The Meaning of (Business) Life
Here are 5 ingredients.
Firstly, to help as many people as possible, as much as possible. Perhaps you’ve been able to be more specific in how you help the world. If you haven’t and feel you need a life purpose, this will suffice. It may sound counter intuitive to suggest that a life centred on service and giving is the life that will give you most meaning and a true sense of fulfilment. It’s not what we get that counts, it’s what we give.
In a business context, this means providing a product and/or service that enhances people’s lives in some way. To solve a problem, meet a need or relieve a suffering. Or to enhance someone’s wellbeing. To make life easier, better or more bearable in some way.
In the market place you’re rewarded in appreciative proportion to the service you provide. Reward comes in the form of money. Money is a by-product of your service. Never aim at the money. Focus on the service. Yes, you need a sound business model and you need to make plenty of profit. You’ll need to build cash reserves in the good times to weather the economic storms that will always roll in. You’ll need profits to invest in the future. You’ll want to attract good people and give them the best tools to provide a great service and you’ll want to reward them well. So, yes, it’s your duty to do your best and make good profits.
Secondly, to be part of and contribute to something meaningful that’s bigger than you. Yes, you can serve the world as an individual, but you’ll derive a greater sense of fulfilment as a contributing part of a team, organisation or community.
Thirdly, to play your part. The part that plays to your strengths. The part that combines the things you love doing and the things you’re good at. Competence and enjoyment usually go together and are an excellent indicator of talent and natural strength. Competence necessitates hard work over a period of time, but it’s an enjoyable learning process. If it’s not, do something else. Be in the zone as much as possible.
Fourthly, always do your best in everything you do. Anything less just doesn’t feel right. Doing less than your best is what causes many psychological issues. Doing your best, however mundane the task, gives a real sense of fulfilment and wellbeing. Pushing your limits and doing your very best may result in being rewarded with more money. Perhaps more than you personally need. There’s plenty of worthy causes out there that do need it so please don’t let the thought of earning more money put you off! And if you really don’t know what to do with it, our public services would definitely appreciate more people willing to pay more tax!! Being comfortably off is the silent enemy.
Fifthly, to do some pretty cool stuff. Explore the world, curate some fine things, experience the wholesome pleasures of life. This is what some might call The Pursuit of Happiness. It’s good but is better when the other 4 ingredients are present. Happiness can also be ephemeral and fleeting. Joy – that deep-down sense of gratitude and aliveness – is probably a worthier pursuit.
Many business owners claim not to be sales people. If you come across a person or organisation who would be better off with you than without you, it’s your job to educate them and strongly encourage them to engage with you. Anything less is professional negligence – in my opinion. Some people just don’t know they need helping!
So, how are you doing? How about scoring yourself out of 10 for each of the 5 ingredients? And then think about how you might increase 1 ingredient by 1 point. Keep in manageable and make small steps.