Redefining business with purpose – Part 2

This is Part 2 of a 3 part series. Read Part 1 here.

Think back if you can to when you first started your career…

When we first leave school, start a career or business, we feel unstoppable. We believe we can become anything. We’re empowered to live our dream. Whatever success looked like to you – it’s likely you wanted to be and do something that mattered. With fire in your guts you surge ahead, embracing all the possibilities for your future.

We all want to leave a legacy of some kind, or if not a legacy, at least something positive in our wake. We start out striving for betterment – a better way to serve, a more useful product, better solutions, a better connection, or maybe just simply striving for our own betterment every day.

Then somewhere along the way, it becomes harder. Maybe you can picture that time for you…

Over the years, our definition of success becomes shaped by the world we live in. A world that says we can never do enough or be enough. It can feel like we need to choose between ‘success’ and fulfilment. We’re asked to compromise our values, and sometimes our identity in business in order to meet this warped version of success. One person at home, a different person at work. Because of this, our business, or our career, can sometimes begin to feel like a relentless pursuit, until sometimes we can’t even remember what we’re chasing any more.

Maybe we keep contributing to this outdated form of capitalism, chasing ‘success’ at any cost. Or maybe we believe in and create something better.

Every company is made up of people on a journey that they want to matter, and the people you serve (your customers) want their journey to matter. Just like every person, every company has a story inside of them. A collective voice. A purpose that has the power to guide them towards something that transcends success.

Purpose moves us towards meaning, drive, passion and fulfilment. It’s the origin of collaboration, contribution, innovation, growth and a positive future.

If we want these things for ourselves and our companies, then we need to be guided by something more than profit or the next paycheque. We need to dig deep and find the belief, empathy and capacity to forge a different path. We can write our own story as a business, create our future, and stop chasing a broken model of success.

“Today the average person has more access to any information, at any time, any place on any subject for free, than the richest billionaire did twenty years ago. The level of connectivity is unprecedented.” – Raj Sisiodia, founder of Conscious Capitalism

The old way doesn’t work anymore. It may have worked for the Industrial Age where speed and efficiency were the most important selling propositions. But in the human age we are in (or the Age of Transcendence as its been labelled), with transparency and change like never before, authenticity and positive impact are the new selling propositions. What has worked in the past will not work in the future.

Companies all over the world have realised this, and are redefining reality in business and shaping cultures that embrace and elevate humanity. Cultures united in purpose to innovate and grow forward together. I’ve spent the last twelve months talking with people on our podcast who are forging this change and embedding purpose in their companies:

Organisations like Thank You, who have built their business from their purpose-up, and give 100% of their profits towards ending global poverty. But what I found most fascinating about them is that they’ve managed to unite people across the world, and build so much meaning into their business that they have customers fiercely advocating in their own time to bring more Thank You products to shelves. They’ve grown at a rapid rate, because they are an avenue to meaning. They’re not just changing poverty, they’re creating fulfilled humans in the process.

Marque Lawyers in Sydney proudly state that ‘All the time in the world doesn’t matter to us, we’re not counting.’ They started with the conviction that law, as it is practised, is dysfunctional and has become mired in cynicism, and set out with a purpose to completely change the traditional model for the wellbeing of their people and their clients. Most notably, they opted out of the traditional six-minute increment billing routine, and instead focussed on bringing fair value to their clients through fixed fees. A law firm that values connection more than fees, who knew?

Then there are companies like LUSH cosmetics, whose skincare products are all ethically and naturally made. Their business serves as a platform to activate for environmental, human and animal rights. Employees are encouraged to be themselves authentically and stand up for the things that matter to them. So strong is their advocacy among customers that they continue to grow without any above or below the line marketing. Instead, their success has come from really listening to and understanding their customers.

So how do you begin to embed more meaning into your organisation? Firstly it takes guts. It takes vulnerability, persistence and a healthy relationship with failure. Purpose is not a silver bullet, and it’s not a tactic. It’s not fluff and it’s definitely not the easy way out.

Are you ready?

Want more? Read Part 3 here.

This is an excerpt from what Nikki shared at the Think. Learn. Connect. Event in May 2017.

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