Back in February, I wrote a short piece about the importance of developing a purpose behind what you do. I explained that this was just a feeling that you may have that what you are doing and the reasons behind why you are doing it are empathic – a feeling.
These purpose feelings are the reason why you spring out of bed in the morning.
Over the past few months, I have been exploring purpose and how I can become more deliberate in the actions that I take in developing my business(s), ideas and creativity. Over the past few days, a few conversations and interventions have helped me take one step closer.
I was recently been described as a ‘giver’ on a podcast, by someone that I have huge respect for. This was grounding in itself, but encouraged me to think deeper about why I do this (there we go, the why question about purpose again!). The reason why is a simple, but complex mash up of different understandings.
- to be able to encourage people / contacts / clients to be a better them, whatever better is for them. This has always been a driver for me.
- to encourage a sustainable workplace and business. This is and was the bombshell moment. Despite starting to explore this back in 2022, sustainable means something more than doing stuff with an ecological output in mind.
A sustainable business is about ensuring that the ethics and motivations in what I do are aligned with ‘doing good’. Ok, this is subjective I know. ‘Doing good’ in my mind is about community welfare, prosperity, and good health.
Purpose in Community
A few years ago, I was involved in a tech startup with a good friend. Our purpose was built on the understanding that we can do more together – something that we celebrated through a ‘manifesto’. Some of the activities have had a wider impact to some of those that we worked with. I have fond memories of a workshop with some six formers who designed a new business built around an extreme sports mermaid outfit. The kicker – they also designed a social cause to utilise the research for this new extreme sport, to benefit people with mobility issues. Although it is unlikely that this concept has come to fruition – I celebrated that the concept included both a performance business objective, and some give back to the community.
Purpose in Driving Prosperity
The line between a profitable business and a failed business can be a very fine line. Decisions taken by business leaders can make or break companies. In 2007, the businessman, Gerald Ratner commented on the poor quality of some of the products that it sold. The ensuing ruckus led to many customers to keep their distance from Ratner’s shops for a while. Following his speech, the Ratner group’s worth took quite a hit, dropping by about £500 million – it was a close call and the group almost folded. Ratner’s comments are a friendly reminder to all CEOs about the importance of thinking before speaking.
This simple example indicates a precipitous response to an unconscious (or disconnected) comment made and highlights the importance for all to understand the consequences of their actions.
Future prosperity, therefore, includes financial qualification and also impacts to the community and ecology. There is little benefit to running a profitable business, if one is also destroying the perception of the business or environment around us.
Conscious decisions lead to conscious outcomes.
Purpose in Encouraging Good Health
The simplest of links is about one’s own health, but when we delve deeper, the health of a business is key. Just as one’s own health, if we take steps to nurture it by eating the correct foods and taking appropriate exercise, we stand a chance of remaining healthier for longer.
Taking this analogy to business, we should ensure that we nurture the correct processes, apply stretch and take action towards achieving our goals. Just as when pushing exercise for our own bodies, pushing the boundaries in the business can also be challenging.
Although not explicit, focusing on these three elements (and there are of course more), helps us to
- Have Increased Focus: As we understand our purpose we get a clear sense of direction. It allows us to concentrate our energies on what truly matters, thus increasing our focus. Whether you’re studying, working, or pursuing a hobby, having a purpose acts as a ‘compass’, guiding you towards your goal and reducing distractions along the way.
- Have improved Performance: A sense of purpose serves as a powerful motivator. When we are passionate about what we do and understand its value, we’re likely to put in more effort, improving our performance. In the workplace, this can lead to higher productivity, better quality of work, and greater satisfaction.
- Increase our resilience in the face of Challenges: Purpose gives us the strength to persist in the face of adversity. It instills a sense of resilience, helping us to navigate obstacles and setbacks, knowing that they are merely stepping stones toward achieving our ultimate goal.
- Encourages better and more informed decision-making: Purpose acts as a guiding principle when making decisions. It helps filter out irrelevant options and focuses our attention on choices that align with our purpose, leading to more effective and consistent decision-making.
- Enhance our well-being: Studies have shown that a strong sense of purpose can lead to better physical and mental health. It has been associated with lower stress levels, increased happiness, and even longevity.
Having thought and defined my purpose, I can now start to develop and adjust the businesses that I am involved in. It is not just about profit or cashflow, although these are pre-requisite. It is also about how your business, or the role that you perform helps you to maintain, nurture and grow your overall purpose.