Find a purpose and live 7 years longer
“4 years, 3 months, 18 days and 3 hours until I get my pension”. This was said to me by a professor I met last week. He explained that the world of academics is less purposeful than expected, with professors mainly optimizing for their own position to make sure nobody surpasses them, and so now that the shine had worn off, he was counting down to his retirement. Academics aren’t alone. I recently spoke to a top manager of a big international corporation who told me that the board members all parted from their CxO positions at 60, latest; not to make a place for younger generations, but because they were all worn down by the pressure and the politics that came with the job. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in business, or in life. People sacrifice the best hours, days, and years of their life in roles without creating anything that fulfils them. Gallup wrote in 2018 that ‘only 13% of employees are engaged in their work — that is, they are emotionally invested and focused on creating value for their organizations every day’.But should we just accept this?Of course not. There is a great antidote to a lack of engagement and that’s purpose! In the 7 ‘blue zones’ of the world, which are areas where people live to a significantly older age than the average, we see that people live healthier, happier and longer lives (on average 7 years +) because they live and work for a higher cause than their own wellbeing. The Okinawans call this ‘ikigai’ and have developed an accessible model to find out how you can identify the sweet spot between what you love, what the world needs, what you’re good at, and what you can be paid for.
Take a look at the ikigai we created at ForChiefs a few years ago. Please be aware that we now phrase our purpose as ‘igniting meaningful work’ rather than ‘great work’, which now feels ‘too Trump-y’!
And what is true for people is true for businesses, since businesses are built and run by people. We have learned from Frederic Laloux that purpose is one of three main drivers for the sustainable success of companies. Given the fact that on average a company survives for less than 10 years, adding another 7 years through the addition of purpose is a lot! As a bonus, we also know from researcher Jim Stengel, who created the ‘Stengel 50’, that purpose-driven companies outperform the market by 400% in terms of profitability.
So what are you waiting for? Add a purpose to your life and business, and add 7 years to your, and its, lifetime. What are you going to do with these 7 years? Well, maybe start with getting one of the last tickets for our Purpose Day in Berlin on the 27th of September and find out how to define your personal and business purpose.