C3MD hosted Conscious Coffee in May for the second event in its Higher Purpose series. “Coffee and Collaboration” was different from what we’ve done in the past. It was a collaborative discussion and networking event. While we chose not to record this for the integrity of the space and participants, we wanted to share some great responses.
Liz Richardson, Vice President of C3MD, guided us through this discussion and started by having each participant introduce themselves and share why they attended the event.
A few participants were very clear about why purpose matters: The customers. More sustainability. Maintaining a dependable system. And others shared how purpose can feel very abstract and deeply personal.
Defining what purpose means to the individual and/or their organization may be difficult and people may struggle with it.
One participant asked about the specific meaning of purpose in the context of Conscious Capitalism? Is it a “higher purpose” or a spiritual purpose (or something other than, for example, a traditional mission-driven business purpose)? The Conscious Capitalism national website defines the higher purpose tenet as, “Elevating humanity through business begins with knowing WHY your company exists. Without this, you have no compass to find and stay focused on your True North. Businesses should exist for reasons beyond just making a profit. We see profit as a necessary means to achieving your purpose—not as an end in and of itself.”
While for many, purpose is tied to having a mission with a triple bottom line, everyone’s view is different — and there’s room for many points of view.
One participant shared that “It [purpose] changes depending on the environment I’m in, but it’s always to do good — thinking about the actions I take and how they impact people. I think it’s hard when you’re working with other people who don’t see that because you’re always fighting and pulling.”
Another shared, “My hurdles come in when I’m bumping up against systems, and systems seem to have very little purpose or they are not aligned with ‘actual human’ purpose. Communicating a purpose and getting the reception that you need to move things forward from the systems, that has been the hardest thing to rectify. One way to help is to find common positive things that we all agree on. Set that framework as a part of your foundation.”
The Energy We Bring
When reflecting on the impact of the energy that we individually bring to the everyday workday, one of our guests shared, “It’s important to have a purpose, but also in terms of teams or customers, it helps you to make decisions in times when things aren’t as clear as you’d like them to be. If you know where you stand, you won’t fall for just anything. When everyone is aligned there is a strong level of stability throughout the organization.”
Liz wrapped up the Conscious Coffee event by sharing an excerpt from Ari Weinzweig, “Perseverance is a choice. It’s not a simple one-time choice. It’s a daily one. There’s never a final decision. In continually making that choice to push forward for me, for us, there’s much more at stake than just paying the bills. Don’t get me wrong, the money matters, we have debt we’re responsible for, and we need to pay our bills at work and at home. But really what drives me most is that the work we do here matters. It’s not just about making a living. It’s about making a meaningful difference. It’s about community. About creating something special. About positive workplaces. About showing that one can thrive and survive conducting business in the way that we do. To demonstrate that one can bring generosity, kindness, and quality into the community and meaningful ways. And to prove Michelle Obama’s statement, that success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”