Book Review: ‘The Power of Purpose’ by Richard J. Leider

The Power of Purpose: About the Book

Richard J. Leider’s ‘The Power of Purpose’ is now on its third edition. Leider is ranked by Forbes as one of the ‘Top 5’ most respected executive coaches and by the Conference Board as a legend in coaching. His books have sold over 1 million copies and translated into twenty languages. Described by former Vice president of the USA, Walter F. Mondale, as ‘..[drawing] a roadmap for a life of service and improving the lives of others’. High praise indeed.
This book was just £12.45 new and about 178 pages. It contains around 41,000 words which would take the average reader about 3.5 hours to read, with 60% comprehension.

Book Cover Image for The Power of Purpose by Richard J. Leider

The Power of Purpose by Richard J. Leider


I found some of the nuggets made me stop and think.
For example, ‘When we consider that we spend about 60% of our life’s time working, common sense suggest that we discover work that is fulfilling.’ The book alludes to the famous quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., ‘Many people die with their music still in them. Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it time runs out.’ I liked this because it resonated with a previous phrase I’d heard about ‘Life not being a dress rehearsal’. Life is for living, and it is important to spend your time doing something you are passionate about. Sometimes it takes a book to remind us.


‘Our to-do lists will outlive us all’. As a Time Management trainer and big picture thinker (HBDI Yellow) this just made sense. As an effective manager of time, I have lists, lots of lists! The trick isn’t to try and clear the lists because I won’t. It is to choose what to do on those lists, according to what I want to achieve.


Two questions from ‘The  Purpose People’ really resonated with me.  ‘What are you good at?’ and ‘How can you help?’ Simple, yet, again they made me think. Someone had previously asked me: ‘What was my unique ability?’ Great question. I now know the answer.
The challenge the author has is to try to answer that huge question. Inevitably he couldn’t. Maybe my expectations were too high. Consequently, whilst there were some takeaway nuggets, I found the book to lack things to keep me hooked after I had read it. For instance, a story, a metaphor, or a piece that could sit with me.

The Four Purpose Myths

Richard Leider explores and discusses the concept of ‘Purpose Myths’, you can view him discussing some of them in the video below:

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Myth #1 – to Have Purpose Means I Must Do Something Completely Original.

Nothing is really new. Most new ideas are acts of borrowing, building or modifying.

Myth #2 – Only a Few Special People Have a True Purpose in Their Lives.

Being a novice is often an asset because we aren’t hemmed in by traditional ways of viewing a situation.

Myth #3 – True Purpose Comes as Inspiration or Revelation. Until That Time Comes, I Must as Well Keep Plodding Ahead.

Inspiration comes to those who act on it. First, we begin, then purpose moments appear everywhere.

Myth #4 – Purpose Is a Luxury. I Need to Make a Living!

It isn’t enough to be busy. Ants are busy. The question we should ask is, ‘What are we busy about?’.

Writing Your Purpose Statement

The book challenges us to write our purpose statement. Beginning with the following:

‘The reason I get up in the morning is to…’

I like this because the purpose statement is about being focused on what you want to achieve. Your place in the world. Carving out your own path. Knowing what you want. What you care about. What you are good at and using it to make a positive difference. Most people never consider these questions or the statement. By doing so, will help you to enjoy the journey more.

30:10:5 Rule Infographic

Read for 30, Write for 10, Teach for 5

Final Thoughts

‘As Gandhi said, ‘Even God cannot talk to a hungry man except in terms of bread’. Leider was talking about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and saying that first, we need to satisfy the basic needs, and then we can achieve more, and ultimately be who we want to be, achieving self-actualization.
He moved on to say that those who spend money on others are happier. Moreover, happiness, according to the book ‘The How of Happiness’ by Sonja Lyubomirsky, is determined by 3 things:

  • 50% by one’s emotional baseline.
  • 10% by one’s life circumstances.
  • 40% by engaging in purposeful activities.

I suggest reading this book because if you are going to read about anything, being purposeful should be it! Expect some repetition and no big reveal. ‘The Power of Purpose’ will make you stop and think a few times, and for me, that’s good enough for a 3.5-hour book.
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