Creating A Purpose-Driven Life by Gaining Clarity On Your Values With Steven Urban

clarity consulting intuition purpose-driven life values May 07, 2024
With Clarity & Purpose | With Clarity & Purpose | With Clarity & Purpose

Unlocking the true essence of a purpose-driven life begins with the illuminating journey of gaining clarity on your values. In this episode, Yanet Borrego embarks on a journey of self-discovery and purpose with Steven Urban of Build Your Alliance as he shares insights on crafting a purpose-driven life. From his background in business consulting to pivotal moments of self-realization, Steven illuminates the path towards aligning values with actions and navigating life's challenges authentically. Join us as we explore the transformative power of recognizing and honoring personal values, utilizing intrinsic motivators for decision-making, and cultivating resilience in the pursuit of a fulfilling existence.


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Creating A Purpose-Driven Life by Gaining Clarity On Your Values With Steven Urban

I am beyond excited because I have a very special guest to speak about one of my favorite topics, creating a purpose-driven life by gaining clarity on your values. This guest is Steven Urban. We met in my last corporate job when I was working as a consulting manager. He was one of the leaders that I interacted with. Something that impressed me about him was his dedication to his people. He is dedicated to developing people and being there as an amazing leader.

Steven spent over twenty years in the stressful business consulting world, leading large, complex transformation teams at some of the world's biggest companies. He has a very impressive background. During this time, he discovered that his favorite part of the job was helping people overcome their lack of confidence, find their voices, and excel in their careers.

Steven has since left the consulting world and is concentrating his energy on empowering people to name and define their values and life purpose so they can better articulate who they are and then advocate for themselves in all situations. How are you doing, Steven? I'm so excited to be here with you.

Thank you. I'm excited to be here, too and it's so good to see you and we've connected again outside of this corporate connection that we have. Both of us are leaning into not only a passion but a life purpose within us to do something so important that people need, build this connection, and help others. The fact that I get to do this now through my company, Build Your Alliance, on a daily basis is something that I feel very fortunate and lucky to be able to do.

Getting To Know Steven

I love it. You shared part of your story and we had so many commonalities, but I cannot wait until our readers dig into your story because it's such a beautiful and empowering story full of alignment and connection. My first question for you is, first of all, I always ask all of my guests where they are originally from. Where are they located? Tell us a little bit about yourself before we dig into the topic.

I grew up in a really small town in Central Texas between Austin and Houston, La Grange. I had 120 people in my graduating class, and I knew that I wanted to broaden my horizons and go to a university in a big town so I could be the opposite of a small town. I went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, which is where I ended up living after college for the majority of my adult life, with a small six-year stint in Washington, DC. I came back to Dallas. I have a lot of great friends here and that's where I've been based since 2010.

Creating A Purpose-Driven Life

I love it and I told you my husband's family is in Dallas. Whenever I go there, I'm going to make sure we have coffee or something. Creating a purpose-driven life. I think this is the most important topic in everyone's life. What is my purpose? How do I gain clarity on my purpose? Those are some of the questions I hear the most. We want to hear about your story. How did that journey of creating a purpose-driven life start? How did you start gaining clarity on your purpose?

I wish I would have had a connection to this earlier on, and don't get me wrong, part of it is still being fulfilled in corporate America, but I didn't have a way to articulate it. I didn't have a way to say these were my values, but this was my purpose. It took some trial and error and incidents, and we'll go into that. That brought me closer to that spark inside of me that was hungry but wasn't being fed.

I think going through the motions in Corporate America, especially in consulting, and you know this, but some of our readers might not, is an up or out model when you're in consulting. You are constantly in achieving mode. Even right after a promotion, you're like, “I've only got X amount of years until the next one. I've got to immediately start, jumping into what's next,” without even taking a true moment sometimes to celebrate what you accomplished. It's always this upward momentum. For some, it feeds their soul. That's exactly what they need to do. As we were talking before we started, I do have a sense of achiever as one of my top five strengths.

That was being fed. It wasn't like I was miserable moving up the ladder and doing all that work. I got to meet a lot of great people. I got to work with some amazing individuals and work on some cool topics with clients. There was greatness there, but I started to learn later in life that it was the development of the people.

