A Search For Meaning: The Real Purpose for Business

I turn 47 in about 33 days. And I am genuinely amazed to find that I am no longer the youngest person in the group, within my company, or at many places to numerous to count, all with the exception of the golf course and jazz concerts.  On a side note, I am passionate about jazz music. I play the jazz guitar and I listen to jazz. Now whether it makes me antiquated or not, I listen to jazz musicians who have been dead for decades. The movie “La La Land,” suggests jazz music is an art form worth saving and building a wider following for, but, I digress. Lately, I am having to remind myself that I am the adult in the room. In my world growing up as an only child, I was always surrounded by adults, which means I was always the youngest person in the group. Now as I look around I see that this truth has evolved into something else, it has become clear that it’s my time, as an adult to step up, step out and step beyond.

Being good at what you do and delivering the results of what you’ve promised is no less than what is expected.  In fact, it’s the bare minimum. To be of true service lies beyond the spreadsheets, statistics, and big data. What we need is a conscious connection between what we want, who we are and who we are trying to become and how we parlay this into going beyond. This is what really counts in business.

Today’s inspired companies, are led by inspirational people who are inspired at every level. From the janitorial service to the new hire at the entry level to the CEO, CFO, GM and owner.  There are no breaks in the chain; engaged, connected, supportive and helpful in every way, every day. No breaks! Sir Richard Branson said it best, “business has to give people enriching, rewarding lives or it’s simply not worth doing.” This multi-billionaire understands what is needed.  He has always known that it’s about building relationships, based on the principles of integrity, caring, support, kindness and just being helpful. We teach our children these principles when they are young. We too learned these basic principles. And now more than ever, in this new emerging era these principles must be applied to, adults engaging in business. From the boardroom to the living room and everywhere else in between.  In short, this new era dictates that we as business leaders must choose to support our employees, our partners, our vendors and of course our clients, in becoming or evolving into the best versions of themselves. As we too, become the best version of who we are.

To truly succeed in the new market reality of digital communication, social media and whatever artificial intelligence becomes, we must become more human.  We cannot lose our humanity.  Technology is an amazing gift, if used as an augment for building relationships. Using it to replace fundamental principles found within relationships is ignoring the reality, that people are searching for meaning and purpose.  And that whoever helps them with this goal will win their trust and their business.

Building a successful business of course means making money. Believe me, creating wealth for myself is important to me. I also know, that we get what we want by helping others get what they want. And some of what they want is to belong to a group of people that they can trust, confide in and be protected by. They want to be able to live the life of their dreams, or probably more accurately, live the life they allow themselves to live. So, to add another layer, a great business with great leadership must also inspire people to be more than they allow themselves to be, or believe, and provide them with a safe environment to do that. That is inspired leadership. That is self-selected evolution. That is taking that step beyond.

John Mayer, a brilliant musician, said during a live performance, ‘that he hoped that he and his audience grew old together.’ This is part of my dream as too.  And as business leaders it’s about stepping out and beyond, raise up those coming behind us, creating a solid foundation so they can continue on the path towards a better life and therefore, create better businesses with humanity intact.

PS: Listen to Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans and Wes Montgomery. Go to New York and visit Smalls and the Village Vanguard. Also read Tom Peters new book, “The Excellence Dividend.”

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