Impactful and successful lives and businesses are built on strong foundations. These foundations must be resilient and capable of weathering the wear and tear of life and business. Purpose, values and principles are the foundations of our lives and the businesses we lead. They define who we are. Recognise and strengthen your foundations and success will follow.
Active Knowledge Question:
Can you describe and list the foundations upon which your life and the business you lead are built?
In today’s world, there is a constant noise that is only getting louder, more invasive, more demanding, and which is enabled by the technology that pervades our daily lives. We are constantly told what we should and should not do, what we must believe in, what is most important, and how we need to act.
This noise penetrates not only our personal lives but also our work lives and the businesses which we lead. We should never forget that our businesses rest in the people who work within them, and what impacts their lives can readily flow into our businesses.
If not anchored, we will be constantly pulled in every direction without respite.
Over the past few weeks, we have considered anchoring our business strategy, anchoring our business culture and improving human performance. Today we draw all of these together in a very simple way, and we ask, ‘who are we?’. Who are we as an individual, and if we lead a business, who is that business?
As An Individual
With experience, we begin to discover who we are as individuals and where success can and does lie for us.
Success, in part, comes from discovering where our natural talents lie and being able to lift these to the forefront. But the other aspect is defining who we are as a person and that lies in purpose, values, and principles.
These are self-discovered and self-defined. And you don’t necessarily have to have a list of points under each of these headings. They reflect the rules by which you seek to live your life and what you hope to achieve.
A purpose in life can often take some years to discover, and many people find this through meaningful employment, family, faith and just helping others. Purpose provides direction and an ability to compound your success in delivering on that purpose over time.
But a key aspect of discovering purpose is deciding how you will interact with others, and this comes through the values and principles you will hold yourself to – call it character if you like.
Do you have in your life certain principles, values, virtues, strengths etc. that you aspire always to live by and uphold? Sometimes these are defined as a negative, ‘I’m never going to do that again’, but they better expressed as positive statements. If you do list them out, and if not, try creating a list now.
Here’s my list of traits that I seek to hold myself accountable to in all that I do:
- Courage: the willingness and strength to take risks to achieve the goals I set in my life.
- Determination: the discipline and endurance to see through whatever I start.
- Humility: Accepting that I am learning every day, and there is so much that I don’t know.
- Gratitude: A daily thanks for all that I have in my life.
- Love: A genuine empathy and care for others.
And my purpose in life is to:
- Enable others to achieve success in their lives.
- Serve as a leader.
- Bring joy through my interactions with others.
By having set and defined the five traits above, I now have a standard against which to measure all my decisions and actions. And I am able to ask myself, ‘am I holding true to whom I aspire to be as a person’?
They guide me in how I act and interact, and anchor me in the type of person I seek to be. And my purpose guides what I seek to do in my life, and also how I will do it.
This purpose and the traits set my course and allow me to weather storms and not to be distracted by the constant noise that pervades life today – they are my anchor.
Businesses are not only distracted by the noise in society today but also the paradigm that ‘businesses exist to profit’, better expressed as profiteer. This paradigm is a fallacy and undermines the competitiveness, and profitability, of any business.
Profit-first as a purpose and motive sets politics, self-interest and selfishness as the character of that business. They are not traits that will support the business, really in any respect.
In my article on anchoring culture, cited above, I noted that culture is most easily viewed as the character of the business. And that character should consist of two parts, the traits that enable people to thrive and those that uplift the skills, attributes and talents that align with the competitive posture for your business.
Stepping further into culture, the question of whom your business needs to be to be successful is critical. Can you readily describe a list of traits that your business should hold itself accountable to? Traits that will characterise the way everyone is expected to act within the business and against which they will be judged.
Maybe here are some examples:
- Proactive: ‘better every day’ is our mantra, and therefore everything must always be changing and improving.
- Imagining: seeking ways to lift the value we deliver to customer to levels we never thought possible, and through this discovering new products, services and markets.
- Customer-first: all decisions and actions are measured against how they will impact the value we deliver to customers.
- Never-me: it’s never about me, it’s always about others, self-interest is banned.
Anchoring your business in foundational traits will define the character of your business, overcome the ‘cultural-problems’ that plague many businesses today and underpin performance.
Knowing whom you are as a person or a business, holding yourself accountable to that purpose and traits and anchoring in that foundation, will enable you, and any business you may lead, to be far more resilient and successful than otherwise possible.
Without these, your energies will be expended and wasted dealing with all the noise that pervades every aspect of life and business.
An entirely new level of performance.
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All the best in the success of your business,