It wasn't necessarily like the work or the topic, but it was the connection with people. It was helping them see something beyond what they were currently capable of seeing for themselves. There are a lot of rating systems that happen in consulting that tell people like, “I'm exceeding, I'm meeting expectations or I'm not.”

A lot of times as a leader, certain individuals would be amazing on this project, but they're not available because they're working on something else and they're committed, but then you will hear from somebody, “This is what's available, but they come with a performance problem” or, “I worked with them somewhere else and they weren't great.” I had to stop and say, “Okay, you're putting a lot of labels on this individual, and you're already trying to make me think that they're less than or not capable.”

I said, “We hired them for a reason. They showed some aptitude. They did something. They've got an amazing degree from somewhere. They were able to accomplish a goal and get through it.” I'm going to go in with that mindset and look at it from that perspective. Let me tell you, 9 times out of 10, the people who had been forgotten, the people who had one bad project because their skills didn't align with that one in particular, we found ways for them to excel on the project.

All these people ended up would get promoted within a year or two. Even though they were told, “This might be their last stop in the progression,” we found ways for them to excel, own who they were, and lean into that. I prided myself on that as a people leader within the organization. I wanted more of that type of stuff. I kept pushing for some of those things to be taken a little bit more seriously or evaluated because of what you saw within the organization.

A lot of leaders, when they hit a certain tenure have to become what they call a people lead which is representing somebody and their performance for promotion, bonuses, and all the good stuff that you want to be represented on. Not everyone was cut equally and being a good people lead. It's like, if you were a bad people lead, there was no real punishment or repercussion from that. It was like, “You should do better about your people,” but nothing happened.

I wanted to see more of that come to fruition because when we are great leaders and great people leads, it opens the door for so much more possibility, innovation, and those types of things with your employees and you get more. You allow them to be resilient, bounce back from a bad project. We all have bad days, and we all have bad moments, but we shouldn't be judged for the rest of our lives on that one bad moment. How do we bounce back and show that resiliency? Those were the parts that really started to resonate within me. That's when I needed to start to explore what that is.

I noticed myself getting emotional already. I promise it's not the pregnancy hormones. It's the story because I love what you said. The leader leads individuals or teams potential many times. I love that in those individuals, maybe they had a dark spot because we all have those moments, like you said, you focused on the light. You focused on what they had done well and why they had been hired.

I don't share this often, but I think, I don't know, when I'm comfortable, I'm going to share it even more. Before working at Accenture, I was working for a corporation that had a rigid ranking system. When I realized that chemical engineering and process engineering were not for me, I asked to transition, but I asked to transition before I was ranked.

That was not the most strategic decision, but I didn't know better because I was relatively new to this corporation. That request to transition from engineering to supply chain was a big no-no. That was a big career killer. I got tons of positive feedback from all the leaders and all the engineers. When I got ranked, they completely, without me knowing, trashed me.

The new organization was the one that gave me the news, not even the organization that I worked with. At that moment, I felt like a backstabbed, one. Two, I felt this self-doubt because I was always a high achiever. I had this one leader who welcomed me to the new organization even after knowing all of this news.

He told me, “I've seen this happen before and it is very unfortunate. If you focus on doing the right things and working hard, I promise we are going to help you.” It takes years to go from not doing very well, from the bottom to the top, but within three years, which is unheard of, I was in the top of the ranking system instead of the bottom. They tell you bottom, middle, top, and all of those things, and it was because of that individual. It was because of that leader.

I love that you were that person whenever you were in corporate and that opened up your curiosity to continue exploring your purpose. I think why I got emotional is because it was such a hard moment when you feel like people don't believe in you. I've always been doing so well and then this happened and you feel helpless. I think that's so powerful, Steven.

Thank you for sharing that, too, because I think that's something that the majority of us can relate with. Even though, yes, we both found great success and moved up that ladder and got rated high, a lot of it, yes, is our ability to adapt and learn and grow. There is an individual component to that, but I go to the, “There's not an I in a team.” You can't do everything on your own.

When you have these doors that are opened or someone believes in you, I've had that in my career, where I had a really bad project and thought, “I've messed up my career.” Somebody saw something in me and said, “That's a blip. You can either accept what happened and lay there and not progress and allow that to become your mantra, your label, or whatever you want to call that or you can say, ‘What did you learn? How are you going to be different in the next role and continue to move forward?’”

