Meaningful Work In The New EconomyNov 15, 2023
It is easy to end up feeling overwhelmed and despondent by all that is going on right now in the world. And wonder what it is all for.
A World In Transition
Ultimately it is a matter of perspective and choice. As many of you know, I believe that we are at a time of fundamental transition on the planet towards a world based on genuine flourishing of people and planet. And even though it may seem like we are going backwards right now, I see us being now firmly in the in-between. Yes there is horror which is the legacy of an outdated world. But there is also progress in many places.
Everyday more and more people are making new choices for a better world through their lives, work and leadership - wanting to actively contribute to that worthwhile momentum. And it is important to not get distracted by the chaos of those holding on to what has been and instead to keep focusing on and investing in that wave of change that is building itself up into a real movement of positive transformation.
Even when we feel anxious and powerless in the bigger context, we can still turn in the direction of our purpose in our own world. Doing that actually helps us.
One of the questions that I often get asked is what about if I am part of the world of business, how can I contribute to something better - do I need to leave everything behind and join an NGO to do that? The good news is that the answer is no, you don't have to, unless you really want to. You can start where you are right now - as meaningful work is the corner stone of the new world of work that is emerging. And for anyone in business right now, it is going to be the ultimate holy grail we are transitioning to next. It is not a question of if, but of when.
The New Economy And New World Of Work
One of the things that I have been inspired by and working on recently is the really helpful mapping by the Center for Sustainable Leadership at the University of Cambridge of the new economy and what it means for organisations and the world of work. Including starting to set standards on what we now call purpose-driven organisations.
The focus of this work is on framing the purpose of the new economy as the long term well-being of people and planet. Reminding us that the stated aim of an economy has always been ultimately to circulate resources to ensure the well-being of the whole.
It invites purpose-driven organisations to fundamentally move away from the sole focus of maximising shareholder profit at all costs - recognising that that was simply a distortion of capitalism that came in relatively recently. And that it hasn't worked. The idea is to replace it with an organisational purpose that is focused on serving the well-being of a specific group in a profitable way - within that greater overarching theme of the long term well-being of people and planet. The third piece being to understand what meaningful work means as part of this brave new world. And how to use this shift to transform each job into something that has a meaningful impact.
Out of all of this some great guidance is emerging in terms of what that means in practice for those of us who want to transform or build our organisations within that frame. And it is a great and exciting time in terms of being able to shape the overriding architecture of what is to come next.
If this is an area that interests you, feel free to get in touch. I am working with one of the professors at Cambridge in the context of these new standards through the British Standards Institute and looking at how we embed all this in organisations through ISOs - and happy to share insights.
Applying It In Your Own Work
Whether your organisation is purpose-driven or not, there are practical things you can do to make your work more meaningful - especially in the current context. We all know that we are in a volatile and uncertain world right now. In the face of that, it is tempting to get stuck in any of fight, flight or freeze and to keep reacting to what is in front of us. And to spin our wheels or to try to use old tools to resolve these fundamentally new challenges.
The key instead lives in creating something new through the chaos itself. And that is where the opportunity for greater purpose lives:
- Plant The Seeds: In our new reality it is harder for existing rigid structures to easily sustain - because ultimately they are not fit for purpose. Some level of flexibility has to be worked into the system. So from that comes more space for creativity, new ideas, agility, new connections and more intrapreneurial approaches. Ultimately little pockets emerge of where we can plant the seeds of something new. And you can be one of the ones that starts planting.
- Start Walking: If you see purpose now as channelling the unique being that you are into a unique impact, that means that you can start your purpose journey right now. One way to do that is by integrating the highest version of your most unique expression into what you currently do to the best extent that you can. You don't have to wait for another location. As I was exploring with a client this week a bigger purpose sometimes feels too far away. So you start with walking where you are right now and you take one step at a time. And before you know it a purpose-led path that you could never have imagined emerges right in front of your eyes.
- Be That Catalyst: Finally an essential piece is simply to get better at bringing about change and being comfortable with profound transformation. The only way you can evolve the things around you is through evolving yourself and by elevating your leadership to guide real challenge. So that you can consciously lead the way to new horizons and provide the transformational spaces we need to engage others in the new beginnings that are waiting to be born.
Let me know how this lands.
Until Next Time,
WE ALL HAVE A PURPOSE NOW:
JOIN THE PURPOSE-LED SCHOOL
We truly believe that we can do this. That, if enough of us commit to being purpose-led leaders and take care of our own garden patch, we can build a new world where we can all flourish together - where we deeply value people, planet and prosperity.
All it takes is for us to remember who we are, do what we are here to do and make that difference only we can make.
So join us by signing up below to The Time Of Lighthouses: Broadcasts From The New to receive inspiration through our shorts, whispers, letters, programmes and whatever else we feel called to create to support you. Look forward to walking with you on this journey!
Louise Le Gat, Founder Of The Purpose-Led School