Pillar1Act with Purpose – The First Principle of Purposeful Action

To achieve success and fulfillment, action must start with vision. The purpose of the action must reach beyond success – to fulfillment of vision. And, the vision should include helping others – beyond just doing no harm.

In the metaphor of the Brook, The First Principle is represented by the boat of the navigator.


As you can see, action cannot move ahead with just the boat. That is to say, action requires the other three Principles of Purposeful Action. The sketch of the Second Principle will add the oars for balancing the boat. The sketch of the Third Principle will add the reflection of the navigator, and the currents in the waters, representing the desires that motivate action. Finally, the sketch of the Fourth Principle will add other navigators, emphasizing the need to relate with our environment and with other travelers.

Framework for Purposeful Action

The Framework for Purposeful Action provides a systematic way for applying purposeful action in all aspects of your life. The Framework also guides you in making the right ethical choices

The Framework dissects action into twelve parts organized into three phases. It begins with a Vision derived from Introspection–that drives the purpose for the action. It ends with accountability and the equitable sharing of the fruits of the action.

Phase 1: defining the purpose of action and committing to it – Steps 1 to 3
Phase 2: planning and performing the action – Steps 4 – 9
Phase 3: assessing and renewing the action, with equitable rewards – Steps 10 to 12

We might not be consciously aware of each of the 12 steps in these three phases, but they are inherently present in every action.

Phase 1: Forming the Mission by Defining the Purpose for the Action and Committing

There are three steps in Phase 1. These steps, and in particular Step 1, are covered only implicitly in leadership books and seminars. Unfortunately, they are not explicitly taught in most business schools.

Step 1: Introspection – The inner search of for a vision

Before making a commitment to act, and before starting any action, it is important to understand and determine the purpose for the action. It is essential for the leader or leaders of an organization to know and understand the organization’s purpose. Purpose should be derived from vision — the desired state resulting from the action. Purposeful Leaders look within for the purpose of action and form a mental image of the desired state.

purposefulAction_clip_image002Watch video: What do you really want?

Step 2: Extrospection – Perform a Reality Check

Perform a reality check to formulate a vision consistent with external realities. Before you start your action, or start to get to where you want to go, you should know exactly where you are and what factors might influence your journey. In other words, you need to perform a reality check, or a feasibility check. In business this is sometimes referred to as SWAT, an acronym for: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Sometimes a reality check is called a gap analysis, where the objective is to find a product or service that is missing in the marketplace, and thus provides an opportunity to fill the perceived need – at a profit. Numerous factors are involved in conducting a reality check that might at first appear to be unrelated to the action or decision at hand. These include environmental and legal consideration and, in many cases, even global events.

Step 3: Define your Mission – Commit to the Objective

Your mission defines the purpose for your action. For an organization, the mission is provided by the leader or leaders — the CEO or the Chairman of the Board of Directors. If the reality check shows that you have a reasonable chance of getting to where you want to go and you have what it takes – you will have your mission. Now you are ready to make a commitment to the mission of achieving your vision. At this point the purpose of your action has been determined and you are ready to embark on your journey.

It takes courage to progress from Phase 1 to Phase 2

Phase 2: Forming the Plan and Performing the Action

There are six steps in Phase 2. The six steps in this phase comprise essentially what is taught in business schools.

Step 4: Setting a Goal – Define the milestones on the way to completing your the mission

Goals provide clear and measurable milestones for the journey to the vision. Goals can be measured and quantifiable. Being able to accomplish numerous small goals keeps your team motivated so they will be more eager to work on the mission.

Step 5: Defining the Strategy – Determine most effective way to get to the goal.

Forming a strategy requires you to find the most effective way to get to your next goal; it determines the path that you will take. Whereas goals set the direction and point the direction of your mission, strategy determines the path you take.

Step 6: Developing the Plan – Define the actions needed, with how, when who, what, where.

The plan determines what needs to be done. The size, depth and amount of detail in the plan depend on how specific you need it to be in order to implement the chosen strategy.

Step 7: Laying out the Organization – List the people, things and tasks needed to support and implement the plan.

Organization defines the form and structure of the team, including putting together levels of people and resources to implement the plan and make it real. The organization needs resources in order to “make a job well done”.

Step 8: Team-Building or Staffing – Recruit people and obtain resources, assigning responsibilities and authority according to the plan.

Staffing involves assigning roles, responsibilities and resources.The key factor in this step is selecting the right people for the right jobs.

Step 9: Guidance – Provide direction and guidance to the team as needed.

Guidance involves training, instruction and coordination within the context of the mission, goals and strategy.

After Step 9 you ‘let the arrow fly’ and ‘go with the flow’ until the arrow lands. Then you are ready for Phase 3. The call to go with the flow is an essential element in purposeful action – the interlude between Phases 2 and Phase 3.

Phase 3: Reviewing and Renewing the Action – Rewards & Reprimands

There are three steps in Phase 3. The three steps in this phase cover Continuing Quality Improvement, or Kaizen, after Juran and Deming.

Step 10: Assessment – Analyze and evaluate the results.

During sustained purposeful action, assessment is essential. This involves measuring and evaluating the results of the action.

Step 11: Renewal – Revise the plan as needed.

Renewal follows directly from the needs determined by the assessment. It is the time to fix actions that have gone awry and improve on actions that have been completed. This leads to continuous quality improvement, or Kaizen.

Step 12: Reinforcement – Recognize of performance, with appropriate corrections, reprimands or reprimands.

Reinforcement is the recognition and consequential rewards or reprimands that follow the completion of the action. In other words, the cycle of cause and effect is completed in this step.


You can learn more about the Twelve Steps for Purposeful Action in Prem Chopra’s latest book: Masters of the Game.

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