Episode 2 13 May 2021
Establishing values, finding purpose
Principal lawyer, Geraldine Grace | Host, New Earth lawyer podcast
In this mini-episode, I talk about how to establish your personal values and find your personal purpose, mission and vision. I give you practical tools to help you do this and real-life examples from my own experience. Setting your values and your purpose will help you be more aligned and integrated in life, so you are really bringing your whole self to everything that you do, both personally and professionally.
I am an experienced corporate lawyer, using the law to build purposeful, human-centred, Earth-friendly legal enterprises & ecosystems, for happier humans and a better planet.
I am also the founder and host of the New Earth lawyer podcast.
I am based in Melbourne, Australia, and an expert in enterprise governance, purpose, business & human rights and modern slavery. I established my own law practice Geraldine Grace in 2020, focussing on enterprises seeking purpose, and actors in the impact economy.
I am a legal advisor to a number of not-for-profits with a national reach in impact and purpose. I work with Boards to optimise performance and help enterprises embed purpose and integrate human rights into their business.
I have over 20 years' experience practising law in Australia, the UK, Hong Kong and mainland China. I have worked for large global and Australian law firms and was a partner of a top-tier Australian law firm for several years.
I sit on the peak governing body of Australia's largest university.
[02:35] Finding purpose is a process. Be grateful for where you are. Feelings of chaos or discomfort are there there to prompt you to examine your life more closely. Do not expect instant gratification.
[04:03] I suggest starting the process with establishing your values. With a list of values that you can find on the Internet, you can systematically determine yours.
[6:30] Knowing my values allows me to live an aligned, integrated life and to guide the way I live.
[8:43] I offer an idea on how to find your personal purpose, one that worked for me. Your purpose connects with your passion, so determine what you are passionate about.
[11:51] Separate from personal purpose is your mission - the 'how' as opposed to your 'why'.
[13:05] Once you know your purpose and mission, you can set out your personal vision.
[14:29] Finally make sure to enjoy the journey towards determining your values, purpose, mission and vision. This is about finding your true self and is the most important work you will do in this lifetime.
Flow: Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's 2004 Ted talk about how we can find pleasure and lasting satisfaction when we are in flow.
Joseph Campbell, mythologist, writer and lecturer, originator of the expression, 'Follow your bliss.'
Quote about the two most important days of your life, often misattributed to Mark Twain.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the New Earth lawyer, a podcast that features lawyers who are changing the practice of law to change the world. My name is Geraldine Johns-Putra. and I'm a lawyer based in Melbourne, Australia, I run my own law practice known as Geraldine Grace. This is episode number two of my podcast. And it's just going to be me speaking for a few minutes about something that's very dear to my heart.
This is establishing your values, and finding your personal purpose, mission and vision. If you listened to or you watched the previous episode with my guest, J Kim Wright, you may remember we talked about these things. Kim helped me discover my values, purpose, mission, and vision in 2018.
I thought it might be helpful for me to relate how the process worked for me. Because in the three years since, I have walked a remarkable road and I've gone from trying to figure out what to do with my life, my career, and my legal practice, to living and breathing purpose every day. I call it being in alignment, which means my higher purpose is in alignment with my day to day life, my mind, heart, soul, body are all pointed in the same direction, and are working towards the same goal. There is a supreme inner peace and a joy that comes with that. And it's worth more than any of the benchmarks of external or material success that I once set for myself. Not to mention, I now have a boundless enthusiasm and energy for my work.
One thing I want to say right off, is that establishing your purpose is a process. If you are lamenting that you don't seem to have a purpose, or you're feeling internal conflict, stress, or chaos, it can be hard to appreciate that it is all part of the journey. You have to be able to realise that something isn't right in your life, before you can address it. So the feelings of chaos or discomfort, they are there for a reason. They are there to prompt you to examine what you're doing with your life more closely. And if you are feeling entirely happy with where you are, then the exercises that I suggest in this episode may still be helpful for you to decide if you are exactly on the right path or if there are things you might wish to change around the edges.
Finding purpose isn't one of those instant gratification things. This is where the platitudes about gratitude, come in. Practise being grateful for where you are now, and the process of finding your purpose will be a whole lot easier.
Right, so where do you start? For me, it started with values. I needed to establish my own values. Because one needs to know who one is and what's important to one. It's as simple as that. You can find on the Internet, handy lists of personal values, and you can download such a list and you can start assessing your values in a systematic way. If you are a lawyer, this would probably be quite easy and fun for you. It helps to put aside a bit of quiet time so you can reflect on your life path so far, the key decisions you've made, why you've made them, the things that you do in your life professionally, personally an hobbies, your relationships with people around you, and what about those things and those relationships are important to you. Then go through the list of values.
You can grade the values on a scale of say, 1 to 5. And then at the end of the exercise, identify the ones that you graded most highly, the ones that resonated with you. It's also worth looking at the ones that you didn't rate so highly, because those ones will tell you something about values that you don't align with. And they can inform whether you're in, say, the wrong job, or you have people in your life, whether personal or professional, who don't share your values.
So I did something like that. I went through the exercise and, at the end of it, when I grouped my values together, I ended up with 6 themes. In 3 years, these have not changed. And personal values often don't. They can, but they will usually change because of inner work that a person does on themselves, or as a result of a personal crisis or an epiphany that can lead a person to re-evaluate their lives.
