Your purpose is not enough

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I once set about finding my purpose, and good news! I found it!

It took being challenged to do so by several leadership coaches and MBA lecturers over several years. Then, it came down to an “ah ha” moment when I realised my purpose was what I’d enjoyed doing all along:

Make a positive difference in people’s lives

Isn’t that noble. It’s so noble that, even in our contemporary ‘purpose driven’ world, going around saying I started a business “so I can make a positive difference in people’s lives”, can draw a degree of cynicism. Thank you snake oil salesmen.

But there’s more. I decided that my own purpose wasn’t enough for a business. As an individual, keeping things at a ‘people’ level is fine; as I’m only one person. However, organisations can set their sights much higher. So, the bar for ToBe Advisory is higher: ‘Make the world a better place

You may be thinking, isn’t that a bit broad. That what one person considers ‘better’ is different to the next; both of which may be different to what it means to me? Well, you’re correct. I could tighten the scope to make it more specific; yet when I do that it no longer feels right. So that solution isn’t the one for me. There are also commercial realities. Making a profit is not just important for growth, it’s crucial for survival; and money doesn’t just fall out of the sky because of a noble purpose (just ask the CEO of any not-for-profit!).

That’s my challenge though. Your challenge is how to ensure your business achieves its purpose and its commercial objectives. The trick is in execution. Afterall, it’s not what you say that matters, and not just what you do that matters, it’s how that’s most important. Doing things for good reason is well and good, but some things done in certain ways, or places, could get you arrested (that’s bad!) or just be unprofitable (better, but still bad).

Business purpose and personal purpose coalesce with commercial reality and form your strategy. You much align your activities and methods with these during excution. Then you can acheive purpose aligned profit as an outcome.

It’s your choice if your business’ purpose is the same, bigger or smaller than your personal purpose, it doesn’t really matter so long as they align. Then, it’s about aligning business’ activities and methods with that purpose. Alignment takes dedicated thought and effort; and way more words to explain; so is something I’m happy to discuss if you contact me.


This article was first published for Michael Watts, Director and Founder of ToBe Advisory, on WA Leaders

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