People Playing Together: A Worthy and Inspiring Purpose

There is within each of us an inborn need for our lifetime pursuits to have meaning and value – to serve some greater purpose [1]. If we do not have some sense of a meaningful purpose in our lives, we can feel adrift, uncertain of our direction, or worse yet, uncaring. When that greater purpose is known to us, and even more importantly, felt by us, it provides both the driving force and the guiding star that inspires us to excellence.

Exceptional companies, just like exceptional people, often have a clear and meaningful sense of purpose [2]. Companies are, after all, nothing more than a group of people that have chosen to combine their efforts for some shared purpose. In some companies, the only articulated (or implied) purpose is to maximize profits, or increase shareholder equity. However, those companies that have withstood the test of time, understand that:

“Profitability is a necessary condition for existence and a means to more important ends, but it is not the end in itself…Profit is like oxygen, food, water, and blood for the body; they are not the point of life, but without them, there is no life.” [3]

Now, I’m not saying that profit isn’t important, because it is. But for most people, after the stack of bananas is higher than we can eat, the need for more bananas just for the sake of seeing how high we can pile them begins to lose some of its motivational force. As one of my esteemed co-workers pointed out, “We all as people want our labor to have worth beyond the purely financial…” [4]

So, if profitability isn’t the greater purpose that we serve, then what worth, beyond the purely financial, does our labor hold? What is the greater purpose that provides meaning, inspiration, and guidance to our pursuits? If not to just make money, then what is our purpose for existence? What is it that we do?

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