ENT (601) – Finding your purpose: To Be or To Do

Greetings,

Welcome back to the weekly reflection series. In this post, I am focusing on topic of finding the purpose behind our actions and answering the question of what are we here to do? This is a continuation piece that should build onto the previous blog posts regarding the ego and the passion.

What is the purpose of anything we do? This is a question we should be asking ourselves every day. Are we seeking attention, fame, authority, and money or is the purpose of our very existence rooted in service to society and helping others succeed alongside? 

According to the research conducted in Great Britain and Scotland, and published by SyndiGate Media Inc, the aspiring young entrepreneurs, much like ourselves, are increasingly becoming motivated by purpose rather than just profit (Mannion 2018). Younger entrepreneurs are focusing on environmental and social concerns as well as profits (Mannion 2018); the profits are an essential part of any successful business, but what good is it to anyone if the profits are used to make the executives richer and make no impact on anything else. As entrepreneurs, we should be equally concerned with the environment and the wellbeing of society as we do for our own wellbeing. We should not just create jobs, but also treat the employees with respect and help them improve their quality of life. 

The author of “Ego is the Enemy” portraits another excellent example to help us understand what it means to have a purpose. When we’re called upon are we going to respond to the challenge looking to impress people for personal gains or make a difference in the society. He’s using the example of John Boyd, someone who most of us never heard of. Boyd is credited as one of the more influential strategists and practitioners in modern warfare best know as the “Forty-Second Boyd” – meaning that he could defeat any opponent, from any position, in less than forty seconds. (Holiday 2016). Boyd dedicated his entire career to serving the United States as an Airforce pilot of F-15 and F-16 fighter jets. However, the jet fighting was not the pinnacle of his career and influence; Boyd was never promoted above the rank of colonel. Instead, he focused most of his energy on teaching and mentoring young Airforce recruits. Boyd wanted to empower the new officers, who had the potential, to make conscious choices and decisions in their careers when they find themselves in a situation to either stay true to the purpose or compromise themselves, and if not careful, find themselves corrupted by the very occupation they wished to serve. He introduced them to the concept of “To be or to do”. (Holiday 2016).

I believe this concept has a broad application. The sooner we figure out what our purpose in life, as entrepreneurs, is, the sooner we can begin working towards accomplishing the goals. Furthermore, once we define what’s important to us we’ll notice that other choices are no longer options, but rather distractions (Holiday 2016). Is our end goal to leave behind a legacy as Boyd did (even though he was forgotten by history the work he did and the influence he had in his field was unparalleled) or are the selfish desires and ego going to distract us from seeing what’s important? Again, to be or to do, that is the question.

References:

Edmonton, Alta. How Do You Give Your Work Meaningful Purpose?; Edmonton Entrepreneurs Talk about Finding Meaning. Edmonton Journal, 25 Feb. 2016, search-proquest-com.proxy195.nclive.org/docview/1768096312?pq-origsite=summon.

Mannion, Lee. “Young Entrepreneurs Motivated By Purpose, Not Just Profit.” Young Entrepreneurs Motivated By Purpose, Not Just Profit, AllAfrica Global Media / SyndiGate Media Inc., 12 June 2018, search-proquest-com.proxy195.nclive.org/docview/2056386168?accountid=14968.

Holiday, Ryan. Ego Is the Enemy. Portfolio, Penguin, 2016.

6 Comments

  1. Entrepreneurs being motivated by purpose, not just profit, correlates to the significant rise of the B-Corp, at least in the United States. More consumers want to buy products from B Corps, more investors want to fund B Corps, and more job seekers want to work for B Corps. A Deloitte Millineal survey published in 2018 stated that 40% of the generation believes a business’s primary goal was to improve society, not increase returns to shareholders. This plays into what Jeffrey Tannenbaum calls “Post-Modern Capitalism.” He states that “…B Corp[s]… allows directors and executives to focus on a long-term approach, and maximizing value, building very profitable businesses, solving problems, but also representing multiple stakeholders beyond just shareholders.” Ultimately, your value resides on the impact you have on society, not on the profit margin of your product, although your companies still need to post profits. After all, what good can your company do for society if it is broke? There are many schools of thought on the nature of B Corps or why this class of company even exists, and there could be entire classes taught at universities just on B Corps, but there is no denying they are disrupting the financial industry and changing consumer behavior.

    1. Jonathan,
      You’re absolutely correct; the companies need to post profits consistently to stay in business. After all, if the companies are not profitable they can’t survive and can’t make any positive impact on society, their employees or shareholders. However, they should be in business for a reason, motivated by more than just money. We have many examples in some large conglomerates that don’t have any other motivation except for money; they usually get boycotted, which I personally support as well. When a pharmaceutical company CEO announces publically that they’re in the business solely to make money and not make drugs to cure anything, that is quite disturbing especially when we look up to such companies to make our lives better. That’s just one out of the many examples I can name, hence the interest in writing the post in the manner I did.
      There are, of course, companies out there doing a lot of great things for society and also making lots of money in the process. If I could I would encourage everyone to research the businesses thoroughly before spending their money on their products as for every company that does not care, there are dozens like them that do.

  2. The concept of “to be or to do” is a fascinating one. As you stated, many newer entrepreneurs are not satisfied with only turning a profit. They are looking to make an impact on their communities, whether that is on a local area or on a broader global scale. Many of the up-and-coming businesses are turning their attentions to creating awareness of larger issues the world is facing. One a smaller scale, we see this in local businesses who are targeting clients who share the same values as them. In our local region, there has been a bit of a boom around the micro-brewery industry. There are numerous craft breweries popping up all over the town. Instead of worrying about competing with rivals, these businesses are creating partnerships with others. They each create their own specific recipes for their beer, and they work with the other venues to allow them to stock the drinks all over. I never thought I’d see the day where we had two bars in the main town, and now we have at least a half-dozen that seem to be thriving. It is a great example of businesses just doing what they enjoy and making some profit along the way.

    1. Colby,
      Thank you for reading. I am glad you’re able to connect with the article. It’s good to see businesses trying to revive the idea and give people what they want; options and a good environment, as well as employment. These micro brewery’s are doing exactly that. I am not familiar with the brewery market in particular but I like the concept behind collaborating instead of competing.

  3. Hello Semir,
    Awesome job pulling your points together. Tis true many entrepreneurs have various reasons for why they want to go into business. Many are genuinely selfish and in turn only want the “fame” and profits associated with being a business owner. Those who understand that profits are necessary but not noteworthy go on to mold impactful businesses and that hire employees who understand the importance of conscientiousness and add to the intellect of the organization overall. Nice work!

    -TK

    1. Hello TK,
      Thank you for the insightful comments. I hope that we’ll become successful business owners at some point and make a real difference in our communities. I’m fascinated to see many open-minded CEOs doing extraordinary things for their employees in terms of salary, bonuses, and community involvement.
      -Semir

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