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I was heading to Portland, OR for Hood to Coast, a 199-mile relay race, when I realized I was flying across the country to do two things that exhaust me – run and meet new people. In addition to running, I was joining 11 strangers for two days, spending many sweaty hours together in a van. 

I don’t always love running. I do it, and I love how I feel afterward, but quite often it takes some internal cajoling to get out the door.* 

Sometimes I feel the same way about being around people. Even though I work in public relations and I own a business, there are days when I really just want to be by myself. It’s not that I don’t love people. I do! But I’m an introvert and it takes a lot of energy for me to be social. 

So even though I knew the trip was going to challenge me both physically and emotionally, I had a feeling my teammates and I were all going to be fast friends since we shared a common purpose. Katherine Coble Hood To Coast

My teammates and I were all running for the same charity – Team World Vision. We were driven with a unified purpose: to put our love of running to work to raise money for and awareness of clean water projects in Africa. Our common purpose made it easy to fall into a pattern of friendship and teamwork that wouldn’t otherwise build so fast. 

Life at work, with our families and in our communities is a lot like this, too. When you know that you share a purpose and a driving mission, it’s typically easier to get along and make progress. But what if you aren’t sure you’re all working toward the same purpose? What if you don’t even know what your purpose is? 

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If that’s the way you feel, stop! You’ve got to take a timeout and make sure you know where you’re going – together as a team. Communication is key: 

  • Restate (or revamp) your common purpose for everyone on the team. As you walk up to the “starting line” of your next team meeting, say it out loud for everyone’s benefit. 
  • Check for agreement and commitment. Is everyone running on the same route? 
  • Keep reminding everyone why you’re doing what you’re doing, especially when the going gets tough. In a 199-mile relay race, this is the 2 a.m. “why am I doing this” moment that hit everyone in the van. 
  • Celebrate the win. There’s joy in accomplishment, but there’s also joy in the journey. Remember the incremental wins along the way. 

Shared purpose is engaging and creates energy. When you know that other people are passionate and working toward the same goal as you, it’s a lot easier to summon the energy needed to put in the work required. 

You don’t have to run a relay race with a bunch of strangers to see how important a shared purpose is. But you do have to take the time to ensure everyone is aligned, committed and moving in the same direction. When they are, you can accomplish anything. 

Looking for an agency that shares your purpose? Email me or call 317-631-6400. 

 *Ed. Note: Despite her reservations, Katherine has cajoled herself to complete races in 26 states, more than half way to her goal of completing a race in all 50. She is also the current president of the board for Beyond Monumental, the non-profit parent organization of the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.