A bright point in the night sky—the star, Polaris, the astronomical “True North”—has guided explorers, adventurers, and travelers from time immemorial. Even today, before charting any course, travelers must orient first to their own True North to find their bearings.

Your leadership journey, too, starts with the True North of Embodying Purpose, the “why” of the journey. With a clear and compelling purpose, you set the strategy and gather the people who will join you on the journey. Here you will ponder the basic questions: Why are you making the trip, how will you travel, and who will go with you? As a leader of others (in our example, thousands of others), you cannot expect people to follow blindly. You will need to show them the True North of Embodying Purpose so they, too, can embrace the “why” of the journey.

For the 4,000 people walking from New York to Los Angeles, there could be any number of “whys”—to build a team, to challenge themselves, to support a cause, to make a difference.

Just like the few who have scaled Mount Everest, these intrepid long-distance walkers may be motivated by the desire to accomplish what only a few have ever done. Where there is purpose, there ...

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