They allowed me to move forward and believed in me and that was an impetus for me to continue on that path. If it hadn't been for them, it would have been really easy for me to say, “Maybe this isn't for me. Maybe I should leave consulting. Maybe I should find another job.” It took that one person to open the door and say, “I see you. I see your potential, and let's look at this from a different perspective and work together on how to move forward.”

I think what you're describing is also coaching us. As coaches, so many times our clients are selling themselves short and we remind them of their greatness of who they truly are because they have all the resources to succeed within themselves. I think that's beautiful. At that moment, you started noticing what your purpose was, and I loved what you said. There was something within my soul that was hungry and needed to be fed. You started noticing. What was the journey between noticing and taking courageous action, that type of action that we know is a line but we are so afraid of moving forward with?

Part of the story of where I had a break. I was living this consulting life, doing all these things, and ignoring some of these things that I was starting to realize about myself as a sacrifice to achieve and continue to move at this crazy pace that is expected of you. I found myself in a hotel in downtown Houston.

I had an early morning client meeting. I think it was like 6:30 or 7:00. I had to get up and be on this call. I was going to go get ready to go to the office down the street. All of a sudden, I felt this massive pain in my chest and I fell because I became completely paralyzed. I was lying on this hotel room floor, not able to move, thinking I was having a massive heart attack and this was going to be it.

This was going to be where they found me and my life was going to be complete. It was a really scary wake-up call. When I was able to move three hours later and I realized I didn't have a heart attack, what happened? I immediately called my doctor's office and thank gosh, she was available. She got on the phone and she talked through it and she's like, “You didn't have a heart attack, but it sounded like you had a major panic attack.”

I never experienced what that felt like and let me tell you, for all of you who are out there who have had it, it is the scariest feeling that you might ever go through. I empathize and I feel that pain, but it was time for me to start asking questions and through therapy and getting a coach, I had both. During that time frame, I took some time off, and I started getting into what I wanted to achieve versus who I was and who I needed to be, and I asked all these questions.

I explored deep into myself what needs to happen moving forward. A lot of that was about setting some healthy boundaries. It was okay to say no to everything. It's okay to celebrate where you're at. Maybe you don't move up the progression change as fast, but celebrate where you're at and be okay. You've got great success, you're making good money, and you don't have to keep doing this and saying yes to everything.

I started creating those boundaries and then through working with a therapist, and working with my coach, I started to come into this understanding and recognition of what this purpose was. I think a lot of it. After that, I came back and the pandemic started. The week that I came back to Accenture from my leave of absence, the world shut down the next week.

I came back on the 16th of March of 2020 and the next week, they shut down the cities, they shut down travel, they shut down everything. I'm like, “Okay, now I'm home. I'm not going to do any extensive travel, I can concentrate on being focused on what I need to do here, but I still have more time to myself.”

I started to realize, when I got asked to do some stuff with Ariana Huffington and Thrive Global. At the time, our global lead for the part of the organization I was in, was asking, “How do we talk about this topic of human resilience?” Accenture published some research in a white paper looking at all the aspects of well-being that people need. Before the pandemic, corporations were focusing on things like financial health. They were focusing on things like growth and opportunity and that's where they thought they played. They thought they didn't need to spend so much time and investment on your mental and emotional well-being, your relation well-being, and your physical well-being.

Then the pandemic hit and all of a sudden those things became important and we were playing in this space and it washed over me in a way that I was like, “There's an ability for people to bounce back,” because that's really what resilience is. It is to bounce back from adversity, to bounce back from things that are tough and hard.

Resilience is to bounce back from adversity, to bounce back from things that are tough and hard. 

That struck me to the core. Getting to continue to play with that with the health and well-being global strategy, getting to play with that and the leadership and development and culture practice at Accenture, it all started to come to fruition there is something here that I want to be a part of and then I came up with a purpose statement. That is, “I am the light that illuminates and awakens self-discovery in others.”

I want to be that spotlight. I want them to start to discover so much about themselves that they bring that to the forefront. They bring that learning of who they are, what they need, and where they want to go. It starts to open doors for them. It starts to help them make better decisions. When I left Accenture, it was about what I needed to do to be in this space, getting multiple certifications for coaching.

It was so I would now have the tools to be able to talk and guide people through this process of illuminating and awakening parts of them that you unconsciously and consciously have pushed down because you're in the daily slug of everything. How do you take a moment to breathe and respect yourself and let that come up? Let the calmness and the quiet come about you so that you can focus on yourself and create that space for yourself. When you do that, it unlocks so much.

