“Purpose to me is the why and the drive behind any action or everything that you do.”
Alex Lee sees himself as a simple person who just really had a go at helping other people; helping others has become his purpose. Alex is CEO of The Glen, as well as a community leader, founder and ultramarathon runner – the first Australian to run 10 marathons in 10 days – whose life of service began with his own call to the Kids Helpline when he was just 14 years old.
There is nothing simple about the generational impact he is having while following his purpose, surrounding himself with positivity and doing happy things.
During high school Alex was a bit of a loner who spent a lot of time in the library. He experienced a bit of bullying during this period and the coping mechanisms he developed were avoidance and running away. Alex entered a dark depression in year seven and eight which led to him seeing the school counsellor, GP and calling the Kids Helpline. This was the start of Alex’s journey of figuring out who he was and finding his purpose in life.
To Alex, the simple definition of purpose is the why and the drive behind any action you do. “I find that for me, I make sure everything that I do, there’s purpose and meaning behind it and when there is that meaning, life is simple and it’s happy,” he says.
Have you read: The Power of Purpose – Simon Neylan
It was in year 12 that Alex found his strength was working with numbers and being organized. After he graduated from university he started full time at the accounting firm KPMG. By this stage Alex had learnt a lot about mental health (because of the depression, bipolar and anxiety that he had been through) by volunteering with event management at Beyond Blue and the online forum ReachOut, as well as helping refugees and asylum seekers settling into Australia.
When he was given the opportunity of taking a career break to work with the Department of Immigration for 9-12 months, setting up programs in the offshore detention centres between Christmas Island, Darwin, as well at the Northern Immigration Detention Centre, he took it! The biggest challenge he faced was managing volunteers. He soon learnt that to be an effective leader and keep these peoples cups filled, he first needed to understand their purpose for taking the role.
Have you read: Leadership Experiences of a Refugee – Quang Nguyen
Fast forward to now and Alex is the CEO of The Glen, a holistic rehabilitation centre that provides physical, mental and spiritual drug and alcohol rehabilitation. It will come as no surprise to hear that helping others and the community plays a huge role in the healing work that they do. Alex explains that “by helping others or helping the community, people are able to understand. It gives people an idea of what their strengths are and shows people that they have the ability to help others. That gives people a lot of self-worth and self-confidence.”
The purpose of The Glen is to keep helping more people. It was at The Glen that Alex was introduced to the Seventh Generation Principle – the decisions of today affect the next seven generations. Even though they do a lot of work supporting clients to work with their past, they balance it out by looking forward and empowering them to live the future life that they want to live. The emu has been featured on The Glen’s t-shirt because this is an animal that can’t move backwards easily, which reflects their looking forward work environment.
The complete interview, which includes a more in-depth look at the key events, experiences and people that have shaped Alex’s journey (without word count restraints), can be listened to here, on audio platforms, or watched here, on The Culture of Leadership (TCoT) YouTube channel – which also includes bonus tattoo content :-).