Your Purpose Is Your Superpower

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Your prupose is your superpower

The average employee spends approximately 115,000 hours on the job. That means they will work, around the clock, for over 13 years of their lives.

Add sleep, eating, and walking the dog, and there goes the remainder of their life’s time. You can pretty much see how the concept of ‘work/life balance’ is a bunch of hoo-ha. The dog has it easier.

That’s why purpose is more important than ever.

In an April 2020 study (the pandemic was as new as a baby’s bottom, and just as unpredictable), McKinsey states that only 7% of Fortune 500 CEO’s believe their companies should focus mainly on profits and not be distracted by social goals. I think they said that while on their way to the Milton Friedman Golf Classic.

Today, after the Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting and ActYourWage movement, I’m hoping that a light went off in their Masters of the Universe noggins and they realized that without instilling a sense of purpose in their companies, the only people left to do the work will be, well, them.

First, let’s dismiss the skeptics that equate “purpose” with ‘kumbaya’. These are just two of many studies that point to the tangible impact of purpose.

A Harvard Business Review study found that companies that were laggards in establishing purpose experienced slow growth or contraction.

BAIN discovered that companies whose employees were inspired by the company’s purpose were twice as productive as the ones working at companies whose purpose was non-existent. (YES! There are 2 charts on our website to datafy this. Go to fundamentalbrand.com)

So. Which is it? Chicken or the egg? Does a well-articulated and authentic purpose draw customers, or does it make employees enjoy the work, and therefore, have a greater sense of accomplishment, leading to higher productivity?

Does it matter?

But Wait! There’s Less! All this urgency towards purpose creation does not mean that the golfing CEOs should drop their clubs, run to the clubhouse and decide to support digging wells in drought-damaged communities, which could very well be just a mile from the golf course. It means that every company’s purpose should emerge from the thing they make, do or know better than anyone else and that their customer cares about. An authentic purpose means that the company actually might be able to access some expertise and contribute to the betterment of the society that they need to continue to run smoothly – so they can keep making money.

“Employees are agitating for decisions and behaviors that they can be proud to stand behind and gravitating toward companies that have a clear, unequivocal, and positive impact on the world.”

Purpose is the plot of your brand story.

It’s the emotional core and driver of the plot. It helps audience identify with the hero and cheer them on. Bruce Wayne’s parents were brutally murdered in front of his eyes, and so the rest of his life is devoted to fighting the same criminal element in his beloved Gotham. The Bat Suit is a nice touch.

Without purpose, Luke Skywalker will never join the rebellion, and Katniss Everdeen  doesn’t compete in the Hunger Games. These plots count on Luke’s mysterious pull towards the Force, and Katniss’ desire to protect her sister and family.

Think of purpose as the heart of the story, and plot as it’s rational, structural brain. The muscle, nerves, flesh and bones are the characters, setting, dialog, conflict, complications, solutions, and this formula relates directly to how companies discover purpose and make it actionable. 

Your company’s purpose is the underpinning of your company’s position, identity and story. It has to be authentic to your past and to your future. It has to live in the long shadow of the founder, and what they intended their product or service would do for their customers, and if successful, what the positive result is on the community they do business in.

Your purpose creates an economy of thought and focuses the leadership by reducing their choices. It tells you which initiatives are not in sync with your purpose and should be abandoned, and which ones are copacetic and should be embraced.

“Is what, your company’s superpower? Therein, purpose lies.”

You discover and justify your purpose by understanding what you do best. Identifying your purpose around your unique assets (“Use the Force, Luke) is key to expressing your purpose and executing on it. Are you masters at supply chain? Then deliver help to places that need it. Are you making the workplace better? Then lobby politicians for better wages and more rights at work and be the best company in the country to work for.  Are you an ERP system? Then teach the next generation about money and how to manage it. Take what you know and make it more important than what you make. When your purpose is authentic to what you do, even the most skeptical stakeholders will shrug their shoulders and say, “Yeah, that makes sense.”  Then they say, “FORE!”

The role of a leader is to inspire others. Rousing and compelling stories is how they do it. But rousing and compelling stories need exciting plots, and exciting plots need a deeply felt purpose. 

How has purpose impacted your company? Tell us in the comments.

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