You gave us so many nuggets of wisdom, and your story is incredible. Thank you for the vulnerability. I had the same awakening, and it was because of that panic attack. I realized that tons of people have had panic attacks. Of course, they don't talk about it openly. I think that's the important part of sharing our stories and being vulnerable and authentic because we have many commonalities. All of us, it doesn't matter how far we have gotten, how great we do achieving, we have our lows. What that panic attack taught me afterward was truly to start listening before getting into a crisis or touching rock bottom.

As you had, my body, mind and spirit were communicating for a long time, but I kept tolerating the pain. I kept not listening until my body, the last defense mechanism, said, “Steven, listen. Yanet, listen, you got to do something about it before something else happens.” That's exactly when I started paying attention to myself.

I think I had to go through that process of death and it wasn't a little death. It was more of a, we thought we were dying, but we were not. I love that you talk about the pandemic because as you were talking about it, I made the correlation that the pandemic was a panic attack for the world. Everyone was focusing on achieving and they were in survival mode and suddenly, the well-being and creating space became important.

It was a major reset. It was a reset that has impacted the way work is done even now. You have companies that are still grappling with, “Do we force everyone back on site full-time? Do we allow people to work from home 2 or 3 days a week? Do we have roles that are 100% still remote?” We still want to tap into a talent base that that's the only way they're willing to work right now because that's what works for them and their well-being.

The pandemic was a reset that has impacted the way work is done even up to today. 

We have completely shifted and defined. It was funny. I was working with one client while I was still with Accenture, and they were talking about remote versus onsite, hybrid, and all this type of stuff. We were discussing what's important. There was a group of older executives who had been with the company for 30 years.

What they wanted was to revert exactly back to the way they were comfortable with. One of the quotes was, “I want to be back on campus. I want to have Taco Tuesdays. I want the guy that shines my boots. I want all of those amenities that we had because that's when we were at our best.” That's when maybe you were at your best.

You're not listening to what other people might be like, “I can give so much more with this flexibility and I'm finishing projects faster. I am doing things because I'm working at a pace and a time frame that works for me and you're getting more of me. Forcing me to go back for Taco Tuesday for you is actually where I'm not going to be my best.

Gaining Clarity On Your Values

I love that so much because you're right. It's about what is working for every person, every individual, and us as a team. Hybrid makes sense because it appeals to all of the demands. Why do you think most people, including us, because we were at that stage where we had to go through that awakening, why do you think most people wait until a crisis or until they touch rock bottom to maybe start gaining clarity on their purpose and who they are or their purpose. Why do you think we are wired to wait for that moment, for that pain to awaken?

I posted it on my LinkedIn, but there was a quote from Adam Grant that he put out and it was, “Belief is something that we hold to be true and values are things that we hold to be important.” A lot of times, our beliefs are institutionalized in our hearts and minds based on I have to work this many hours for me to get promoted. I need not go on vacation so that I can show that I am dedicated and that I am placed at a higher level than other people.

They create these beliefs, right, wrong, or indifferent, that become the rules of how they feel they should operate. The other part of that quote that he said is, “When somebody tells you to change what you believe, it is almost like a threat to your system.” You go into fight or flight. No, this is what is true. I believe it because it's true. You can't tell me to change that, but when you start to look at things through your values, I always ask them the question when someone comes in and says, “I've got to do this.”

I say, “That sounds like a really strong belief.” They reply, “Yeah. It's what I believe is true.” I then flip it around like, "What's important in this belief?” You said, ‘I've got to work harder to be happy.’ Does working hard by itself make you happy?” “No, I'm tired.” “What does it mean to be happy?” We go through all that stuff.

We start to narrow it down. What is important for you to honor here? When it's being honored, it feels really good. There's resonance. When it's being dishonored or even worse, being violated, you feel that dissonance. You feel that fight or flight. I'm angry, I'm annoyed, I shut down, I retreat. When we get to that singular word, they're like, “That's it.” You found your value.

That is really what you're trying to have honored. When you name it, you can then start to define it. I worked with somebody. One of my clients and I were going through a value of theirs. Every single person can have a word that might be similar to their value, but what starts to be unique is their definition and what it means to them.

