The business case for purposeful leadership

The great master of martial arts Morihei Ueshiba became deeply troubled as to his true defining purpose. So he retired into the mountains with a Zen philosopher to reflect upon his work and life. He gave up the practice of martial arts as a form of violence and created the graceful non-violent martial art of Aikido — which is known for bringing calm, peace and strength to its practitioners.

Everything we do is shaped and guided by what we believe, whether we notice it or not. It is easy to dismiss the notion of needing a guiding philosophy, just as you might shrug off the idea of beauty as being nothing more relevant to our world than decoration. But without a guiding philosophy, we end up stripping away our navigational compass and losing sight first of our humanity, then our potential.

Moriehi Ushiba’s unique creation has touched and still touches millions of people all over the world everyday. Helping them them develop more peaceful approaches to life. “We may not achieve world peace” said Morihei but dedicating oneself to leading a more peaceful life may not be a bad thing”.

We need precision in our design and engineering, we need to know things are going to fit together, we need to have reliable repetition of making stuff. But these can’t give us a why. Why do we do what we do? What purpose do we serve and to whom?

Harvard Business Review and Wired Magazine have both published articles stating that, over the long run, purpose driven companies are more financially successful. Purpose is the point. Profit is the result. Good things come to purpose driven companies. They are also more enduringly satisfying, because they reinforce the idea that life is and can be worthwhile.

Further reading

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