Several years before Live Aid, Sir Bob Geldof and his Boomtown Rats were tearing up the charts with their new wave sound. One of their biggest hits, titled “I Don’t Like Mondays” was inspired by a 1979 incident involving a 16-year old elementary school student, who opened fire on her classmates and teachers one unremarkable Monday morning. When asked why she committed the crime she responded “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.”
This tragic event and the lead up to it has so many contributing factors and its impact was and is felt by a great many people. Indeed the troubled young perpetrator remains behind bars to this very day. This post isn’t intended to dissect all of the whys and wherefores’ of that terrible incident. But I do want to use it to draw your attention to an issue that’s causing so many of us to not only dislike Mondays, but every single day of the week.
It’s a very sad indictment of today’s workplace that so few of us are “engaged” by what we do in our jobs. According to Gallup, who has been tracking employee engagement since 2000, only 13% of the global workforce in engaged. They even go so far as to refer to this is issue as “The Worldwide Employee Engagement Crisis”.
Although that sounds pretty bad, it’s been like this for so long I think we’ve all become immune to these facts and figures. Leaders know that we’re not engaged in our work. We know that we’re effectively sleepwalking through our days. But that’s just the way it is right? Well, the answer is both Yes and No! Yes it is, but No it doesn’t have to be,
There are some really exciting developments that should give us all great hope that our life at work can mean much, much more. And for me the most exciting discovery is that we have the power, in fact we always have! But before we take a step forward let’s take a step back.
In 1946 Austrian Neurologist and Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl wrote a book titled “Man’s Search for Meaning”. This immensely powerful book shares his experiences as a prisoner in Auschwitz concentration camp during World War 2. It’s almost impossible for many of us to truly relate to the shear horror he and his fellow prisoners had to contend with. But we can all take great heart in the knowledge that even in such a dehumanising environment as Auschwitz, purpose remained a choice their captors had no ability to lock away.
Our collective search for greater meaning and purpose is certainly nothing new. Long before Viktor Frankl's work, ancient Greek Philosopher's like Aristotle were sharing their perspectives on purpose. But despite the fact that it has been discussed, explored, debated and written about for a very, very, very long time. For some reason, grasping purpose has been mysteriously out of reach for us mere mortals. Until now.
The really great news is that the very latest work on this subject is placing purpose within our collective reach, maybe for the first time. In his book “The Purpose Economy” Aaron Hurst tells us that, despite what many of us may think:
Purpose is not a cause - Many people feel that they must “uncover” the cause they were destined to contribute to before they can find meaning. Purpose is about understanding what makes you feel fulfilled and making decisions to expand that experience in your life.
Purpose is not a revelation - People tend to believe that purpose is a life’s calling and that it hits us like a bolt of lightning. This is connected to the myth that purpose is a cause. Purpose is a journey. It is something you generate through being aware and seeking new experiences.
Purpose is not a luxury - Some believe that finding purpose in life is a luxury that only some can afford. Victor Frankl breaks this misconception in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl was able to survive a Nazi concentration camp by finding purpose through his interval world. He was able to cope with his suffering, find meaning in it and move forward.
Purpose is in fact a choice we can all make.
He goes on to explain that purpose comes from three things:
Relationships – we get purpose from connecting to each other
Doing something greater than yourself – we get purpose from touching lives by being of service to others
Personal growth and challenge – we get purpose when we take risks and learn new things
Although the three common themes above relate to us all, of course we don’t all get purpose from the same things. As it turns out the very talented people at Imperative have discovered there are actually twenty four different purpose patterns that determine what brings purpose to you versus someone else. They've also developed a powerful set of assessments and learning resources to help us all discover and understand our own unique purpose patterns and to develop strategies that will allow us to bring purpose to our work.
This is a hugely important thing for everyone to do, but I’m going to end this post by relating it back to the world of sales. I want to do that because more than just about any other profession salespeople are in a unique position to make a massive contribution to the purpose movement.
As sales professionals our jobs require us to speak to or meet with people every single day, and that means we have the opportunity to bring an experience of purpose to each and every one of those interactions, whatever the outcome. Imagine that. Millions of salespeople worldwide shifting their focus from simply making the sale, to touching lives. Now that would be a powerful force for positive change in the world.
That’s all well and good, but what about the sales part? No sales no business right! Good question. In a recent post on the subject of happiness I shared that Harvard Psychologist, Happiness Researcher and Author of The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor found that greater levels of happiness resulted in a 37% increase in sales.
This isn’t an outlier. Whatever metric you choose to measure purpose driven people are happier, more creative, more innovative, more engaged, more productive, higher performing, more collaborative and the list goes on. Here are a selection of results from various research studies on this subject:
600% Higher performance over 10 years
68% More likely to experience revenue growth
50% Larger leadership pipeline
36% Higher employee net promoters
20% Higher retention
64% More likely fulfilled at work
54% More likely to have an impact at work
51% More likely to have strong relationships
Higher Psychological Safety
Greater Dependability, Stability, Meaning and Impact
The bottom line here is that learning how to sell and do business on purpose will have a more positive impact on your individual, team and organisational performance than just about anything else you can choose to do. The choice is yours, literally. So choose wisely!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ian J Lowe is the Founder & CEO of eccoh, a sales transformation, coaching and consulting organisation pioneering a movement to change the way the world thinks about sales. The selling environment has radically changed and yesterday’s attitudes, mindsets and cultures are no longer relevant. To succeed we need to be much more than in the past. Our mission is to harness the collective energies of every salesperson on the planet as a force for good in the world. That's the open effect.
Image Credit: Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2 movie, Marvel Studios 2017