There have been many notable books and articles written, popular speakers on the circuit, and workshops being held that speak to the importance of creating a purpose-driven business. In fact, purpose in business lies at the core of my book Shift, and our workshops and coaching. But why really is purpose so important? And what truly is the difference between businesses of people who feel a visceral connection with the values of a company, and those that don’t?
The answer is not immediately obvious. Or at least it’s not given much consideration because it requires that we use a kind of language that is not considered business-like.
The answer is energy. Not necessarily the kind of energy that people have in the form of enthusiasm for their work, and yet cultivating a purpose-driven business will most assuredly engender enthusiasm. It’s not necessarily the energy that customers will put toward a purpose-driven business, and yet that will follow as well. The energy I’m speaking to is the energy that lies underneath our words and actions.
Imagine an old school CEO who has had it deeply engrained in his process that his number one job is to deliver profits to shareholders, and that all other objectives take a back seat. Then this CEO reads a couple of books on purpose-driven business and hires a coach to help him infuse more purpose into his business.
If this CEO follows a linear path along the lines of a list of steps to take to deepen the purpose of his company, it is not likely that he will move the needle very much. This is because the real reason for infusing purpose into business is to enliven the business to an energy that flows from altruistic passions, and this cannot be accomplished through a linear thought process.
If a book or coach tells me to focus on the “why,” this is great advice, but I can’t think my way into coming from the “why.” I have to feel my way into it, which is where the energy begins to shift. If I say to you that my product is really going to help you, while in the back of my mind I’m thinking about how much profit I will make from the sale, that is a very different energy than both saying and feeling that my product will truly be helpful to you.
In business we tend not to talk about intangible concepts like the energy behind our words and actions. In most circles of business it would be considered weird. And yet best selling books are hitting the market all the time that speak to the importance of purpose in business. But if we endeavor to follow the steps to purpose as a linear process we will not be nearly as effective as if we focus our attention on the energy that those steps carry, and seek to discover how we can embody the energy of those steps in all that we do.
Following a linear process is intellectually based. Infusing a passion for altruism into all we say and do is heart based. Being purpose driven and deepening the culture of an organization is about enlivening the spirit of a company behind an aligned vision of being in service and doing good. And … this is energy.