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October 26, 2017

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Phil’s Corner: “Higher Purpose” – A Prelude

March 11, 2016

The first entry in the “Phil’s Corner” series talked of a world undergoing transformational change, and the fact that successful enterprises can no longer prosper in isolation from those changes. I believe that fulfilling an organization’s role and potential within this changing world means embracing and understanding key dynamics driving this transformation.

 

The first of those dynamics is the arrival of “higher purpose” as table stakes for a successful enterprise. The days are gone where companies could be about nothing more than selling good products or services and making money. Customer, employee, shareholder, and community support emanate from creating an organization that stands for something bigger.

 

I am certainly not the first person to make this observation. The importance of purpose or mission has been well documented in the world of human psychology, where it has been linked to fundamental human happiness. The same is true for businesses and other organizations. The great work of Simon SinekBob Quinn, and many others have brought this topic to the fore. And, this shift is further evident in the widespread recognition companies receive today for standing for more – including Fortune decision, in 2015, to launch a “Change the World list: Companies that are doing well by doing good.”

 

So why am I talking about “finding purpose” now? I suppose in part that this reflects my current stage of life. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest who heads the Center for Action and Contemplation, talks about how we spend the first half of life developing identity and boundaries – an ego structure – and in the second half, the ego serves as a grounding to find a “deeper source of purpose.” As I am now definitively in the second half of life, with grown kids and a degree of personal comfort and security, focusing more on my personal mission and trying to inject a degree of service into the way I live is probably natural.

 

In thinking about the role of “purpose” in the lives of individuals and organizations, I have come to the realization that this topic is multi-dimensional, and needs to be covered in a series of short episodes. I also realize that, for it to have meaning, I need to be prepared to talk about my personal efforts at finding purpose, and how that has an impact in my life.

 

To that end, in this entry I will give you a preview of how I plan to cover the topic, and then I will leave it to subsequent entries to actually tackle the issue. My promise (or perhaps threat) is that I will try to share those entries in relatively quick succession, so we can move on to other dynamics driving our world and central to an organization’s ability to innovate, grow, and realize its potential.

 

So, here are dimensions of “purpose” about which I plan to share my perspective:

  1. What is “purpose”, and what does it mean to individuals like you and me? If it’s okay with all of you, I’ll bring in some of my personal “purpose” journey into the conversation.

  2. Why is such a touchy-feely topic important to enterprises, especially those trying to innovate and grow?

  3. How do you actually use “purpose” to make an enterprise more successful, and how do you bring it to life for your owners, employees, customers, and the community around you to see?

 So, stay tuned. I’ll be back in a week or so with at least Part 1.

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