Image by Hugh MacLeod – Gaping Void – If you don’t know about Hugh you’ve been asleep!
Lots of business owners sit around the office tinkering with the notion of that one great innovation to be patented on the road to riches. Well, I think we’ve all got a patent in us but, for many, that patent remains forever pending. The patent I’m referring to is the “purpose patent” – your personal connection to work the serves a deeper purpose. That patent doesn’t need approval from the USPTO, it only needs approval from you.
I firmly believe that one of the foundational secrets to success in business is to invent, discover, and connect what we are doing with a sense of purpose that drives the entire enterprise. You’ve certainly heard many people talk about the idea of doing work you love, but this is more than that. I’m suggesting that you must connect with some reason beyond the fact you enjoy the work, that you must be able to feel a greater sense of value that drives your entire strategy and filters your decisions at the highest level.
Now, I’m not talking about greater good, higher purpose or mission in a strictly altruistic or spiritual context – although for some that may be the case. I’m talking about understanding the full extent of the value your business brings to customers, providers and staff and hooking on to that as reason for doing the day to day work that makes it all possible.
Frankly, as Hugh’s cartoon states emphatically, life is too short, but you could just as easily (or cynically) conclude that life’s too long not to do something that matters. But, how it matters and to whom it matters, is what you’ve got to come to understand.
In my book The Referral Engine I go as far as making this notion one of the required steps in building an authentic marketing strategy. . .
“There are three ingredients necessary for a rewarding and successful business experience: You must enjoy what you do and feel a sense of purpose; you must be good at what you do; and you must be able to convince other people to pay you for what you do. I’ve met some very happy business people who seem to have the first two in abundance, but who can’t quite figure out how to monetize them. But I’ve rarely come across a truly successful business owner who is happy making lots of money doing something they are good at without a deep-seated sense of purpose.
There is no way around it, really. Businesses that get talked about are driven by a higher purpose, one formed by a passionate owner or by a passionate team mission.”
Here are 5 books that will help you in the quest to find more meaning in your work:
- Career Renegade – Jonathan Fields
- REWORK – Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
- Escape From Cubicle Nation – Pam Slim
- Linchpin – Seth Godin
- The Big Leap – Gay Hendricks