Academy for Chief Executives Blog Rotating Header Image

Your Purpose – and Why It’s So Important to Regenerate it – by Paul Hunting

Is  your corporate purpose about learning?  If your answer is ‘no’, then it’s not your purpose.

Paul Hunting - Why talk to a Guru when you can whisper to a horse

Paul Hunting - Why talk to a Guru when you can whisper to a horse

One of the biggest problems for a leader is the notoriously confusing distinction between purpose and goals.

Those who do not get and keep this clear are inevitably going to be dragging their anchor – probably without realising it. What you will begin to notice though are the effects.

Your progress will be a lot slower than you saw in your vision of possibility – and the symptoms of stress and dissatisfaction will be leaking through the hull. These are the vast portfolio of trust and loyalty issues we know so well – from mutinous internal politics to good folk abandoning ship.

If not attended to, long periods in dry dock or a tragic sinking will show up. Life’s a bitch. It doesn’t care about our good intentions – only our clear ones.

Whether we’re the CEO or the cleaning lady, if we’re not on purpose we cannot feel satisfied. We always have that nagging feeling eating away at our guts. It seems life is set up that way. Pain is the price we pay for resisting our purpose. Pain (or stress) is thus our inner coach, guide and friend. It is our inner success mechanism giving us feedback called – get back on track – or else!

But we humans are notoriously stubborn and have the most amazing capacity for adapting to stress – until we keel over and wonder why.

Why? Not often a good question – but this time it could be. Why do we ignore our best inner advice and head instead for the rocks and certain catastrophe?

The two selves

Because we have two very different selves – the true self. And the false self pretending to be the true self.

The false self is motivated primarily by insecurity. It does not know the true self and cannot understand it. It is filled with a primal kind of fear and self-doubt. It wants us to make it feel secure by achieving things that prove it is OK. It therefore drives us into seeking symbols of success and love. It wants everything material or sensual in order to gain power and authority. It wants to be recognised. Made to feel important. It’s our ego.

The irony is – we are OK. We are important. The true self knows this. The ego cannot.  The ego drives us to focus on goals, achieve symbols of success and never really knows the experience.

Your mission statement

Does your mission statement say anything about learning how to generate unlimited joy and bliss? No. of course not. But these higher states are there for the picking if we have the courage – or even the desperation – to look.

So what is it to regenerate?

I love looking at the root meaning of words. It tells us how to navigate a true course for fulfilling our destiny. Looking within the word ‘regenerate’ we find the word ‘gene’. A gene is part of our DNA – the very building block of who we are. It’s also the root of the word ‘Genesis’ – the ancient story about how life began.

For many, it’s not cool to consider the Bible as a leadership text. I disagree. I think it’s not cool not to. Not from a religious perspective but from a symbolic one.

Genesis tells us a couple of interesting things. God made man in his own image. Do you think the image of God is the wrinkly old hairy thing staring at us in the mirror? Or could ‘image’ be a word that is a symbol for intention or purpose? I do. Man is here to fulfil a higher purpose. What could that be?

Well, at the risk of being uncool again, and while we’ve got Genesis open at page one, isn’t the first thing God uttered ‘Let there be light.’? Again, does that mean he reaches over and flips on the light switch for the universe? Or could ‘light’ be a symbol for awareness, knowledge, experience? What we mortals call ‘learning’? I do. We are here to have experiences – and learn from them. That’s all. That’s our purpose. Not that there’s anything wrong with having loads of money, it’s just that we’re not here to play ‘he who dies with the most money in the bank wins’!

The paradox is, when we follow our purpose like the North Star, then all the goals like money, stuff and symbols follow in our wake. If we focus on the money, power games and stuff, we can get so distracted we hit the coral reef lurking beneath. Because I say so? You gotta be kidding. Look around. Look at the Gulf of Mexico right now. Those guys at BP are (hopefully) learning a lesson and we’re paying the tuition fees – whether we like or not. I don’t. But hey – no man is an Island and all that.

Regenerate your purpose, then.

How to regenerate? Does this mean throwing everything away and starting again? No. What you have already built can either be your life boat or your yellow submarine full of holes. Regeneration is largely a matter of attitude and altitude. You need to sit down (or stand up) and talk with someone who is (a) outside the issues you are dealing with and totally detached from any outcome of yours and (b) as clear inside themselves about who they really are. Then have the courage to really look within and act on a  greater truth.

As we say in the coaching game, ‘If you don’t go within, then you have to go without’.

Paul Hunting is Managing Director of The Natural Leadership Centre Ltd and author of ‘Why talk to a guru? When you can whisper to a horse’.  For the past 25 years Paul’s focus has been to awaken clients to the true self within and to their higher purpose and potential. He is an author, speaker, facilitator, executive coach and originator of Horse Assisted Leadership. His work is always at the cutting edge – challenging our self-limiting paradigms.
As part of the Academy Community, professional speakers such as Paul provide excellent, practical and, in many cases, hard-hitting topics for Managing Directors and CEOs.  They know that by inspiring the leader of a business to change his or her thinking and to help them motivate themselves and their people for the future, they will develop and grow their companies.  For more information visit
© 2010, all rights reserved


  1. Keep up the good work, I like your writing.

  2. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post. Thanks!

Leave a Reply