Having a purpose is not enough.
A PHILOSOPHICAL INSIGHT BY GUSTAVO BERNARDINO / CO-FOUNDER AND BUSINESS DEVELOPER AT FIRE CAN BURN.
“Human life, by its very nature, has to be dedicated to something, an enterprise glorious or humble, a destiny illustrious or trivial.” José Ortega y Gasset
Humans need purpose. A purpose is not only something we state, but we need to deeply feel it in the fibers of our beings. It must be something we seek to accomplish. Purpose is not a slogan, not a logo, not a picture, but something that we accomplish. Yes, words matter a lot, logos are important, but they must be an expression of a deeper truth, they must have substance.
Purpose is a high ideal that transcends our present situation, and we dedicate ourselves to it everyday. It is not a dead slogan on the wall or a cool ad campaign, but a daily practice, it must be alive, a burning flame with our hearts in it. It is not a random activity, without orientation, or a mere response to stimuli stemming from market movements: it must be deeply rooted in our essence, in who we are and what we believe. In other words, it must be a true expression. This truth is the greatest measure that one can have. All other metrics and actions will be measured against this essential truth, this primordial intention that gives meaning to the company's actions and existence. And, consequently, it is a firm guide to stablish coherence across all parts of a company, from the client's experience until the employees, for they all must be aware of this magnetic north. When we have this truth, we are able to call other people to cooperate with us, people that identify themselves with the purpose and help us on the journey. We gain real strength, because we focus on the first order of motivation, which is transcendent and intrinsic. And, if purpose is about accomplishment, we are going to need it.
We have this primitive impulse, this voice, this fire that call us to accomplish and express our true essence. This purpose is the very human spirit in the backbone of every great achievement. There are many companies and startups establishing a purpose because they heard it is important, or because it is in fashion nowadays, or they might think it to be an advertisement resource or marketing tool. But it goes much further than that. It must go further than that. It is an orientation for human action, that leads us to accomplish things that are good, true and beautiful and, most importantly, way bigger than us: Our purpose must transcend the brand itself. A brand is only a reference to this light, this higher ideal that we chase and build. A brand's company cannot be only a slogan, but a working reality, a fire that needs to burn, that will give life and impulse to our endeavors. Discover this essence, this fire and, once you do, understand that you need to accomplish it, you need to take the torch beyond. Stating purpose without living it is a dead end. You need hearts and hands to make it real.
And how do we transform this purpose into a working reality? We need it to be deeply human. We need leaders who won't reduce everything down to a number. Purpose is a force able to connect people and enhance our ability to cooperate and work together towards a common goal. Machines and data do not understand purpose, they do not seek meaning in their actions, they are great instruments born out of our intelligence fire, but they lack inspiration. The business of the future will be the ones able to use technology, data and tools, but that will be embedded in our humanity, valuing who we are, our intelligence, creativity, improvisation and freedom. If we do not value this basic human reality, we will not be able to achieve greatness. We need brands that will be able to understand our emotional nature and our profound need to be dedicated to high ideals.