I see a lot of people will get down to its respect, but respect can mean so many different things to people. It's the actions, the words, the attributes that go with it. When we name it and define it, it becomes uniquely yours. That's where you were talking about the beginning, is it allows people then to articulate who I am right now, what I need, advocate for what I'm willing to do and what I'm not willing to do in this moment. That way, I can navigate the situation.

You start to create 4, 5, or 6 core values that are important to you, and they become your compass and guidepost on how to deal with situations. This is feeling good. You can ask yourself, “Which one of my values or multiple are being honored right now? This is great. How do I continue to put myself in situations that give me this fulfillment, feeling good?”

Same thing on the other side. I'm in this situation, I'm sitting in this meeting and I'm starting to shut down. I do not want to talk. I feel agitated or still stepped on. Which one of my values or multiple of my values are not being honored at this moment? You can catalog it quickly because you hold these near and dear to your heart.

You catalog it quickly and you're like, “It's this. It's commitment.” Commitment, to me, means following through with what you're going to say, but this person didn't do that. Now I have options on how I'm going to articulate what is going on and I'm not going from a gut feeling. I'm not going from this, and what a wayward journey it is to get there. I have purpose and clarity on what I can say at this moment.

I think that is so important. Values are something that I hear people talk about and I use it in my coaching, but I think I love that you're focusing this conversation on values because, as you said, they are our intrinsic motivators. They are the deepest level of our subconscious programming because these are the things that move us.

How I love to utilize values is also for decision-making. Many people struggle with assertiveness or indecisiveness, but once they know their values, they can use that framework to make better decisions, to choose better positions, to choose better partners because, like you said, values are getting to know yourself at a deep level, like finding your purpose.

I'll give an example so people can see how this plays out. I have a client whose values are integrity, connection, loyalty, positivity, and commitment. We were talking about her, and because of her connection, loyalty, and positivity, she'll say yes to a lot of things, such as where she gets to herself in a situation where she's overcommitted.

To her, backing out of a commitment and saying, “I can't be there. I can't do that,” is the worst feeling for her. It washes over her, and she feels sick that she has to tell somebody she can't do something, which is something she has already committed to. It is the worst feeling. We were talking about how she's overcommitted, has an event coming up that she really has not been able to prioritize, and is not prepared.

If she goes to this event, she's going to be a shell of herself looking at the clock, ready to go because she can't physically and mentally be there for this right now, but her sense of commitment is like, “I still have to push through and be there.” We did some balance work and talked about what are some of the perspectives that we could deal with here. We brought in some of her other values.

I said, “How do you utilize integrity, connection, loyalty, and positivity and your definitions of those values to figure out what's going to be best for you in this situation?” She pulled in her priority, which is always integrity, and for her, that means you are inclined to do the right thing. We explored, “Is showing up as a shell of yourself not prepared and all that stuff. Is that the right thing for you?”

She's like, “No.” I said, “Would you feel guilty being there versus not being there?” She replied, “I'm going to feel guilt either way, but I'll probably feel more guilty being there because I didn't have my integrity intact and did everything that I needed that I said I was going to do.” Her positivity, and outlook that is more good than bad, always starting with things that will be okay. That's what it means to her.

I said, “How can you use that?” She goes, “I could have the conversation with my friend that I've overcommitted, I'm not prepared, I'm exhausted and everything. If I tell her this, I know things will be okay because we have a strong friendship.” She started working through these and using her values. All of a sudden, she got to the point with, “I need to give myself grace. I've overcommitted.”

“Even though commitment is important to me, my integrity is more of a priority and my positivity knowing that I'm going to be okay if I don't go and our friendship is going to be okay if I don't go.” She committed to calling her after our session. She called and ten minutes after our session, I got a text saying, “That was way easier than I made it out to be.”

“My friend was extremely understanding because I was very authentic saying, ‘I want to be there and that I'm loyal and that I'm committed but I know if I show up tonight, you're not going to get the best version of me. I want to always give you the best version. Tonight's not going to be a good night for me.” Her friend responded with, “I completely get it. We all have those days. You're good.”

She goes, “I felt the weight of the world, even though it was something so small and trivial as a commitment to a book club.” And she was like, “I'm not there. Knowing that I was given that loyalty and connection back to say it's okay, I felt as light as a feather.” All she did was attach to her values to help her make that decision.

