How do you help your mentees develop a sense of purpose in their careers?

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Senior Vice President - Advanced Engineering & Data Analytics in Manufacturing, 10,001+ employees
I look to Ikigai, because a sense of purpose is the true definition of it. But when I talk to my juniors I don’t typically stay within the principles of Ikigai. I define three overlapping circles. In the first circle I ask them to identify what they’re good at. There are a lot of people of all ages who are not able to identify their strengths. The second circle is what you want to do. What you are good at and what you want to do are two different things, but they can overlap in certain cases. A lot of people think that if they’re good at something, they will love doing it. But we often discover that our interests are in some other area. The magic happens when both of them intersect. 

The third circle is very interesting, because it’s what the world wants. I have a daughter who's now working in financial services. When she was picking her major in college, I told her to make sure it was something she wanted to do, something she was good at, and also something that would allow her to flourish in her career. She was good at language arts, analytics, mathematics and statistics, so she picked up finance and accounting because that’s what the world wants.

As another example, one of the reasons I went from telecom to healthcare was that I wanted to contribute to a social cause. In one program where I built the largest private cloud, it was very close to my Ikigai because the program helped that specific health insurance company adhere to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In terms of enrollment timelines and its societal impact, it helped a lot of uninsured people get health insurance. I could connect with that cause of helping people get their health benefits, which will help them access the medical procedures, facilities and care they need. Whatever program or project you are doing, regardless of the industry, you need to associate it with a cause that is very close to you. If you're working on an artificial intelligence program for a smart hub, then how can you make life simpler for people through that work?
Director of Information Technology in Education, 201 - 500 employees
In one word - clarity.

One of the things that derails an enthusiastic, passionate up and coming individual is confusion.  What you can provide them, as a mentor, are the tools that they need to create clarity - and this can be different for different people.  But the idea is to take what they set as their life "rules of engagement" - i.e. I had a general once tell me my priorities should be "My god, my family, my job, and everything else".  That was his litmus test for facing the world.

I work in the educational arena (public K12 District, IT Director), and my clarity question is simple - "How is this decision in the best interest of our students?"  If I can't answer this question then I don't move on to the next ones - is it compatible, cost effective, etc.

So, I teach those that I am mentor to create a clarification question - something that can be used to filter out the fluff.  

As they mature, grow in their career, change jobs, that question should/could change - but it still has to cut through and expose what matters.  This also ties into identifying the goal - what are you trying to accomplish.  There is a concept in education - "design with the end in mind".  

What I think they really need to understand, is that the only constant in life is change.  If they can't change - adapt, grow, mature and learn - they will become frustrated, and their sense of purpose may die as they become frustrated.

While I don't necessarily believe that I should help someone develop a sense of purpose (since much of that does come from outside the work environment), I can (and should) help them understand how that sense of purpose can be realized at work, through work, and encouraged and strengthened.

Just my two cents.
CIO & CEO in Services (non-Government), 11 - 50 employees
Everyone has their own set of priorities, aspirations and passions in life. Leaders need to understand this and focus on their strength, especially passion, and create targeted space for growth for each individual. For example, not everyone is motivated by monetary or material rewards.

Once you understand the strengths and needs of an individual, you can structure growth opportunities based on this. For example, for young, ambitious employees who are hungry for financial and career growth, the reward of increased salary is a never ending game. It would be strategic to create space for growth that helps them develop their passion. This not only motivates the employee to work hard, but the job becomes more meaningful to them as per the saying “if one’s job is his or her hobby or passion, he or she is the happiest person on earth” -- turning "job" to "jobby".
CIO in Healthcare and Biotech, 201 - 500 employees
I always focus on what is important to them and build on this. You cannot drive motivation into someone but you can build what is important to them and find alignment. 

For example, if they have a very strong sense of helping others then focusing on careers or pathways that aligns with this purpose is important. This can be companies that have these values or that are in industries that have a vision that is aligned to this such as not for profits.

As a mentor, your goal is to listen and understand the mentee's passions and help them along the way.

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