Change Conflict Freedom Purpose

What the president of Ukraine is teaching us about purpose

Change comes from within, and a clear purpose helps to ignite that change. Purpose is often what drives us forward, even when things are most difficult in our lives or at work.

Personally, I find it hard to write about general business and leadership topics while the world is up in arms.

I’m doing a pretty good job of remaining focused on what I need to be focused on, while it’s clear that many others are continuously following the news and the latest developments.

I stay away from social media as much as I can during the day. It’s just not helping my work or my mental focus. And I put my phone away sometime between eight and nine pm every evening, only to pick it up in the morning after exercising and meditation.

I’m sure I’ll find out quickly if something were to happen. Anything else is a distraction.

It doesn’t mean I don’t care. I do, and I think you know this if you read my biweekly insights.

If we want to sustain this big, beautiful earth we share, we should stand up against those aiming to destroy this world and its people. And defend our beliefs and values.

There’s just one problem.

Values and beliefs differ.

When values and beliefs differ, there’s only one remedy that will ultimately prevail, and that’s having a strong purpose.

Change comes from within, and a clear purpose helps to ignite that change. Purpose is often what drives us forward, even when things are most difficult in our lives or at work.

Just ask the people of Ukraine, led by their leader Volodymyr Zelensky. Mr. Zelensky has become a cult figure within days of the Russian invasion.


Because he’s authentic, stands for something, demonstrates courage, speaks words that everyone can understand, he’s visible, and shows he’s one of them. He also speaks the truth in a world of fake news.

Would I blindly follow him?

That’s a tricky question to ask of someone who finds it hard to follow leaders anyway. Nobody is perfect, and Mr. Zelensky is doing everything to defend his country and get as many countries as possible on his side.

So, why is Mr. Zelensky such a vivid example now?

Obviously, because we’re dealing with the context of war. The contrast with his enemy is so significant that’s it’s hard not to feel sympathy for this charismatic leader.

But also, because we know that when he loses or even dies, the rest of Europe is in trouble.

His purpose is our purpose, and that is to protect our freedom. Fighting for freedom, literally or in a figurative way of speaking, will always be a good driver of purpose.

We hear reports about Russian soldiers not knowing why they’re even fighting in Ukraine. It may be fake news or propaganda, but frankly, I believe the messaging.

Because I’m sure that not a lot of time was spent explaining to the Russian troops why an invasion of Ukraine was necessary.

You’re a soldier, and you do your job, no questions asked. And definitely no ‘soft’ conversation about purpose. Doesn’t just happen in certain armies, many businesses are just the same.

Because talking about purpose and values is soft, right?

Last week, I again overheard someone referring to purpose and values as the soft stuff.

Let me ask you this about ‘soft’?

Is standing up for your country, willing to give your life for freedom, and offering your people something to believe in soft?

If you’re one of those who often talk about the soft stuff, the soft skills, the touchy-feely department, please stop.

Soft skills are the hard skills. Those who understand this quote, need no further explanation. Great leaders understand the importance of purpose and how it will help their cause.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a president running a country or running a business.

Your turn: What do you stand for?

Do more of what makes you happy!


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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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