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Reconnecting with our purpose and passions...

Public serving organisations and the many passionate and able people working in them can easily lose sight of what matters to their service users as they become focused on activity rather than impact, chasing targets and ticking boxes. They become detached from their purpose as summit fever, management by the numbers, and reputational management prevail. In these conditions, wilful blindness becomes a logical and sometimes necessary personal and organisational coping mechanism.

Many people in public services feel increasingly detached from what they thought was the original purpose of their work. Demoralised and desensitized, the constraining processes they work within strip them of the capacity to display empathy and compassion to those they work with and those they want to help.

Public servants have become servants to processes, as policy-makers and regulators attempt to measure and monitor everything and unwittingly detach services from the original purposes they were created to meet; to protect, to care for, to help, and to serve. Good, capable, well-intentioned people find themselves trapped in poor systems that force them to make questionable choices, without knowledge, or the time to fully understand the impact of their actions. Actions that can often cause harm and worse.

Large organisations, especially public service institutions can quickly become like living organisms, self-perpetuating entities which appear to act in their own best interests, chasing their targets while missing the point of their existence. They can at times seem like monsters that killed their makers, beasts created by us with good intent, a clear and sometimes even noble purpose, which then ignore and harm us as they morph into self-serving creatures. We create them to serve our needs and we end up serving theirs. 

But things don't have to remain this way. The Japanese art of Ikigai suggests that the sweet spot of each of our existences is located at the intersection of what we are good at, what we love, the purpose and passions we have, and importantly what the world needs, and on a very practical note, what we can be rewarded, paid for. It is a concept I think many of us can identify with and an incredibly helpful tool to use in re-aligning ourselves and our organisations, with our purpose and passions.