Someone I greatly respect cautioned me recently not to use the terms “meaningful” or “purposeful”.
“Business leaders won’t get it,” he warned. “They’ll think it’s flaky.”
I don’t believe that. Not any more.
This pandemic has fundamentally changed how we work and live. It’s stripped away a lot of the artificial veneer, and exposed what truly matters to us. Those of us who work from home now bring our whole selves to work within a space filled with the images and sounds of our personal lives. It’s an intimate glimpse into who we really are.
As someone who began her career in the days when women dressed in suits and silk ties and spoke in sports metaphors in an effort to fit in with men, I so appreciate that we can now be our real selves.
It’s more than just surface level though. Our true selves run deep. And if you are willing to delve deep enough, at the very core of who you are lies your raison d’être: your purpose for being.
And that’s not “flaky”. Or pie in the sky.
The global consulting firm McKinsey recently completed research that shows definitively that organizations benefit greatly when they allow their employees to do work that is “purposeful” to them. Employees who “live their purpose at work” are four times more likely to report higher engagement levels. Their well-being is five times higher; they’re more productive and outperform their peers.
McKinsey’s research even finds a positive correlation between the purposefulness of employees and the company’s EBITDA margin. Given the intersection it sees between organizational purpose and individual purpose, it’s counselling its CEO clients “to make purpose a tangible part of people’s jobs”.
Cynics would doubt McKinsey’s motives, given it’s fresh on the heels of paying a $573 million fine for its role in “working for opioid companies, helping those companies promote their drugs, and profiting millions of dollars from the opioid epidemic”.
Some could even see it as penance for their sins.
Whatever their reason, I for one am grateful to have a global enterprise advocate for purposeful work.
I am privileged to see what happens when individuals illuminate what is most meaningful to them. The certainty of knowing dissolves and transcends any limiting beliefs they may have of what can or should be, and propels them to create it. I marvel at how they are able to express what doesn’t yet exist, and act with such alacrity, focus and purposeful precision to ignite it.
It’s extraordinary to behold. And it comes when what you do is perfectly aligned with who you be.
Imagine if we could all work like this.