Having a purpose provides context for all of one’s efforts, and it’s a chief criterion for “flow” – the energy state that occurs when one’s mind, body, and entire being are committed to the task at hand. Flow turns mundane work into completely absorbing experiences, allowing us to push the limits of skills and talents.
Flow and commitment also create healthier, happier employees, while driving innovative thinking. To tap into full engagement, leaders must clearly identify and articulate what truly matters to the company:
- Why are we in business?
- What difference do we want to make in the world?
- What’s our most important purpose?
On some level, everyone wants to live a purposeful life, yet we are distracted by societal pressures to achieve wealth and prestige. There are indications, however, that this is changing. Just as GNP fails to reflect the well-being and satisfaction of a country’s citizens, a person’s net worth actually has little to do with personal fulfillment.
It is difficult to impossible to truly inspire the creators of customer happiness – the employees – with the ethic of profit maximization… It is my experience that employees can get very excited and inspired by a business that has an important business purpose.
– John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market
Leadership starts on a personal level and permeates one’s function in a company, community, and society. While countless books address the importance of finding personal purpose, how does it play out within an organizational context? How do you link your personal purpose and values to those of your company?
It may seem that parts of your job are mundane and insignificant. Perhaps your organization hasn’t articulated their purpose, vision, and values clearly enough. I see this happen frequently in the organizations where I’m called on to contribute workshops or coaching.