There is a fine distinction that organizations must understand in order for a truly powerful purpose to emerge. Because of that, I find myself saying these things to the organizations that I work with:
- You don’t invent a purpose
- You don’t find a purpose
- You don’t discover a purpose
- You don’t design a purpose
- You don’t adopt a purpose
Your powerful purpose (or Big Audacious Meaning as I call it) is already part of who you are. It comes from the DNA of your organization. It’s not something you trump up. It is inherent to who you are.
Patagonia is a great example. Their purpose can be traced back to when Yvon Chouinard founded the business with a belief that he could have an environmental focus and still do well. Today the organization pursues the balance of building the best product while inspiring solutions to the environmental crisis. It’s in everything they say and do at Patagonia. Because of that original purpose, Patagonia has been able to consistently pursue the ideals and be impressively successful.
Notice that Chouinard didn’t decide to invent a purpose. It came from his own personal convictions. Convictions aimed a making a difference in the world.
But in order to have this kind of success and impact, organizations must be clear on their purpose. In other words, the organization must clarify that critically fundamental ideal. It’s not about inventing, discovering, or adopting. It’s about clarifying that Big Audacious Meaning.
I have developed a process to help organizations clarify a purpose. It involves a formula that provides the framework — a crucial element that keeps the process from meandering off in countless directions. The framework also makes this feel tangible and like it is something worth investing time in. It felt important to have this kind of structure if we were going to have a valid method for this ‘clarifying’ process.
I have to admit, in my determinedness to have this feel tangible and valid, I may have been discounting the magic that happens when an organization actually goes through the process. That’s why I got excited when I heard someone describe this as an ‘awakening’.
Awakening is such a descriptive word that captures so much of what goes on. A company awakens that dormant purpose — which speaks to the crucial point that this is not something new that you invent. And then the organization itself awakens as it discovers everything that purpose can do. From energizing every team member to inspiring customers and prospects. To even creating a movement that could have world-changing implications.
Who doesn’t want to be part of an awakening? An awakening is about new energy and, most importantly, enlightenment. It can be felt physically, intellectually, emotionally, and even spiritually. That’s inspiring. Which is exactly what a purpose should do for an organization.
Every organization deserves that. To have a purpose. To experience the awakening.
Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.
Originally published at www.dansalva.com.