Purpose Pitfalls #50 #cong22


Some things I try to keep in mind while working with a purpose.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Don’t get obsessed, keep space for other things in life
  2. Thing about the complex contexts we all operate in
  3. Try to find a group that shares your purpose
  4. It won’t be smooth sailing.

About Clare Dillon:

Clare Dillon has spent over 20 years working with developers and developer communities. Clare has been involved with InnerSource Commons since early 2019, and became Executive Director last year. InnerSource Commons focuses on creating a sharing resources to help developers do open collaboration inside their companies. Clare also works with OSPO++ to support the establishment of University and Government Open Source Program Offices and OSPOs++ globally, that can collaborate to implement public policy and trustworthy public services. Last year she co-founded Open Ireland Network to bring together people interested in advancing open source in Ireland.

Contacting Clare Dillon:

You can connect with Clare in LinkedIn.


By Clare Dillon

So this year’s theme is about purpose. And yes, I absolutely agree that having a purpose is vital to happiness, health and vitality in life.

Since I started working with many volunteer communities in the open source ecosystem, I have had the pleasure of working with more purpose-ful people than ever before. Indeed, I have also had the pleasure of meeting so many people over the years at Congregation who inspire me with the purpose and meaning they have found in life. So, when I sat down to write this, I didn’t know what more I could add to why finding your purpose is worthwhile and valuable.

Instead, I started thinking about a few of the things I have tried to keep in my own mind as I found myself working with a purpose…

The Dangers of a Sole Purpose

We all know people whose sole purpose in life is to [insert meaningful purpose here]. Their efforts are worthy and worthwhile, and the world is hopefully a better place for their effort and focus. But sometimes, having a sole purpose can distract you from the other pleasures in life. And there are so many. Little bursts of joy and surprise that you can only find in aimless wanderings and exploring. I often find myself overwhelmed by how much there is to do, so it takes extra effort to keep space for the unexpected and unintentional.

Complex Contexts

Pure passion about a topic can sometimes be like a shining spotlight, putting things in high relief, making things seem black and white. But we’re usually all actually muddling around in the grey, without seeing many of the forces at play in any given situation. I’ve learned that no matter how clear your purpose burns within you – it is always worthwhile assuming things are not black and white and closely examining the context you and others are operating in. Listen to people who may seem set against your purpose, who may give different perspective. Understanding more and assuming less always helps.

Shared Purposes Are the Best

Nothing better than working in a team with a shared purpose! I don’t know how folks do it on their own. Collaboration helps gets things done – and it helps to have a shoulder to cry on when things don’t go well.

Speaking of which…

Lose the Battle, Win the War

It can be devasting to “lose” when you are purpose-led. The feelings of disappointment and failure when something goes wrong can be more devastating than when it’s just “the day job”. And not all battles can be won. So the final thought is – it’s ok to lose the battle, but we must all keep the hope alive that we will win the war.

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