Mike Clark's Business Bites: The Power of Purpose

Mike Clark's Business Bites: The Power of Purpose

In 1995 I watched a rugby match unite a divided nation. Born in Zimbabwe, I experienced the tension in South Africa. It was palatable even across an international border. When South Africa miraculously avoided war and Nelson Mandela came to power the country was divided along so many lines.

The iconic picture of Mandela in a Springbok jersey presenting the Webb Ellis Trophy to South Africa’s captain, Francois Pienaar, signifies so much more than a match won. It gave a country hope.

Following my article last week I wanted to explore the power of purpose more.

There are so many examples, and yet I will go back to the fields of international rugby. The setting being the rugby fields of Japan and the tournament, the 2019 World Cup. I am a passionate, die-hard All Blacks fan. I was gutted we were not playing in the final and yet I watched in awe as the Springboks crushed the favoured English. Not only did they win so convincingly but they were also the first team to win a World Cup having lost a game in the qualifying rounds. What was their driving force?

Coach Rassie Erasmus said the pool-stage loss to the All Blacks taught them a lot. “We started talking about pressure. In South Africa, pressure is not having a job. Pressure is one of your close relatives murdered. Because South Africa has a lot of problems and we started talking about how rugby shouldn’t be something that puts pressure on you.

“It should be something that creates hope. But you can’t create hope just by talking about it, hope is not something you say in a beautiful tweet.

“Hope is when you play well. Hope is when people watch the game on a Saturday, and they have a barbecue, and they feel good about themselves, and no matter your political differences, or your belief differences, for those 80 minutes you all agree.

“It is not our responsibility as players to create that hope, it is our privilege.”

Is it a privilege to work in your organisation? Does your purpose for being bring the best out of you, inspire you and give you drive? Quite often business owners fall into being a business owner. Sometimes we have no other options so we go out on our own, or we feel we can do better than our current boss, or an opportunity presents itself and we think, “why not? that looks doable”. Sometimes companies are inherited.

Whatever got you into business there is often a driving force in providing for your family and/or not having any alternative. As time moves on and you gather people around you it helps to have a clear purpose that the whole team can relate to as they face the challenges of running a business.

What keeps you working so hard? What impact are you making beyond the creation of a product or service? How are lives improved because of what you, your company and your people do? This can often be a good starting point for uncovering your purpose. It takes work. It requires focused effort and demands rigorous wrestling. It is worth it. The answer can unlock passion, belief, commitment and loyalty unlike almost anything else.

• Mike Clark is director, lead trainer and facilitator at Think Right business training company.

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