THE BLOG
06/10/2014 03:23 pm ET | Updated Aug 10, 2014

Discovering Your Purpose

The two most important days in your life are the day you were born
and the day you find out why. - Mark Twain

Discovering your purpose is probably the most important work you'll do in your life and career. The same holds true for discovering a company purpose. It is essential to know why you do what you do. The purpose must be clear and communicated to everyone in a way that is understood so that everyone is on the same boat, so to speak.

Like building a house and putting down a strong foundation, having a clear purpose is the first foundation block to creating an Amazing Company.

A company is a system, just as an individual, a family, and even the Universe. When you know how to optimize the system, you bring the best into your world. A big part of this is in knowing why you exist. In the business world, it is the reason why the company exists.
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Companies who have done this work are able to communicate their purpose in a clear purpose statement. Here are a few examples from our model companies we feature in our international best selling book Engage!:

• TOMS Shoes--"One for one". it is a one-to-one movement; not a shoe.

• MindValley--"Pushing Humanity Forward". It is about optimizing human potential through personal development products and education.

• HCL Technologies--"Employees First, Customers Second". By putting the employees first, this has taken this global technology company to $4 billion in revenues in 3 years--and the primary focus has shifted to their people.

• Whole Foods--"Whole Food, Whole People, Whole Planet". They know that whole foods make whole people, which makes for a whole planet.

• Achievers--"Changing the Way The World Works" Through recognition, this Canadian company is helping corporations work with appreciation and gratitude which brings great results.

• Southwest--"Freedom to Fly". Everything that they do revolved around giving their customers the freedom to fly. They have three passions: "our performance, our people, and our planet", and they LUV their customers.

This is one of the key foundational elements that you can build your company on... and your life too. When a company is not in touch with its purpose, it will be lost.

Ask yourself: Why do you do what you do? When anyone does this exercise on a personal level, eventually we end up with just a few core reasons: love, happiness, and peace. Let's say you're an executive of a company. You want to make a good living.
• Why is that? Because you want to live a good life and take care of your family.
• Why is that? Because you want to make them happy.
• Why is that? Because it'll make you feel good.
• Why is that? Because you want to be happy too.

It's a simple exercise and it shows that even though we all come from different walks of life, we all have the same core desires within us... which doesn't make us so different from each other after all.

A company may have a purpose well defined, but the important question to ask is: is it a purpose that will inspire others to take action? If not, it is probably not the bigger purpose.

We can lift a company's purpose to a much higher level just by asking "and why do we do that?" several times until you discover that higher purpose for being. It is also important to get the collective input throughout the organization as it helps increase the engagement. This is a process that can take some time but it is well worth the work because suddenly there will be much more clarity, confidence, and ease in decision making.

Do you know what your purpose is?