We are in transition. The current system is dissolving and a new one is emerging. One system is dying. And another is being born. Nature abhors a vacuum, so something must fill the space. What would you like this new world to be?
The system has been out of balance for decades. We believe this imbalance starts within each of us. We are not separate from the ecosystem, we are part of it. As Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh said, 'The Earth is not something outside of us... you are the earth.' Most of us have forgotten this though. We are disconnected.
We can see the symptoms of this disconnection at the level of the individual in record levels of divorce, depression, nervous breakdowns, non-communicable disease (caused by stress), addiction (to sugar, negative news, mobile phones and social media), sleep deprivation and personal debt.
We can see the symptoms of this disconnection at the level of the organization in records levels of employee disengagement - 85% are disengaged globally according to Gallup - and distrust - only 13% believe governments, NGOs, the media and business can address the challenges we face according to Edelman. We have a global crisis of trust.
And we can see the symptoms of this disconnection at the level of society in the panic around Covid-19, the Australian fires, melting of the Arctic, the financial crisis and impending global recession.
Every ecosystem naturally balances itself. Our bodies, central bankers and Mother Nature have handled this tricky balancing act until now. This is unsustainable though. And that's why our health, financial system and planet are in meltdown.
And yet, at the same time, we are seeing incredible breakthroughs. The dialogue is changing from climate change to climate crisis to climate opportunity. CEOs are saying the environment is their number one priority. 181 of them signed a statement to redefine the Purpose of business. We have the knowledge to sequester enough carbon to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2°C. We have the ability to rebalance financial and social inequalities. And we are reallocating capital on an unprecedented scale to bring this world to life.
Purpose is the key to unlock this world. It helps organizations and teams to rebalance. It is the soul or spirit of a company and explains why an organization exists. Every company has a purpose - a greater reason for its existence. Some companies focus on it. Others have forgotten it. Tesla’s purpose is to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy, Google’s is to organize the world’s information, Virgin’s is to transform business for good. The purpose of a company is to realize its purpose.
The problem is most companies are using Purpose as a tool to increase profit. For us, Purpose is a vision for the world that goes beyond profit. It can increase employee engagement to 73% (Deloitte) and earnings per share by 147% (Gallup). However, to reach these kind of numbers means putting Purpose at the heart of your business model with authenticity.
The world is changing. Larry Fink, the CEO of the largest asset management company in the world, BlackRock, has insisted the companies he invests in must put Purpose at the heart of everything they do or risk losing his support. As the New York Times says, this is a 'watershed moment'.