People naturally tend to resist change, so the first imperative is to inspire through purpose. Making the change a partner in life requires a singular intent to drive change towards something much bigger than ourselves, so essential that can transcend successive changes. According to the Japanese, we each have an ‘ikigai’, the reason we get up in the morning. Knowing our ikigai, that is to say our intent or our purpose in life, is the best starting point to live the life we want. A singular, unique, remarkable intent provides us with the energy and confidence to make clearer decisions as to the direction we need to drive change and create our own game.
Are you laying bricks or building a cathedral? Imagine yourself as a traveler during the Middle Age and you come upon two men working. You ask the first man what he is doing and the man say he is laying bricks. You ask the second man the same question and he say he is building a cathedral, the most beautiful cathedral in the world. They are both doing the same thing. The first man has a job. The second man lives a purpose-driven life and he feels to be part something bigger than himself. Simply having a singular intent changes our entire view of life. We may be laying bricks every day, but if we envision the cathedral, we are having a completely full life. The search for meaning is the primary motivation in all our lives.
As everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality, change begins with purpose. Why do you what you do? Why did you get out of bed this morning? Of course we do have to make a living, but when you ask people who are very fulfilled by what they do, money almost never comes up. The list of non-monetary reasons is generally headed by opportunity to play for something bigger than themselves. Great parents play for the future of their children. Great entrepreneurs for their clients. Great politicians for their communities. Great scientists for the progress of humanity. In other words, infinite thinkers get out of bed every morning with the intent of making a difference in other people’s lives. The power of change rises exponentially as we play for something bigger than ourselves.
It is therefore for the infinite thinking to have a singular intent. This is the best starting point to play our own game in all spheres of personal as well as professional life. What happens when purpose is wrongly defined? History shows how, for example, purposeless organizations often tend to collapse. Yellow Pages companies did not collapse because the problem of accessing information reduced. In fact, seeking information demand grew. Yellow Pages collapsed because the need for accessing information was better fulfilled by other solutions such as Google. Yellow Pages collapsed because they assumed themselves to be in the game of telephone directory rather than in the game of resolving information problems. The reason they defined their purpose incorrectly was that they were product oriented instead of people oriented.
In the other hand, successful companies, that make the change a partner in business, find the necessary imagination in a singular intent based on hugely improving the lives of people and shaping new value games around that purpose. For example, Amazon is not about ecommerce, it’s being the earth’s most customer-centric company. This kind of purpose articulates what is essential and resilient about the company, that which can transcend successive changes. Amazon has shaped, scaled and dominated its own infinite game anchored, in the beginning, in the online store but seamlessly complemented with other experiential concepts such as Prime, Kindle, Alexa & Echo, or Amazon Web Services. In the words of Jeff Bezos, “Every day is a new day, every day the world changes, and we must look for the change, create the change, and adapt to change. It’s a lesson to every manager and leader. It’s the meaning behind Forever Day 1.” Regardless of what we do in our lives, our singular intent, our driving purpose, never changes. What we do is simply the tangible way we find to breathe life into that intent.
So the rule is straightforward: single truly unique purpose, infinite possibilities to make it happen. To walk hand in hand with change, it’s extremely important that purpose is unconstrained by traditional conventions such as industries, products or technologies. Although this is very obvious, it is extremely badly understood by the majority of companies. In fact, companies frequently play for selling products and services, rather than for solving people’s problems and meeting their needs. That is precisely the main reason why many firms have difficulty interpreting change, transformation, innovation, reinvention and disruption. Although change must be fluid, flexible and dynamic, any company also need to anchor the organization on some stability points. Great companies` find the necessary stability in their singular intent focused on hugely improving the lives of millions of people and shaping new markets and value games around that purpose.
This is the second in a series of four articles that details the Infinite Thinking approach to change our relationship with change and make it a partner in both our professional and personal lives.
- Infinite Thinking: Making the change a partner in life
- The WHY of Change: Singular Intent
- The WHAT of Change: Sustainable Impact
- The HOW of Change: Scalable Intelligence