I love how you utilize her values to connect to others because integrity for her is like, “I said this. I’ve got a follow-through on a commitment,” but then you allowed her to reconnect to herself because the loyalty, the commitment, the integrity, all of that also applies to that inner guidance within herself. From the outside to the inside, that's the power of coaching, which is exactly the process you described.

That's where the other thing we went in. The values are important for you to demonstrate to others, but how are you showing that same value to yourself? How are you honoring it for you? Sometimes, that disconnect is not what other people are doing to us. It's us not honoring our own values.

There is that realization that is like, “If this is so important to me, and I'm expecting others to do it, but I'm not leaning into it as well.” That's where the negative feeling is coming from. That's where the disconnect is coming from. You can apply this. I work with a lot of clients that are dealing with trepidation, fear, and work environments and those types of things, or they're at a transition of, “Do I go for this promotion or do I go and get another job because I don't feel the connection here?”

We're honing in on those values of themselves to make some of these bigger decisions while taking into consideration that you have to pay your bills and do all these things. There are a lot of things that go into making these decisions, but a lot of them have never articulated what their values truly are. However, they are always there because you get the signs.

I love what you said earlier. Our bodies sometimes, at the last resort, saying, “Wake up. Stop.” Our bodies are giving us messages before, but we get caught, and I use this analogy a lot of times with my clients. We get caught between the bottom of our chin and the top of our head, and we ruminate in our heads, and we ignore what our bodies are telling us.

Our bodies have as much information that is very useful for us to tap into to make a decision. Your gut sometimes tells you. If you're stressed, your shoulders are hurt, and they're like being pressed down. These are all signs that something is going on. When you listen and you allow yourself to explore what's there, it gives you a lot of information to help you make a decision.

I also call that from survival to creation because when you're in survival mode, you're reacting, you're not listening, you're like, “Go, go, go.” When you allow that space and you listen to this inner guidance within yourself, then you can start living and creating intentionally, which is exactly this path of a purpose-driven life. There is purpose. There is intention. In Steven's story, what do you think were the values that maybe were missing within yourself that were the motivators for you to decide to pursue your purpose?

My values are commitment, connection, positivity, trust, collaboration, and respect. There was this connection to the people there, but it wasn't being honored and I didn't see the same commitment coming from the business as a whole. I realized, yes, the business has to make money and all this stuff. I felt like there was an opportunity lost when we could have been doing even better if we had focused on this connection to our people and being there and shining a light instead of quick judgment and all that stuff. I saw it breaking down a lot of people and that deterioration over time started to affect the positivity within me. It started to break down some of the respect and trust that was needed. Those things started to be eroded.

As much as I was pushing to push through that and get those honored again, it wasn't the right space and time for what I needed versus where the company was. There is no fault. I had an amazing time at Accenture and I don't take it back that I worked there. I had a great experience for the most part. I met the most amazing people, had amazing clients, and I learned a lot of great skills. For the people who are still there who enjoy it, I applaud you because you were following parts of your passion, parts of your purpose, and parts of your thing. It became at a certain point, I had run the journey of what it needed to be, and it was time for me to accept that I needed to go do something else.

Leverage Your Values To Find Purpose

The commitment, I think, also turned inward on what commitment am I making to myself to be more in alignment with that path that is so powerful. In terms of values and purpose, I know these are very interrelated, but for the readers out there, how do you leverage your values? Do you leverage these concrete values like labels and words that have a meaning?

Words don't have inherent meaning except the meaning that we assign them. Every person, the same word has different meanings, but once they understand their values, how can they relate that to their purpose? How do you utilize that to help your clients and even help yourself gain clarity on your purpose?

It's funny that you asked because after we did a chemistry test, they agreed, “Yes, I want to work with you as a coach.” The first session we do is a discovery session, which is an hour and a half long. I say, “I have the agenda to help you identify a lot of these tools.” The reason I called my company Build Your Alliance, it's not about networking with a bunch of people out in the world. It's about building the alliance of the tools that are within you. Once you go through this self-discovery, you understand your values, your purpose, your inner leader, your allies, and how you point those toward your goals, but you also know your saboteur. The part of you that can be self-doubt that tells you, “You're comfortable. Yon't get up and go work out right now. Stay in bed.” It's that part of you that can hold you back and we all have saboteurs. That's something that's always a part of us.

