He sat alert, fingers hovering above the keyboard, his watchful eyes fixed on my face as he listened to me respond to his deceptively simple questions. “Did you think perhaps you are already there?” he probed, and then sat back, almost bemused, to watch that particular grenade hit its mark.
I had come to see him and settled into the now-familiar chair for my regular conversation on “lifestyle adjustment.” This time, I expressed the recent round of challenges that my own metanoia moment with my health has yielded. Over the last 6 months, the hard work, exercise and diet discipline have yielded a radical improvement in indicators like cholesterol levels and lost pounds. After a moment, he said matter-of-factly, “Chris, your new challenge is to flourish where you have arrived.”
As he looked back at me following a glance at the data, the bright-eyed doctor who loved to poke holes in my watertight theories and shred the corrosive beliefs that conditioned me to an unhealthy lifestyle, continued his mischief. “In my experience, Chris, those who maintain a healthy weight do so because they are always trying to lose it.” And so, another challenge was offered: to hold a new position against a long habituated stance that I am only now beginning to understand, let alone master.
Immediately, a light bulb came on for me. Complex systems reach a new equilibrium by continually straining against the reinforcement of old habits. In the same way, business will only change if we adopt new habits “for good” AND reject the standard appeal to just make money. [Tweet that]
In the collection of 45 posts we’ve written on Telosity over the past 18 or so months, we have laid out our thesis to explain why and how business is being changed and envisioned better business patterns that will return more to society than mere profit. New models for this really are emerging, like “shared value” and “triple bottom line.” Yet, these models still suggest that business can vigorously pursue both profit and social good, equally. In effect, this means that we just need to keep running our businesses to profit like we always have, but do a little bit extra to elevate social good as an intention.
But that line of thinking is a bit like an overweight couch potato insisting that he can keep eating only junkfood and still get healthy simply by adding exercise to his routine.
Such paradoxical thinking is popular, and enticing, but it is perilous—for businesses built on these hybrid-intentioned models will fail us. To quote one wise and influential teacher, “no one can serve two masters, either she will hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other.” Purpose and profit are not equal partners; though they might appear amicable at times, ultimately one must serve the other. Sooner or later, businesses (or more aptly, their leaders) are going to have to choose.
Many of you are choosing to spur the formation of new and better habits and thus break business’s unhealthy, system-destabilizing habit of focusing on profit alone. There is much work for us all to do. As I have found in my odyssey toward a healthier lifestyle, or toward my own fulfillment of purpose in business—to continue the positive journey and change the system, no thought or action is insignificant. Clear objectives are paramount, inspiration is fuel, and tools and tactics can be essential.
You can cause your business to adopt a good habit and break a bad one. We want to help you embody the change that will spur new patterns in business. That’s what the next few months will be about. If you choose to join us on that journey, you’ll receive:
- Inspiring stories of courage and humility that are creating this cumulative momentum for Purpose called Telosity. These are the heroic and everyday stories of personal metanoia that are behind the customers and employees who are driving the revolution in business.
- More detail and clarity on the new objective called The Corporate Telescope that companies must aim for.
- Practical ideas about how to take action in your context, including some custom built tactics and tools that we think will help you to spur business to gain Telosity toward The Purposeful Enterprise.
In order to spark this shift, we must all work together as change partners.
As we seek to equip you for this task, we’re also going to periodically ask for your engagement, input and assistance.
What we are asking for today is a story.
We believe that stories are a key part of cultural change and will therefore be essential as we bring Purposeful Enterprises to life.
By taking a few minutes right now, you can help bring that change and shape the next phase of Telosity by participating in our story exchange.
Submit a story by November 30, 2015, and you’ll get free access to a brand new diagnostic tool we’ve created that will zero in on how your team or your company is doing on Purpose. It’s called “The Corporate Telescope” and it’s one way we can help you help your company to grow on Purpose.
We only ask that your story is true and that you keep it short. We promise we’ll read each story we receive, and we’ll share some of our favorites here on ogilvydo.com or in other places from time to time.* Your story, whether a few words or a few pages, can encourage thousands.
If you’re still on the fence, we’ll leave you with one final thought, “if a good thing happens in a business, but no one hears about it, did it reach its full potential?”
The answer, of course, is up to you.
Stick with us… In the next few months, we’ll share more about what the Purposeful Enterprise looks like, sounds like, thinks like, and performs like, and we’ll also begin telling your stories. We look forward to engaging with you! It will be enlightening for all of us—and fun as well.
*We borrowed some of our parameters from the Vinyl Café Story Exchange, which has successfully gathered thousands of short stories over the years. Might as well learn from the experts.
For other posts in the Telosity series, click here.