Our very own Patrice Tanaka was the keynote speaker at last Friday’s Washington Women in PR “Washington PR Woman of the Year” Award Luncheon in DC, honoring outstanding women in our profession. Her keynote — not surprising for a purpose-driven PadillaCRT employee-owner and a leader whose personal brand platform is based on JOY – was on “Live Your Life’s Purpose and Unleash Your Joy!” According to Tanaka, “Many of us can more easily cite our organization’s “purpose” than we can articulate our own individual “life’s purpose.” She said despite growing evidence that “purpose-driven” companies outperform the S&P significantly – 1025 percent growth over a 10-year period vs. 122 percent for all S&P companies (Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose ), fewer than 20 percent of leaders can distill their own individual life purpose into a concrete statement, according to the authors of “From Purpose to Impact” in the May 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review. The authors go on to state, “…we believe that the process of articulating your purpose and finding the courage to live it—what we call purpose to impact—is the single most important developmental task you can undertake as a leader.” Tanaka said she knew this to be true from first-hand experience and went on to share her story.
Why it’s important to find your purpose
According to Tanaka, “When you know your life’s purpose, it is energizing! You can more quickly identify and choose those ‘actions’ that support your purpose and bypass those that do not. And, when you are living your purpose, you are at your most ‘confident’ and ‘powerful.’” She said that, “Exhibiting leadership comes more naturally and easily because you know what you want, you know what you’re willing to fight for, and when you fight for something you know what you stand for, and so do others.”
Tanaka said, “Identifying and being able to articulate my “life’s purpose” helped me to take action to begin living that purpose.” She went on to say that she had been asked to “rethink” her purpose in life by an executive coach she sought for help from 12 years ago – five months after 9/11. At that time, she said, she was “depressed and in a malaise thinking about the nearly 3,000 people who died in the Twin Towers that day, wondering if they were ‘good to go’ having done everything they most wanted to do in life.” She feared that many of them were not. This informed her life’s purpose, as she articulated to her executive coach at their next session: “To choose joy in my life every day; to be mindful of that joy, and to share that joy with others.” This led Tanaka to remember a long-forgotten childhood dream “to dance like Ginger Rogers.” At the urging of her coach, she took up ballroom dancing and “joy began flooding back into her life,” she said.
Tanaka said, “This total “transformation” in both my personal and professional life was so surprising I felt compelled to write a book entitled, Becoming Ginger Roger…How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner and Smarter CEO. I wrote “Becoming Ginger Rogers” to share with others how identifying and living your life’s purpose can totally transform your life and take you places you never imagined and never dreamed possible.”
Unleashing joy in your life
Lessons that Tanaka learned from ballroom dancing made her happier than she’d ever been, it transformed her from “Ayatollah Tanaka,” what one colleague dubbed her, to “SambaGrl,” who she said was a much nicer person and a better colleague and business partner. Tanaka said ballroom dancing taught her many business and life lessons, including the value of “close partnering” to help build and grow her now agency, PadillaCRT, where, she said, I am “close partnering” with 200 other amazing employee-owners.
Drawn from her successful career and bountiful personal relationships, here are some additional insightful lessons gleaned from Tanaka’s WWPR “Washington PR Woman of the Year” keynote:
- Being fully present in mind, body and spirit, whether with a colleague or loved one, results in better communication, better connection and better partnering on- and off the dance floor.
- Perfectionism is overrated and inhibiting to growth and innovation. Focus, instead, on doing a task full-out and fearlessly rather than worrying about doing it perfectly. The act of creation is often messy, it’s not going to be perfect right out of the gate. You can make refinements going forward.
- Practice failing, in order to succeed more quickly. Learn what you can from each failure and apply it going forward to help you succeed.
- Close partnering is key to success on- and off the dance floor. Being a strong and active follower – as women are in ballroom dancing – is as important a role as being the leader. Both are critical to the success of any team endeavor on- or off the dance floor.
- Visualizing your dreams is the first step in manifesting them.
- Live life full-out and fearlessly.
- “Pursue your joy, with a sense of urgency because when it’s our time, we want to be ‘good to go,’ having done everything we most wanted to do and knowing that we lived and loved full-out and fearlessly.
Attendees learned that identifying your purpose in life is the way to unleash the joy within each of us.
Have you identified your purpose life? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below. If you have not yet found it, we urge you to think about what your eight-year old self most loved to do, assess your passions, talents, experience, values and the unique way you want to contribute to the world and these musings will help you discover your life’s purpose.
Here’s to PURPOSE!
Patrice Tanaka is a serial entrepreneur, helping co-found her third PR & marketing agency, PadillaCRT, last September to create the “largest, employee-owned PR agency” and the “15th largest, independent PR agency” in the U.S. She has been honored by many PR & marketing organizations and devotes much of her free time to serving on boards of non-profit organizations dedicated to helping women and children. Patrice is also author of, Becoming Ginger Rogers…How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, a Better Partner and a Smarter CEO.