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Five ways to discover your company's true purpose and values during COVID-19


The pandemic has provided us with a new image of who we are, what we stand for, and what we are capable of.  It is this new true reflection that should be the foundation of our purpose moving forward.

1st Sep 2020

As we go through COVID-19 it is easy to be swept by the pandemic and all its ecosystem of impact on your healthy, emotions, finances and more. While in many of these aspects you may feel helpless there is one aspect f the pandemic in which you are in control. No, it is not the response you choose. Although this is correct. I am referring to another choice.

If there is one thing I learned in life, it is that one can not speak about values until he actually went through a true test and let the value prevail over the temptation to behave in a way that is not consistent with that value. Many organisations and individuals run to declare values while failing to demonstrate how they actually live by them. That is why I always approached the Purpose movement with a healthy dosage of skepticism. While I believe in starting with the “Why,” I believe it not as a statement on the wall but as the actions of the soul. 

You start with “why” in the choices you make, not the declaration you utter.

Being purposeful is not the one-day workshop of self-reflection of what drives your actions and what impact do you want to make on the world. It is about the ACTUAL impact you make on the world and how you live by your purpose in everyday decisions.

Which brings me to the biggest opportunity during COVID-19. The opportunity is to test your value system. If you want to know what you and your organisation are really made of, it’s time to inspect your decisions and actions and determine what are your REAL values. Time to look in the mirror and ask yourself:

  • Did I really demonstrate courage?
  • What evidence do I have for my resilience?
  • How does creativity come to life during my current challenges?
  • Did I care for others while going through my own pains?
  • What other values do I declare to possess and how did they come to life during the last few months?

And the answer to all these questions is not a yes or no - it is stories. Write down specific examples that substantiate your claimed values.

Five steps to discovering your true purpose and values

Step 1: Document the story

Instead of writing down the answers to the above question, allow me to propose a different, more honest approach. Write down a journal of your last few months. List all the meaningful moments you have experienced. List them all - small and big moments. Don’t forget your down and depressing moments. What did you do during those moments? Who was around you? How did you relate to those people?

Step 2: Colour your actions

Then after documenting your COVID-19 experience, go back to the list and identify what values drove your decisions, behaviours and actions. Use a simple way to start deciphering your COVID-19 story:

  • Mark in red all moments in which you were taking from others.
  • Mark in blue all moments in which you were giving to others.
  • What does the story look like now - is it mostly red or blue?

Step 3: Catalogue your actions

Create a list of your values, and/or your organisation's values. Number each one of them. For example:

  1. Courage
  2. Creativity
  3. Empathy
  4. Resilience
  5. Self-sufficiency

Now write down a number representing a value next to each action. For example, if your organisation safely and successfully responded to the lockdown by transitioning your staff to remote working, it may count as "resilience" and should be marked a +5.  If a certain action represents the opposite of your value, give it a negative mark.   

Now the picture is starting to add up. 

  • How do you like the picture?
  • What does it tell you about yourself and/or your organisation?
  • How do you like the person/organisation you see through the values reflected?

Step 4: Analyse the full picture

At this step, take a look at your successes (the pluses) and the failures (the minuses) and reflect on the root causes. 

  • Why did you behave in a certain way in those moments?
  • What gave you the strength to rise up in the plus moments?
  • Why did you fail to rise up in the minus moments?

Don’t just focus on the minus moments. There is plenty to learn from the plus moments. In fact, the plus moments are probably more reflective of who you truly are than the minus moments.

Are there actions that represent new values you didn’t originally consider? Do you wish to include them?

This exercise is about self-discovery. True values come to life only under test. And I think we can agree, COVID-19 is a form of a test. COVID-19 presents us with that opportunity to rediscover ourselves.

Step 5: Reaffirm your plan

One of the conclusions from Step 4 might be that some of your stated values, are not really reflective of who you are. Facing a challenge, they didn’t stand the test of real life.

Through your newly documented COVID-19 narrative you can actually develop a true set of values. Those values are most likely to be a true reflection of you and combined with the new stories of success (the plus moments), you will be able to recharge yourself and be ready to live a more purposeful life moving forward.

Live the true purpose

While the pandemic is challenging us all as a world, nation, community and individuals on so many levels, it also is bringing the best (and sometimes the worst) in us. It tests us to limits we didn’t know we could stand up to. And in doing so, it has provided us with a new image of who we are, what we stand for, and what we are capable of.  It is this new true reflection that should be the foundation of our purpose moving forward.

Let us not miss the biggest opportunity to find out who we are as a result of the unprecedented phenomena we are all living through. This is the ultimate choice we have. To live our true self through values tested in real life.


Lior Arussy is an author and expert on strategy execution and transformation. His latest book is Next is Now (2018) follow @LiorStrativity


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