Purpose is the most durable source to tap from
Most companies we work with have a goal, vision, mission and/or strategy in some form. Lots of times it is in the heads of the C-level, sometimes in powerpoint, sometimes on the intranet. It’s rarely in the hearts and minds of employees. So, we ask a simple question to check whether a company is aligned on the road towards the future, “what is your definition of success?”.
On the one hand, we get answers in poetic military jargon varying from ‘crushing competition’, to ‘winning the war in the market’ and ‘to gain territory in new markets’, and on the other hand, we get simplistic Key Performance Indicators, mainly around revenue, market share and cost savings. We then ask them, “for whom are you in business?” or “what is the contribution of your company?”, or in other words “what is the purpose of your company?”. More often than not silence follows. This is not because people don’t understand the questions, but because they don’t know the answer, and by not being able to answer it they feel hollow. No wonder that according to research institute Gallup, 85% of the workforce is not engaged or is actively disengaged!
The good news is that all people are able to find their purpose, and can find out what their contribution is, from small things like ‘serving my kids to grow up to be healthy human beings’, to big things like ‘allowing refugees to feel welcome in their new home country’ and ‘to leave the world a bit better than I found it’. These goals lead people to invest time, effort and passion. They are willing to strive for impact and results beyond their self-interest. One can see people spending their evening and weekends, their money and their passion on it without expecting anything in return. It is the infinite source for people to tap from.
So if all people are able to live from purpose, even without knowing, then why do we numb ourselves as soon as we show up in herds at organizations to perform for goals we have no deep passion for? Although tempted, I will not answer my own question and will leave it up to you to find your inner answer. Instead, I would like to raise awareness of what a difference it makes if you actually start working from purpose.
Take a look at Patagonia whose purpose is framed as ‘we’re in business to save our home planet’. Their purpose translates into all they do, from switching to 100% organic cotton to shaping the office as a place to work and live. Patagonia is in business and in competition with other fashion brands, but the people working for Patagonia are known for aiming for big environmental goals that make them use their products to be tools on that mission. Anything that gets in their way, be it hierarchy, overtime, innovation, etc. seems to be taken on as a challenge that needs to be overcome rather than be used as an excuse. If you want to hear their story, come to Purpose Day on the 27th of September in Berlin and hear them share their approach and their insights.
And we as ForChiefs also have a purpose of course. Ours is to ‘ignite courage and passion to create meaningful work’, or in the short version ‘ignite meaningful work’. This is what brought us together, this is what attracts clients and coaches to join forces, this is what motivates us to work long and intense days, and this is what gives us a feeling of unlimited energy, allows us to keep up our optimism, and always have a smile on our face, even if we experience challenges and setbacks. We all have our own individual purpose that gives breadth and diversity to our group, to our network and to our product offering, but in the end, we are all driven to contribute to the true and sustainable progress and development of people, society and mankind.
For some this may sound utopian, esoteric and distant; we respect that and gladly recommend our competitors. Some may become curious, want to challenge, support or join us. For those, we open our arms and our doors to go on the purpose journey together. If you’re one of those people, come and start your journey at Purpose Day on 27th September. Find out how you can uncover your purpose and experience how you can tap from your infinite source and convert your work in meaningful work.