When we identify these tools, it allows us to make better decisions. After I do the values exercise, we start identifying three or four. That's not going to be all your values, but it's you start to understand how to identify and connect with them. We then move over to this life purpose. It's all about the statement that incites expression, for summarizing your core values, passions, aspirations, guiding actions, and decisions.

It's not meant to be something that you're plastering on a billboard for every single person. I say it's intimately close that you keep here, close to your chest, heart, and soul. When you are in a tough situation or maybe you've gotten into a little bit of a dark place or a dark patch, you can use this to reorient yourself to make yourself feel like you have solid ground under your feet again so that you can be connected to it to make a step in the direction you want to go in.

It's who you are right now and who you want to continue becoming. We tap into this energy and I have some wildly creative clients. When we go through some of these visualizations, who are like, “They got their metaphor identified. This is the impact that I'm doing.” Others need more analysis. They need to sit with it. They need to be introspective.

We'll sign up for homework. We tap into these values that they've already started to define. We tap into it, and we do a little bit of visualization where they project themselves into the future and think about it. I'm sitting there and reading these cards. “I'm 85, 90 years old. People have sent me what they think about me, the positive impacts that I've had on their life, and what they want to thank me for.”

For some people, that's hard to get into that spotlight of it's about me, but others will bathe in that warm feeling and see these themes appearing that say, “I'm proud that I continue to show up for people. I create a space for authenticity. I looked for opportunities to develop,” whatever that may be. They start to see these themes.

Those themes are for this purpose. These are the action statements that you want to impact on other people. Impart this on them. This is how you want to continue to show up. This is how you feel you're showing up today and you want to do more of it. That way, when you are 85 years old and you're looking back on your life, you can proudly say, “I did those things.”

Purpose is the action statements that you want to impact on other people. 

We want you to get connected with those aspects of yourself. We'll spend time bathing in all of that glory of what is happening and allowing you to create this short, concise statement of, “I am the blank that helps people do what?” What is the impact? They create that. Let me tell you, my most analytical clients that needed time to think are, I don't know, they go do this for homework and they come back and they're like, “I sat down and I thought about it.”

They attach to it and then we can utilize that when we're in situations and I'll ask, “You're making a tough decision right now. How are you aligning this to your purpose? Is it honoring your purpose? Is it not? If it's not, what do you need to do differently? Is it okay that it's not right now and that's the decision you need to make?” It gives them something to calibrate against and you're not aimlessly going out there trying to make a decision.

Yes, it's like their North Star vision is this guiding mechanism that helps you live authentically. I ask you a question because so many people have this misconception that a purpose is, “I'm going to be a doctor, an engineer or have a business.” They do meaning to having or achieving something and that's the purpose. What really purpose is, it's more on the being level, on the being energy, which by the way, that's the only thing we have control of.

Who are we showing up like? I love that you say that purpose is who you are right now. Who do you want to continue being? Who do you want to be in the future? Which is the same thing and that's what values are too. Values are all about that being an element that we are in control of. Many times we are waiting for the outside to fulfill what we already were in control of, which is like being authentic, being committed to integrity, all of those things. That's also the beauty of defining your purpose. Your purpose, I see it more as our why. How you get there remains flexible.

You're right. Your purpose is not your goal. Your purpose is your state of being who you are and who you want to continue becoming. Your goals are things that you want to accomplish, and you can utilize your purpose to influence them. I think that the big thing is, like you said, it's like my purpose is not, I want to go to med school and be a doctor.

My purpose is that I am the healer who brings comfort to people in times of pain and uncertainty. That's an example of what a doctor's purpose statement might be. There's a difference. I love the way that you said it's a state of being. If I'm being this way, then I am fulfilled or I'm filling my cup. That's really where values and purpose lie in this ability to be fulfilled in life.

When we are fulfilled or in the process of filling that cup, we feel things like joy, happiness, new comfort, and calm. Things that allow us to bathe again in this nice, warm light. The opposite of when those things are not being fulfilled, that's when we feel the dissonance. That's when we feel the icky, the anger, those things that end up depleting our battery and our energy reserves a lot faster. When they're being honored, it's a recharge.

I love how you said it and I love everything you have shared with us in this episode. That's the biggest project that we have in this life, getting to know ourselves. That's why your work is so important. It is important to get to know the deepest level of who you are, which is defined by values and purpose. I love that.

