The Tao of Meaning: Alignment with Purpose
Well it is easy enough to say ‘create meaning’ for your customers / users and your business will thrive. But it is a little bit more challenging to translate that statement into a grounded and pragmatic approach to business. Well, you have to trust me that we will eventually reach ‘grounded and pragmatic’ but for starters we are going to continue with the metaphysical theme and move along with our process of creation.
My suggestion is that you as an entrepreneur take the same approach to creating a business that great artists take towards creating beautiful artwork: look within your own heart for the meaning underlying your work. I am not talking about the ‘right’ answers – the answer that you think the teacher wants to hear, or the answer that is steeped in compromise (“well I have to do this because otherwise…”) – no I am talking about an authentic answer that is unconditional and without limits. Within a context of unlimited money and personal freedom answer the following questions…
- What do I love doing?
- What brings me joy?
- Is there something I can do for the betterment of society and the world in which I live?
Personal meaning should be the starting point for your new business. By connecting to a Source of meaning in our own lives we put ourselves in a position to create meaning for others simply by sharing our own experiences, ideas, and innovations. By creating meaning in the lives of our family, friends, and customers we position ourselves for success.
I suggest to you that each of us has a gift to offer the world which is unique and which will be expressed by no one else. It is our charge to carry this idea, this expression into the world. As signposts directing us towards identification of this gift we have love, passion. You are simply being asked to work on that which you are passionate about in a way that has a positive impact on the world around you.
To do so is to bring your work into alignment with a deeper sense of purpose and mission: you are creating meaning and achieving what the Buddhists would call ‘right livelihood.’ When you become a creator of meaning, you tap into powerful currents of energy that support your endeavors in magical ways because you are now working in harmony with the Tao, with the natural currents of life.
Without digressing too deep into a philosophical discussion, I will simply note that to read the currents of life and to effortlessly ride the waves of Life is the art of living known as Taoism. i will return to the relationship between Taoism and business at a later date as it is important to our discussion, but for now suffice to note that when we bring our work into alignment with our purpose in life, with our passion, we are now swimming with the currents of Life.
Now this is not to say that everything suddenly becomes easy, but as Guy Kawasaki notes, meaning is the ‘most powerful motivator there is.’ Now this is significant for many reasons, but for starters let us acknowledge that a challenging start up path is virtually a given for an entrepreneur, and so what we need as entrepreneurs is a connection to a source of strength, motivation, and power that will enable us to persevere and hold true to our vision even when times are hard.
Without meaning, without alignment with our deeper purpose in life, it is very challenging indeed to follow through with our endeavors. And so what I say to you is bring your work into alignment with your existential purpose for the betterment of the world around you. In so doing you have a powerful platform upon which to grow a business.
At its core, then, meaning is about having a positive impact in the world with your life and your work while doing that which you are uniquely called to do. ‘Meaning’ is a sense that you are doing something in the world which is important. Your work, your business is important to the lives of those around you: you are working to change the world for the better. That is a powerful intent to carry with you. When you hold this intention for positive change in the world, you put yourself and your company in a position to benefit in countless ways.
Read on: Follow the Joy…