A Spiritual Revolution in Business?
The “Profit of Happiness” Update
Maybe it’s just the way my antennae is tuned lately, but I think I may be witnessing a Spiritual Revolution in Business. Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” and Jim Collins’ “Good to Great”, while neither one being newly published, both talk about great enduring American companies and how and why they got that way. Reading between the lines you can see an underlying force that these great companies all had “a higher purpose.” Higher than simply making profit for profit’s sake. The comparison companies that didn’t measure up to the standard of “great” certainly had profitability in many cases, yet they couldn’t surpass the “good” mark and reach “greatness” by shear pursuit of profit alone. In every case it took something more, something hard to define and pin down. Simon Sinek referred to it as “knowing their why”. What is “knowing your why” other than “knowing your purpose”? You could ask, “what if their purpose was to make money?”, and that is probably the answer most businesses and individuals would give for why they do what they do. To push beyond mediocrity however you need something more, you need a purpose that’s greater than yourself.
Finding your purpose is not easy and takes effort and introspection. You may have no idea what your purpose is and are anxiously waiting for it to drop from the sky and hit you on the head. In the meantime your efforts and energies lose the potential of the concentrated power and focus available to someone that is sure of theirs. One of the things I teach in my classes is that ultimately you get to decide what your purpose is. This is one of the greatest things about our human existence, the privilege of deciding what we are going to make our lives about. If you happen to be an entrepreneur or business owner, in the same way you can decide what is the reason for your business to exist.
In my own personal example, seven years ago I opened a Salon Mall and rent out mini-salons to independent stylists. Admittedly I started this business to make money for money’s sake. However, a few years later as it fell on hard times and threatened to pull me down with it, I had to do some soul searching. Instead of seeing the business as simply a vehicle to extract money from paying tenants, I shifted my viewpoint to seeing the place as a center of personal development for the stylists that rented from me. It became an incubator of sorts. We started offering classes and programming, and mentoring the tenants that wanted it. This shift in view as to the purpose of Salon Studios altered the lens of my decision making in many ways, including where and why to spend resources. The benefits of this shift to a higher purpose quickly materialized. We didn’t have to advertise anymore to get new stylists when vacancies appeared, tenants stayed longer, the people that chose to stay longer turned out to be the better people, the culture of the whole place soon reflected this uplifted spirit, something new was happening. It’s remained this way ever since.
Once my business had a “higher purpose,” I found myself happier and more fulfilled. It became so much more rewarding for me to teach and help a group of people prosper and develop as opposed to simply collecting rent from them. It was more fun to go to work. As a bonus Salon Studios ended up making more money than when I did it simply for the money. This is the idea of the “Profit of Happiness” at it’s core. First you must find the way to be happier and more fulfilled and then the profits come as a secondary result. This is contrary to the typical order where we bargain, “once I’m making more money then everything will be great.” This contrarian idea to the “money comes first” method is what only 11 Great companies out of the Fortune 500 realized in “Good to Great” and the same lesson that the enduring companies proved that “knew their why”: Your business and personal life can profit more if you are willing to chose what you want your life to be about. Now that’s the beginning of a spiritual revolution. – Albert Pellissier