We are living through the greatest transition since The Industrial Revolution. The institutions on which the current world was founded are dissolving around us. We are finding our own solutions: health online, home schooling and creating our own jobs, rather than depending on institutions or the government.
As one system dies another one is born. Nature abhors a vacuum, so something must fill the space. What would you like this new world to be?
The last time we had this opportunity was after 9/11. We missed the opportunity, in part because we didn't have the know-how or the technology. Now, we do.
The system has been out of balance for decades. 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.' The poet Rumi said, 'you are not an drop in the ocean, you are the entire ocean in a drop.'
We can see the symptoms of this disconnection in the current health and financial crisis, the Australian fires, and melting of the Arctic.
We can also see it in records levels of employee disengagement and distrust of governments, NGOs, the media and business. We have a global crisis of trust.
And we can see it in record levels of divorce, depression, nervous breakdowns, stress, addiction (to sugar, negative news, mobile phones and social media), sleep deprivation and personal debt.
Our bodies, central bankers and Mother Nature have been rebalancing the ecosystem until now. This is unsustainable. And that's why our health, financial system and planet are in meltdown.
And yet, at the same time, we are seeing incredible breakthroughs. For every person who died of Covid-19 in China, 30 didn't die from pollution. We have had more impact on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in a few weeks since the crisis began than in the last few decades. The dialogue has changed from climate change to climate crisis to climate opportunity. The same is happening with Covid-19.
We see this crisis as an opportunity to rethink, redesign and recreate the world. In Chinese, the word crisis is made up of two symbols - danger and opportunity. In English, the word is derived from the Greek word, krisis, meaning decision. In other words, we have a decision to make about which world we want to live in.
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 have used Purpose as a tool to increase profit. For us, Purpose is a vision to recreate the world that goes beyond profit.
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. The current crisis accelerates that need.