For years I have been listening to motivational gurus telling people about Goal Setting. I was often put off by it because the goals always seemed to be about wealth and power, which were never really enough to get me really fired up.
And I should say that there is nothing wrong with wealth or power. Each has its place in this great tapestry of life.
But recently I have been exploring yet again the whole topic of life purpose and living one's passion. I was recently given a quote from Pablo Picasso that read, "The meaning of life is to discover your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."
When we look at life purpose it seems to have so much more to do with creating for the benefit of others as opposed to creating for the benefit of self. Often the motivation gurus talk about creating great wealth so that you can then support charities, but I have a sense this is more to create a smokescreen to cover up a special brand of selfishness.
A friend once said to me that he had a brilliant business idea that involved passing on products at a wholesale rate to people who would sell them retail. As part of the transaction, a certain percentage of the wholesale sale was to be donated to a charity. The program was not taking off and we sat and explored it.
Where we ended up was quite amazing because he realised that he did not care one bit about the charity. He had put it in there to try to create the impression that he was kind and benevolent when in actual reality he was being a bald faced opportunist. He realised that he was using the charity to manipulate and seduce people.
I am guessing he is not the first person to try this trick.
There is a definite difference between a goal that comes from the depth of our own unique sense of purpose and a goal that satisfies our ego. The first brings with it an inexhaustible well of inspiration. The other requires a lot of external motivation. The first is energizing and the second can be exhausting. When achieved, the first is looked upon with deep satisfaction whilst the second may need to be shown to others to elicit some applause or approval.
Of course, the challenge is that if you have not found your passion or your genuine sense of purpose it will be hard to create these amazing and inspiring goals. But you do not have to look far to find something that is needed in the world and align it with your own skills. Perhaps you can work on it till you get a little closer to your own sense of life purpose.
Heart centered goals are founded upon the perceived need of others. Head centered goals are founded on your own wants. Hidden agendas are goals that fall into the second category but that are being sold as being in the first.
Here is the bottom line to all of this. I feel that when we are unable to genuinely create a goal that is based on our genuine sense of purpose, a goal from the heart, then we will find ourselves running on selfish goals and hidden agendas. If we fail to feel excited enough to create any goal at all, then we slip into boredom. When that happens we begin to over indulge, dramatize, and become self-centered.
When we are uninspired, the result is normally boredom, over indulgence, drama and conflict. When we are inspired, we create new things, move away from our indulgences, get new energy and tend to inspire others along the way.
So having a heart centered goal is a necessary part of a happy and productive life.
So how does that translate to an organisation or a country. I suggest most corporations started out because someone felt they had something of value to offer others. Many however, have become disconnected from that purpose and are making their goals more about profits.
One classic example I am closely familiar with started out as two men with a vision. They built their business to almost unimaginable success with 6000 employees across Australia. Their staff all loved them dearly and they loved the staff back. No manager was ever frightened to pick up the phone and talk to them, to let them know about a mistake or a problem, or to get some advice. For this reason alone, they always knew what was going on in their company.
Then the day came when they thought they would retire and they took advice to float the company on the stock exchange. So the launch happened and very soon the business was being driven by shareholder expectation. It took less than 12 months for the once wonderful culture to be destroyed.
My assessment of the demise was a shift in goals. When the two partners ran the company, the goal was to deliver incredible service and savings to the customer. And the profits flowed. After the float, the goal became returns to shareholders, increased profits. With the shift in focus and the destruction of the culture, the only way to create those improved profits was to cut costs. I am sure you will understand what happened to the culture after that.
When I look back at Australia after the two World Wars, the country did have a collective goal, inspired by the leaders of the time: To rebuild the country. People set to work and immigrants from Europe who wanted to create a safe home to raise their families, also knuckled down and worked hard. Great cities grew and an admirable standard of living was created. By about 1975 we needed a new goal, but it did not come.
I feel that this country and many others are floundering because there is no collective goal. Our governments are no longer leading. They are just managing.
So what is the goal that lays un-awakened in your heart? What is the current goal of your organization? Does it need adjusting? And are you prepared to write to your local member and ask the question: What is our country's goal?
We cannot afford to sit around and wait for something to happen. I will send my letters today.