My 6 personal values are independence, personal growth, integrity, courage, peaceful order, and the sacredness of the body. Knowing my values allows me to conduct myself and to make decisions that align with them, which leaves me more contented and feeling more whole. For example, the fact that I value peaceful order says to me that I am in the right profession as a lawyer. My appreciation for personal growth means that I consciously make time to work on myself, and I don't compromise on that. Since integrity is a value of mine, I want to work with people and organisations who demonstrate that too. My independent streak means I thrive in smaller teams. And I make sure to have a balanced schedule, which allows me to look after my physical health, because a healthy, happy body is important to me.
So having done the values work, you can then start on personal purpose. I'll tell you what my personal purpose is a little bit later. But what I will say is my purpose coincides with my values. And it also draws on the skills that I have learned and honed over the years. Now this second thing about purpose reflecting the skillset you already have, now that isn't a prerequisite for everyone's purpose. Your purpose might involve you needing to reskill, in which case, don't be afraid to do that. My purpose draws on my legal experience, but even then, I still had and I have many new areas to learn. And it's exciting to go out and learn those skills because I know I'm doing that in pursuit of my purpose.
Okay, so how do you find your purpose? Purpose grows out of passion. Think about what you're passionate about. It will be unique to you. They are the things that you can spend hours on and not even notice the time passing. When you do them, you are in a state of what we call 'flow'. And these things energise you rather than exhaust you. In the words of Joseph Campbell, it's about following your bliss, because that's the word for it. What are the things that make you blissfully happy?
When I realised the vital connection between passion and purpose, I began to think about the things that I loved learning about. I am a reader. I love reading. Over the years, I have read hundreds of books, mainly nonfiction ones. But to find my passions, I had to think about the ones that stayed with me. I made a list of my favourite books and themes again began to emerge.
There were many books in my list about the deeper meaning of life, books about consciousness, the nature of reality, transcendental experiences, and many, many more along that line. Those books told me that I needed a purpose that engaged me at a spiritual and not just a materialistic level. But there were also lots of books on my list about alternative ideas and ways of doing things in society, alternative monetary and economic systems, alternative institutions, alternative dietary and health approaches. Those books told me that I wanted to seek an alternative to the structures I was working within. Now, mind you, the books that I read are not necessarily going to be the same books that will work for you. It's not about going out and reading the same books that I or someone else has read.
It's about looking at the books or the things that you love. Sometimes I get asked to recommend books I have read that helped me identify my purpose. And I always politely refuse to share my list. Not because it's a big secret, but because I feel everyone is unique. And so everyone's purpose is unique. And each person needs to do that work for themselves.
Out of that work, was born my purpose, which is to create better enterprises and legal systems, enterprises that aren't just about making profit, and legal systems that will enable this.
Separate from my purpose is my mission. Now, what is a mission? If purpose is your why, then mission is your how. So I had established my why, and the question became how I would achieve it. And I knew I would use the law to guide my how, because I knew by then, that I love being a lawyer. In embarking on my mission, I decided to seek out organisations that were on the same path that I wanted to go down, which is how I came to be a legal adviser to not-for-profits in the impact investing space, and purpose-led businesses. I reached out to people, I talked to them, I built networks, and I soaked up the new knowledge. When I met people in the area, they saw my enthusiasm, and they would introduce me to more people. And with every meeting, and every introduction, and every conversation, my path grew.
Now separate from both purpose and mission is the concept of vision. My vision is very simple. When we have better, more purposeful businesses becoming the norm in our society, we will have a happier world. And I hold that vision in my mind's eye, because that is what I'm working towards.
If you go to my law practice website, you will see all of these things that I'm talking about - my purpose, my mission and my vision - reflected in it. That is my work today.
And so that is the story of how I established my values and I found my purpose, mission and vision. It was not an overnight process. The seeds of it probably started a long time ago, maybe 12 or 15 years ago. But the part where I seriously began searching for purpose, until today, that's about 3 years, as I said. So if you want to find your purpose, please don't get frustrated if it doesn't happen quickly.
Take your time. This is a journey. Honour and be grateful for where you are, and be courageous in taking the first step. Congratulate yourself on every step that you take. Realise that you are unique and do not search for answers in other people's journeys. Your authentic self, the one who is intended to live a life aligned to your unique higher purpose is inside you. Nowhere else.
It is said that the two most important days in a person's life are the day they are born and the day they find out why. This journey is about preparing for that second important day. It's an unfoldment. It's about meeting that person inside you, and getting to know the true you. There is no greater thing that you can do in this lifetime.
In a future episode, we can talk about how to go about changing your environment, if you find yourself in one that does not align with your values. That's going to be about how to effect personal change in a way that respects your journey and those of others around you.
For now, thank you for listening. If you liked the content of my podcast, please consider subscribing to one of the podcast feeds on the New Earth lawyer website or subscribe to the New Earth lawyer YouTube channel. Check out the social media sites for New Earth lawyer on Facebook and Instagram and please follow them.
In the meantime, have a wonderful day and trust that everything will work out perfectly. Thank you.