The building block for everything that we do, right?

Everything. Foundations, even goals, have to be tied to a purpose. If not, you achieve, you achieve, and you're like, “Something is empty, I don't feel fulfilled.” It’s normal to have those moments, but what are you going to do about it?

It's such a simple concept that we neglect. Every client that I've worked with, when they turn around and change that focus, it was like something was missing, and now it's not. I can focus on the right areas, and I can feel fulfilled. It doesn't mean that life is always going to be apples, candy, and happiness. No, we still have to deal with adversity, but in those moments of adversity, at least we have some tools that we can work with to navigate it.

Lessons are the biggest wins. I'm sure you're very grateful for your panic attack. I'm very grateful for my panic attack because I learned so much from it. That was very low in our lives, but we wouldn't be here without that low.

We learned from it and we were resilient and we bounced back.

Rapid Fire Questions

Resilience is your superpower. We are all resilient. Steven, before I ask you how our readers can connect, I always do with my guests a rapid-fire question to conclude this amazing, powerful, energizing episode. I have so much energy right now, listening to you. You're amazing. I'm so grateful that you were able to have this time with all of us. Are you ready for your rapid-fire questions?

I'm ready.

Okay, what's your favorite book?

My favorite book of all time, and it's my favorite movie, is Alice Walker's The Color Purple.

Who is your biggest role model?

My biggest role model would have to be my mom. She passed away many years ago, but through the adversity of having MS, lupus, and ultimately cancer, this person was the definition of resilience. She was able to continue to have a smile on her face, be there for her children, be there for people, even though she was in consistent and constant pain. She was a light that people gravitated towards.

My mom is my biggest role model, so I feel it. I feel it in your word. What's the most important piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

That would have to be, don't just listen with your head, but listen with your body and understand what's there. Your intuition, your gut says a lot. Listen.

Don't just listen with your head, but listen with your body and understand what's there. Your intuition and your gut say a lot. 

What does Steven stand for in one word?

Steven stands for collaboration.

Connect With Steven

I'm so happy we are collaborating on this interview. Steven, if our readers say, “I need to connect with Steven. I'm interested in his services. The values, the purpose completely resonated with me,” how can they connect, contact you, and give us all of the information?

As I said, the name of the company is Build Your Alliance. The website is simple, On there, it's going to have my services, but the great thing is that I'm willing to do a 30-minute sample coaching session with anybody for free. What we do in that session is about fifteen minutes of real coaching, bring a topic, we go through it, and I show you how I am in a coaching situation and how I will show up for you.

We spend fifteen minutes talking about the services that I provide, if any of those are of interest to you, pricing, and all that fun stuff. If it's something you want to commit to, we move forward and set all that up. It's that simple. I think the main part is I focus on people who are in some type of transition. “I want a promotion. Maybe this job's not for me. I'm stuck behind this barrier or this wall. I don't know how to set boundaries. I need to set boundaries.” For those types of people who are seeking clarity on how to do that, let's work on those values. Let's work on that purpose, and create this alliance of tools within you so that you can have certainty and clarity moving forward.

To our readers, Steven is an amazing leader and coach. This is a 30-minute free call. Come on, you get value from this call. You've got to connect with him if this is something that resonates with you. Steven, thank you so much for sharing your powerful story, and all of your wisdom. I appreciate you and I'm mega grateful for you.

I am grateful to be here. I'm grateful for you and the connection that we made back in 2016 and 2017 before you jumped into what you're doing now, and I applaud you. You're doing amazing work and continue to be that shining star for people because we all need it.

Thank you so much, Steven. Our readers, if you enjoyed this episode, if it added value to you, which I'm sure it did, share with your friends and family. Let's continue spreading the light of empowerment and I'll see you next time.


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About Steven Urban

Steven Urban spent over 20 years in the stressful business consulting world, leading large complex transformation teams at some of the world's biggest companies. During this time he discovered that his favorite part of the job was helping people overcome lack of confidence, find their voices, and excel at their careers. Steven has since left the consulting world and is concentrating his energy on empowering people to name and define their values and life purpose so they can better articulate who they are and then advocate for themselves in all situations. He is enjoying his day-to-day work coaching individuals and teams on how to utilize their alliance of personal tools to navigate whatever life throws at them personally and professionally.






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