Do you spring out of bed every morning?
In this day and age, it’s easy to get lost in the minutia of all that is available to us. Management has found one thousand and one new ways to connect quantitative values to our key performance indicators. Most of the headlines in our inboxes have to do with “Data” and “What it can do for you!” All of our activities, in life and in work, have been broken down into such microscopic bits and pieces, it’s starting to feel like we are juggling more than ever, and consequently lose sight of the reason we began our careers, hobbies, and families in the first place. And if we find ourselves, as a whole enterprise, asking “what’s the point?” we are in deep, deep trouble. A purposeless ship has no port, no matter how tightly it’s run.
I want to talk about what it means to be a purpose-driven business. Clients often tell me that business is going generally well but they have no idea where to steer forward because they aren’t sure where that success is coming from. This is problematic because if things change, as they will, my client has no idea what is essential to the practice versus not. Is the business thriving because every single activity of the employees can be measured down and linked to ROI?
Or is it successful because the mission resonates firm-wide? Perhaps it’s because the product or service provided has value to the clients beyond the transaction. Maybe it’s because the authenticity of the collegial relationships is palpable and that energy is recruiting top talent. Perhaps the leadership team shares the same level of commitment to the ethics and values of the incorporating documents as they do to the shareholders’ bottom-line. These are just a few examples of how becoming a purpose-driven practice can transform the culture and intent behind a firm or business’s success.
I can think of one attorney in my network that is a great example of how becoming a purpose-driven practice can revitalize your work and help with your rainmaking. During the recession, business was slow for everyone and there was more time to contemplate traditional business practice as well as ways to reach new clients. This led him to pursue a purpose driven practice, and ultimately for his firm to seek B-Corp certification. He now consults with other purpose driven businesses and describes the work as exciting and new. That’s not something you hear often in the legal industry.
I often challenge my audience to ask the high energy question: What are you passionate about? (And to those who are new to my philosophy, this replaces the age-old question What do you do?). Imagine asking yourself that question and the answer is “the kind of impact my practice has on the world.” If that doesn’t get you springing out of bed every day, I don’t know what will.
Here are some questions that you can ask yourself and your colleagues about purpose:
- What gives your life purpose?
- What makes your work meaningful?
- Beyond making money, what is the purpose of your practice?
- How would your colleagues describe your purpose? What about their own?
- What is the purpose of your firm?
- Is the purpose of the firm aligned with your personal values?
- How does the firm’s purpose impact its culture?
- When recruiting top talent, how does the firm’s purpose and culture have impact?
- How are you communicating purpose to your clients and your peers?
Start asking those questions around your firm, and I guarantee you’ll provoke meaningful conversation and gain an understanding of your ideal client. Have more meetings each day fueled by purpose. Have more calls fueled by purpose.