Why purpose makes the critical difference in private practice during uncertain times.
I am in my office with the radiator going, with a scarf on and two jumpers and I wanted to speak in this video article about purpose, because some days like this when things seem very dark, and we’re two days before the general election here, and it’s a pretty dark time in our country, I would say.
The triad of purpose, meaning and motivation.
In private practice, it can feel hard sometimes to stay motivated and to find meaning. I wanted to share with you some of the things that I’ve learned over 17 years in private practice around the power of purpose. Although motivation, meaning and purpose goes together as a triad, the most important of the three is purpose.
Purpose needs a context.
A couple of stories to demonstrate how purpose, meaning and motivation has been important in my practice. When I was five, I remember telling my mother that when I grew up, I wanted to be a scientist. I remember her reaction. I was on the back seat of our car. In those days, the late 1970s cars, there were no car seats. So I stood there on the back seat and I remember her looking in the mirror and back at me, and I said, “When I grow up, I’m going to be a scientist.” She looked back at me and said, “Well, you just keep thinking that, dear.” Being five years old, I thought, “Okay, I will.” But it was a bit of a radical step at the time of radical idea perhaps in my family, because, at that time, we were sat in the car outside the battery factory where my dad worked, waiting for him to come out so that we could take him home. I think their five-year-old daughter telling them she was going to be a scientist when she grew up – there wasn’t a context for that, for that to be meaningful and purposeful. It didn’t really please my mother because it wouldn’t be a useful profession as far as she was concerned. Whilst, I had a five-year old’s resolve, there wasn’t purpose at that point and I didn’t see that modelled in my family.
This story gives us an idea that context is really important when it comes to purpose; purpose and context are interlinked.
I borrowed purpose from the company. Meh.
Later on, I finished my first degree and my master’s degree in psychology, and I was officially a scientist. I joined the Ministry of Defence to become a psychologist specialising in training and performance. The idea I had at that time was to join the MoD because it had a reputation as a place where it was really great for getting your Chartership because you had all kinds of work experiences that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. That opportunity had meaning and a kind of purpose to it, but it was an external purpose to reach an extrinsic target.
Then the as it happened, myself and my husband decided to have our family and the Civil Services then was a good place to work whilst I was raising a family because I didn’t have to go away for nights at a time as I might have done with a consulting job. So, it was purposeful in that sense, but again, it was kind of an extrinsic purpose. It was a good decision because of other things that were meaningful to me, such as being there for the children.
Whilst the work was also meaningful, and the work itself had a purpose to it, it was a purpose that I borrowed from the organisation. It was not the same as having my own deeply rooted purpose.
The connection between your ‘insides’ and something in the world is crucial to private practice.
Then I moved to France and I set up my private practice. What I realised looking back is that I didn’t have, at that point, a strong sense of intrinsic purpose that was deeply meaningful in terms of what I wanted to create out in the world, how I wanted the world to be. It’s this connection in between something inside of me resonating with something in the world that has become so important. This intrinsic purpose was something that developed over time for me. At the time, private practice was purposeful in terms of it enabling me to be there while the children were growing up and for us to live in a beautiful place but it wasn’t the same and it took me a while to understand and connect with that intrinsic purpose.
Once I was able to connect with that intrinsic purpose in my corporate practice, the deep why about my corporate practice, I experienced a real kind of burning, an intrinsic purpose for me that went far beyond motivation. I believe that moving people around the world and having this this ability to reach out across the world and to connect with people across borders, and to grow companies in that way, is something that is an incredible opportunity. I also believe it is really important in terms of being able to solve the problems that we see in the world and I want to enable and empower companies to do that better.
Similarly, when it comes to grow your psychology practice, I’m driven by the idea that there is so much need for psychology services, and the way in which we operate as a profession is not where we need to be to meet that need. Also, I am driven by the purpose of enabling and empowering psychologists in private practice to innovate and to collaborate in order to meet that great need.
Purpose is an anchor and a North Star during times of uncertainty.
The reason why I think that it’s super important and what I what I found, is this kind of intrinsic, deeper purpose has become an anchor for me, a North Star, a reference point on the horizon, even though other things are shifting. We’re two days before this election. We don’t know what’s going to happen in this country. We’ve gone from being relatively stable, to really not knowing what’s going to happen on a month later. That’s incredibly challenging in terms of just deciding what to do next. But when I have that intrinsic purpose, that North Star, that reference point, it actually makes things a lot more straightforward.
It means that even with all this chaos and instability and not knowing, we can refer to that point, that intrinsic point of purpose that North Star and say what is the next step that we want to take, what’s the next decision we need to make about this company? Does it move you in that direction or not? Does it help you on that? That becomes the way you can move forward.
Purpose is about more than just a statement on a website.
This is a way that you can move forward in your private practice without always being buffeted by some of the changes going on around us. Purpose is about more than just a statement on a website. Purpose helps us to stabilise in chaos and disruption. It can also be useful when we are disrupting ourselves because we’ve decided to move from stable employment into private practice. It’s a stabilising force.
Defining purpose also helps you to explain what you do to other people, and why you do it. That just makes it easier than when it comes to explaining this is what this company and this practice is here to do.
Purpose helps innovation and collaboration, which are critical for psychology.
Finally, what I think is really important is that purpose helps with innovation and collaboration. When it comes to meeting the need for Psychological Services, it’s really important that we start to think of new ways of doing that, because we can’t meet that need just through one on one services like coaching or therapy. We also need to be able to embrace things like technology. If we have purpose behind us, we can make decisions about technology and innovation because it gives us the direction of travel. We can also make decisions around who we should collaborate with because we can explain our purpose and they can explain theirs, and we can see whether there’s an alignment.
Purpose makes the critical difference in private practice.
If you’ve got any comments, don’t hesitate to come and see us on the Facebook group Creating Valuable Psychology Practices. But more’s the point, come and join us on the webinar this Thursday evening, where I walk you through how to Pivot Your Psychology Practice To Purpose. You can get a seat here: Pivot Your Psychology Practice to Purpose