With regard to the title of this post, this notion of purpose and its value was made even clearer to me last week in Singapore.
On the 50-something floor of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, I met a successful finance industry professional.
Successful, that is, professionally.
Personally, the chap was a mess.
Two divorces, and making millions with no purpose whatsover.
His companion for the evening was of the paid variety.
He told me this, apropos of nothing, yet insisted he was happy.
I felt sorry for the guy.
I haven’t got his cash, but I’m not sure I’d want it, if it meant being him.
Rich and unhappy without purpose doesn’t sound like much fun.
I’d rather just be doing OK with a reason.
It reminded me of recent conversations about the value of purpose in people, but also for companies.
It’s surely as important for a company to have a stated reason to exist, as it is for a person to have some kind of goals to try and achieve.
A reason to go on beyond just living, even as comfortably as the finance guy that I met recently.
Why then, do so few companies have any kind of purpose?
Many don’t, beyond ‘serving customers’ and ‘delivering returns for investors’.
I’d argue that’s just not enough any more.
The leading companies all should have a mission that’s linked heavily to sustainability.
Some do, some don’t. Everyone does it differently.
But very few, even the ‘leaders’, are particularly clear about it.
I think that’s a mistake.
If we want to change the world, we need to be much clearer about what we want to see, our role in it, and the values we’ll use to get there.
Here’s a brief presentation with some examples. It’s linked here, and embedded below.