then the answer to that is their purpose.”– Tim Kelley

Listen and enjoy!


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