This is me on the 31st of December 2010. It was the last day of a six-month sabbatical in beautiful Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. I’d just typed the last word of a 68,000-word manuscript which would later become my travel memoir, Unstuck in Provence.
This sabbatical came at the end of a 20-year corporate career at Westpac and Merrill Lynch followed by 10 years in my own marketing business. At the time, I was burnt out and needed time out to recharge and explore the options for my future livelihood.
In 2011, I returned to live in Melbourne absolutely none the wiser when my friend Amy recommended I read Firms of Endearment; how world-class companies profit from passion and purpose. Twenty pages in, I had a seismic shift in consciousness and I understood inherently that the future of our world would lay with leaders who are committed to driving their companies to a Purpose beyond profit. From that moment on, I studied everything I could on the subject of Purpose in the workplace.
And rather than just ‘learn by studying’, I chose to ‘learn through doing’. I took on many projects to test my path to Purpose which included a year at a not-for-profit, leading the Conscious Capitalism community in Victoria, becoming a certified B Corp, publishing Unstuck in Provence and Conscious Marketing, building (and later selling) my business school and many other projects.
Then last year, I published The Purpose Project. It’s the roadmap I wish I’d had when I first started on my adventure in 2010. What I’ve learnt over the years, is that we don’t actually find our purpose but that we create it and build it by taking on projects and by testing and experimenting. I’ve learnt that action always precedes clarity of Purpose and that it can be created right where we are at work, starting now. (I learnt that I didn’t need to run away to France to find it!)
In 2011, the business world wasn’t quite ready for Purpose. Today however, Purpose has become mainstream and it’s widely acknowledged that we now live in the Purpose Economy. I knew that for certain when earlier this year Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock (the largest asset manager in the world), sent a letter to global CEO’s everywhere. The letter was entitled “A Sense of Purpose” and in it he stated:
“Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential. It will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders.”
While today’s leaders require agility and the know-how to navigate today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, what they need most is both a north-star and an anchor, a reason to exist beyond profit, and not just for their organization but for their own work lives too. Purpose is that thing to return to time and time again when the important decisions must be made and as the foundation for a thriving, happy workplace.
So, I’m stepping boldly forward and declaring 2019 The Year of Purpose. I’m on a mission to be the steward of purpose for leaders with the deep desire to create it and bring it to life personally and for their company. And I’m ready to support those leaders now so they can start 2019 with a clear way forward.
Where does Purpose fit in to your 2019 agenda? Perhaps it starts with an end-of-year or early-new-year Deep Dinner with your leadership team, having me speak at your new year event or attending one of my Purpose @ Work Leadership events?
If not you, who? If not now, when?