“Purpose is not a lofty ideal; it has deeply practical implications for a firm’s financial sustainability and competitiveness. People who find meaning in what they do don’t hoard their energy for other pursuits. They give it freely and defy conventional assumptions about self interest. They grow rather than stagnate. They do more – and they do it better”.
Prof Robert E. Quinn, University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business
A firm’s purpose beyond profit is not just about social value. When placed at the heart of business, purpose is a growth strategy, it’s a purchase trigger and an investment driver. It makes the organisation a more potent force for good.
With half the workforce in the Western world dissatisfied with their careers, a leader’s most important job is to connect people to their purpose.
Purpose creates action. It’s not about structure, hierarchy or systems. It’s fundamentally about people reaching their potential and firms thriving long into the future.
Great companies are tapping into this movement by articulating a higher purpose. They inspire employees at all stages of their careers with a call to action that builds identity, focuses on inclusiveness and challenges possibility.
In times of great change, to set out to make the world a better place is inspirational. That inspiration feeds back to create more well-rounded executives and great ideas. This potent cycle not only benefits society, but everyone who participates – corporations, individuals and communities.
AUTHENTICITY IS KEY
If executives judge purpose to be authentic, transformation will begin. To achieve this, leaders need to align their firm with a purpose that intersects with their business interests and helps guides their decisions.
Embedding purpose into an organisation is not a one-dimensional practice focusing on marketing efforts. To be successful, it must be weaved into the very fabric of the firm.
And when authenticity of purpose permeates business strategy positive peer pressure kicks in, collaboration increases, learning is amplified and performance climbs. .
“Career and a social conscience can create defining moments of motivation when it dawns on us that our work and our lives impact real people”.
Jonathan C. Lewis
IT’S A LEARNING PROCESS
In society, many people strive for things like money, status and affirmation, however what we rarely talk about or have the words to adequately describe is what brings us purpose?
Purpose can mean different things at different chapters of our lives. Often our purpose will find us when we’re mindful and open to it. Clarity will emerge partly through accessibility and partly through opportunity.
It’s something we build into our life; from our past; from the things we believe in, and out of the values for which we are willing to sacrifice for something.
We are all born with gifts and talents. It is through life’s experiences that these talents emerge, are recognised and can be built upon as the foundation for a meaningful life.
When purpose is nurtured, we experience times of intense discovery, our connectedness to the world deepens, empathy expands and self awareness heightened. It’s our “why’ that drives us forward.
Today, the possibilities of creating meaningful impact in work and life are vast and growing — from contributing your skills towards addressing challenging social issues, to starting a social enterprise, creatively re-designing the path you are on by uncovering a deeper purpose in your existing work and focusing on it, or transition into something entirely new..
As purpose expert Aaron Hurst says: purpose is a learning process that includes:
Your psychological approach to work: how you invest in self understanding.
How you structure the type of work you do: doing something greater than yourself.
IT’S ABOUT YOUR STORY
People tend to rely on work to define themselves, but you are you outside of work? Finding out exactly who you are is liberating. It provides insights into whether you’re on track to achieve your goals as you move through life, and often it starts with the story you tell yourself about yourself.
Who are you when you’re at your best? What do you value? What are the lessons you’ve learnt and what might you yet become?
Creating a narrative from the phases and events of your life brings clarity. It helps you understand nature and nurture - how you became you. The more specific your story, the more powerfully you can communicate your values and the things you hold dear.
Living a purposeful life takes mindfulness and authenticity. It's an ongoing process. Articulating your story provides a hopeful vision you can share with others as you move towards the first steps of living the life you want.