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On Purpose: Why great leaders start with the PLOT by Karen James

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CHAPTER 2PURPOSE

In the words of Mark Twain, ‘The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why'.

The idea of purpose being at the heart of your life and organisation is not new. But experience and observation over 25 years shows me that where there is clear and meaningful purpose — backed with a cause — success follows.

Simply stated, having a compelling purpose defines your cause; why you exist. Purpose should have an effect on everything you do. It should be omnipresent.

It is tempting to consider purpose and meaning as pillars that are relevant only to the do-gooders of our world, the people who traditionally don't prioritise profit. These wonderful do-gooders, largely speaking, are the people who work for organisations defined by a cause. Nothing makes purpose clearer than a good dose of social injustice. So the people working to end injustice? Well, of course they have purpose and meaning.

It is easy to see how purpose is important for these organisations. Meaning oozes out of their every pore, so you would have to work hard not to connect with their purpose and meaning. Easy. But why, you might ask, is it so important for business, government, entrepreneurs and (dare I say) regulators to have a compelling purpose? Can purpose be made meaningful to the majority?

There is always meaning when you are doing the right thing by your constituents, whether you are working to deliver widgets, washing machines or water filtration. Meaning ...

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