Putting the Capital “P” in Purpose

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By Vawn Hicks

It’s a very simple word purpose, which means the reason why something exists or is done but the word takes on a much deeper meaning when the “P” in purpose is capitalized with the intention of self-reflection. What is my Purpose? What is my intention, objective, goal based on my deepest core values?

I attended the Association for Talent Development (ATD) International Expo & Conference in early May and the word Purpose and why it’s important to know your Purpose continued to echo as a theme throughout the conference. President Barack Obama was a keynote speaker at the conference and he spoke to Purpose. “Think about what you can do, not what you want to be,” said Obama.

Dan Pontefract, contributor to Forbes Magazine wrote about his experience listening to Obama speak at this same conference (Obama’s Three Leadership Takeaways from the 2018 ATD Conference). Dan writes,

“He urged leaders to consider the concept of purpose rather than the quest for a fancy title. As leaders, when we can help those we are leading tap into their best selves, we are helping them develop a sense of both personal and role purpose. When we set an example where our singular mission is to climb the corporate ladder, what is the real goal in that title attainment? Is it to attain a comfy corner office, or a six/seven-figure salary, or more headcount, or a larger departmental budget? The result will likely be a career that ends up not only feeling hollow but empty of genuine meaning.

Obama was crystal clear. If you seek out a life and a career that is purpose-driven, goodness will result in the outcome. When we seek the trappings of money, power and entitlement first, is that a life worth living?”

I also attended a session titled “Wired to Become: The Neuroscience of Purpose” by Britt Andreatta, CEO and President of BrittAndreattaTraining.com. She reported that in the evolution of economy, the current “Information phase” is leading us into the next phase which is “Purpose”. She explained when one has Purpose then positive outcomes such as creating successful change and great teams are achievable. Andreatta delves in deeper with scientific research demonstrating that having a sense of Purpose in one’s life is linked to the protection of neurotransmitters, brain structures and neural protection.

Dr. Britt Andreatta

Purpose also protects our physical and community health. Check out these statistics:

Neural Protection

People with a sense of Purpose have:

  • Reduced risk for dementia (50%)
  • Reduced risk for stroke (72%)
  • Slowed age-related decline
  • Reduced depression in adults and teens

Physical Health

People with a sense of Purpose have:

  • Reduced hospital stays (17%)
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (44%)
  • Reduced risk of heart attack (48%)
  • Lower levels of inflammatory response
  • Increased self-care (regular screenings, exercise, etc.)
  • Longer lifespans (“buffer against mortality”)

Community Health

People with a sense of Purpose have:

  • Increased comfort with diversity
  • Decreased perception of difficulty
  • Shield from the stereotype threat
  • Improved rehabilitation
  • Increased healing through tragedy and loss

After thinking about what Barack Obama and Britt Andreatta said I couldn’t help but think about my Grandmother and how she always said being a positive thinker will help you live a longer and happier life. It is no surprise to me that one of Conscious Capitalism’s four principles is Purpose.

On Conscious Capitalism’s homepage you will find why and how Purpose is vital. In fact, in the words of University of Virginia Darden School of Business professor and Conscious Capitalism, Inc. trustee R. Edward Freeman,

“We need red blood cells to live (the same way a business needs profits to live), but the purpose of life is more than to make red blood cells (the same way the purpose of business is more than simply to generate profits).”

While making money is essential for the vitality and sustainability of a business, it is not the only or even the most important reason a business exists. Conscious businesses focus on their purpose beyond profit.

We all need meaning and purpose in our lives. It is one of the things that separates us from other animals. Purpose activates us and motivates us. It moves us to get up in the morning, sustains us when times get tough and serves as a guiding star when we stray off course. Conscious Businesses provide us with this sense of meaning and purpose.

By focusing on its deeper Purpose, a conscious business inspires, engages and energizes its stakeholders. Employees, customers and others trust and even love companies that have an inspiring purpose.

Between referencing Obama’s inspiring words about Purpose to linking Britt Andreatta’s research to why it’s healthy to reflect and live your life according to your Purpose and tying this Purpose reflection to Conscious Capitalism, it’s time you ask yourself this question: What is my Purpose?

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Author: Vawn Hicks


Vawn Shandy Hicks is the Marketing Communications Manager for Conscious Capitalism, Portland. She has worked in Marketing, Healthcare and Human Resources, most recently at Oregon Parks and Recreation where she received the agency’s Process Improvement Award. Vawn is an avid music fan who loves to cook, dance and one of her bucket list goals is to explore the country in a vintage Airstream travel trailer.