The Happiness of Pursuit
I have borrowed the title of this blog from a book that I recently read during my incessant travel over the last couple of months. Chris Guillebeau, the author, explores the various quests that individuals undertake to bring purpose to their lives. He himself had this realization as he embarked on his pursuit to visit every country on Earth before he crossed 35 years of age. As I read about the travails of the questers (and of their subsequent elation as they attained their purpose) in the book, I reflected about myself and people around me.
A close friend who, like most other 30 something women steeped in her career, was focused purely on her work. Till she crossed paths with friends who introduced her to motorbikes. She not only bought herself a majestic bike, but within a couple of years started doing multi-city rides. Today her purpose of life revolves around biking, connecting with bikers and exploring the country (and possibly beyond later) on her bike.
When I recently met her, I realised the immense happiness she derives from this new found purpose in life. My business partner seems to have multiple quests in life – be it in working actively for causes that impact the society, or an exponent of music in all forms and shapes or being a die-hard learner. And each of these she passionately pursues. I realise that this gives meaning to her life.
Do I personally have such a purpose in life? I realized that my quests were short-lived at different points in life. When I started reflecting deeper, I was able to connect the dots. There is one purpose that has excited me often from the time of my undergraduate studies. Writing. During my days of pre and post-graduation, I was a voracious writer. I started writing letters-to-the-editor of newspapers / magazines of every hue and colour. In order to write these letters, I had to read a lot, since the topics segued from education to sports to politics and business.
The intellectual stimulation got me hooked onto this quest. Further on, I used to write – during my stint in industrial sales – in trade journals and industry magazines. Blogging offered me another break to continue with my quest. As my blog series (Random Ruminations) suggests, I currently blog on myriad topics with a certain linkage to people. I believe all this is leading to a greater purpose in my life – that of writing a book. I discovered that while Manik, my business partner, has myriad purposes and I focused on one, this shared purpose of writing a book has excited us both equally. As of now, I am unaware of the topic but the happiness in pursuing this purpose is quite fulfilling. I see this purpose having the potential to excite others in our organisation, as we build it.
It is quite intriguing to ponder upon how the purpose of the entrepreneur / leader can get translated into that of the organisation (as could be the case with us at Element78). This was noticed in the case of Steve Jobs’ passion to bring in innovation and design into his products. A purpose that was contagious enough for Apple to rally around quickly. In the case of not-for-profit organisations, the purpose is the reason why the team rallies together and forms an organisation. However, in the case of corporates, the situation is different.
What stops humans to have such higher purposes in corporate organisations. Organisations of this nature are driven by profits and hence the driving force of both the organisation and the employees is often deemed to be materialistic in nature. However, there are a few examples of organisations that have had their core purpose defined very differently. From “contributing to human welfare” to “helping to save lives around the world” on the one hand, to “safety of employees and stakeholders” and “being on-time, every time”. A well-defined purpose (beyond the obvious business objectives) gives greater meaning to employees as well as other stakeholders to remain engaged with the organisation productively.
It cements the relationship of individuals with the organisation and builds stronger teams. Evolving and setting such a purpose is quintessential for any contemporary leader to lead and develop his / her business strategy. Such a purpose will guide the organisation’s ethical and business framework on one hand and on the other will be an inspirational ‘lighthouse’ for its employees. Of course, having this purpose as a marketing gimmick will serve no purpose. It needs to be breathed, lived and experienced by all coming in contact with such organisations. Infusing this purpose in the team is a gargantuan task; people will align only when there is a confluence of beliefs.
The challenges are: how do we bring authenticity to building this purpose? Where does the passion come from? What is required to bring the confluence?
- The Team Effectiveness Mantra - March 14, 2019
- 3 Must-Have Managerial Dialogues to Engage & Develop Teams - November 14, 2018
- Why Managers Need to Understand Team Diversity - October 4, 2018
- Why Managers Need to Learn the Art of Conversations - August 8, 2018
- 6 Things Managers Can Do to Drive Employee Engagement - July 30, 2018
- The Happiness of Pursuit - October 10, 2017