I asked on twitter “What is the purpose of knowing what the purpose is?”
and then I went and got some lunch…
Martyn Clark said: “Creating cool stuff. Oh. That’s mine. Hmm. The purpose of the purpose IS the purpose. By definition. Fractal.”
Nick Holder said: “In order to feel purposeful?”
Michael Lewkowitz said: “to simplify”
Hmmm, all fair enough, but I wasn’t thinking of it that way, I hadn’t made it clear that I was after understanding why other people are so interested in understanding why I do what I do (a recurring theme and irritation for me…)
so I replied: “I was wondering more about what other people’s purpose is in knowing my purpose (or vice versa)”
and Martyn came back: “In that case, the purpose of ME knowing YOUR purpose, is so I can see how MY purpose relates to YOURS. Is there an OUR purpose?”
Aha! Bombshell. Paradigm shift. I once was blind but now I see.
When someone asks “Why are you doing this? What’s the point? What’s the purpose of this, I don’t understand” I habitually become defensive. Especially so if I don’t know or understand either.
I’ve never seen that question as a possible opener to collaboration, a means of finding some common ground that might take both of us forward. I only ever see it as a way of closing me down, of pointing out that I’ve got it wrong – because under it all I believe that if I can’t articulate the purpose then I shouldn’t be doing it and that this question is a test to see whether I can articulate the purpose.
I feel a big weight being taken off me! That might be useful then…