Elizabeth Zott in Lessons in Chemistry lived her purpose, no matter what.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, "roughly 85% of 1,000 U.S. professionals polled in a new LinkedIn survey say they are thinking about changing jobs this year, up from 67% a year earlier." WOW! In the past, that percentage has hovered between 50-60%.
Those employees, who are a critical resource in their firm, are obviously not inspired by their work or the benefits they're receiving. The firms themselves are losing an important competitive advantage when their people aren't engaged or motivated in a common purpose. What is that purpose and why isn't it inspiring employees?
Definition of Purpose
Merriam Webster defines purpose as the reason why something is done or used, the aim or intention of something. Purpose encompasses a range of aspirations, from a grand reason for living to narrow objectives. Purpose is used interchangeably with the terms aim, target, goal, and intention.
There is a human need for purpose. In Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl, Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, discovered that purpose gives people a will to stay alive. He reports, "Man actually needs the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him." Kenneth Thomas, in Intrinsic Motivation at Work, says, "We seem to need to see ourselves as going somewhere — as being on a journey in pursuit of a significant purpose.
What Is Core Purpose?
"Core purpose is the organization's fundamental reason for being. An effective purpose reflects the importance people attach to the company's work. It captures the soul of the organization," say James Collins and Jerry Porras in Built to Last. "Purpose should not be confused with specific goals or business strategies. Whereas you might achieve a goal or complete a strategy, you cannot fulfill a purpose; it is like a guiding star on the horizon — forever pursued, but never reached."
Purpose is the WHY a firm exists. It's not simply to make money or to increase shareholder value. Those are important goals but not the purpose. Consider these organizational examples of core purpose:
Disney - Make people happy
U.S. Health and Human Services Department - Improve the health, safety, and well-being of Americans
3M Company - Solve unsolved problems innovatively
Girl Scouts - Build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place
|State of Colorado, Office of Information Technology - Together we enhance the lives of all Coloradans
Radish Systems, the technology venture I co-founded with Richard A. Davis, has an important purpose: to fundamentally improve the way people communicate with businesses. Learn more.
My Story. I am a catalyst in helping organizations and leaders contribute and deliver extraordinary results. I have led firms, both large and small, in public and private sector, and their leaders in their strategic thinking process. The result is clarity on values, vision, purpose as well as a 1-page strategic plan. Think of me and let me help you define and deliver results toward your core purpose.
Purpose Improves Business Performance
"A key role of core purpose is to guide and inspire," say Collins and Porras. When a firm has an inspiring purpose, people are drawn to work for the firm. The best and the brightest want to be involved. Rather than be itchy to leave, they want to stay, be engaged, and contribute to their fullest. People get a sense of meaningfulness from their work. According to Kenneth Thomas, work that delivers a high level of choice, competency, progress, and meaningfulness leads to intrinsic motivation which leads to high levels of engagement, fun, retention, and results.
A participant in my Pursuit of Passionate Purpose research study, Don Vanlandingham, the retired chairman and CEO of Ball Aerospace, said, "Ball Aerospace combines meaningful work with passionate people. A lot of our people would work even if we didn't pay them." What Don was saying is that Ball's purpose made a positive difference on Ball's culture and inspired their people.
Why Passionate Purpose?
Opportunities surround us, but you must open your eyes to see them. When preparation meets opportunities, you will find your purpose. When you align that purpose with your passion, you will find your passionate purpose. A passionate purpose is a goal or intention pursued with great enthusiasm, interest, zeal, and/or passion. The conclusion of my research, published in Pursuit of Passionate Purpose, is: "The pursuit of passionate purpose, as well as its attainment, and connections along the way bring the real rewards of life."
Practical Pointers for Purpose — Organizations and Individuals
PREPARE. Purpose comes when preparation meets the possibilities. Nurture yourself and your passions by continuing to learn, grow, and trying new things. Do things that will build your true self. Be action-oriented.
ASK WHY. Consider using the Five Why Method to know your purpose and why to pursue it.
ASK HOW. How does pursuing this purpose bring meaning to your life?
|COMMIT TO YOUR PURPOSE.
Purpose is the fundamental reason for being. As Viktor Frankl states, "There is a human need for purpose." Both organizations and individuals have a "why they exist." Prepare, ask why, ask how, get clear, and commit to your purpose!
copyright 2024 Theresa Szczurek, all rights reserved.