For the last couple of years, I’ve often found myself dreading opening the paper, watching the evening headlines, catching the end of a radio bulletin or engaging in any social media, in case I’m faced with yet more Bad News.
Bad News is absolutely everywhere, we’re surrounded by it every day. Have we actually reached the point of no return? Do we all need to start stock-piling canned goods, building bunkers and deciding who around us we’d choose to save during the impending apocalypse?
Bad News creates fear, it riles us up, it makes us feel out of control, unsure of where we’re heading and scared of the unknown. The constant doom and gloom keeps us stuck in a place of uncertainty and piles on the pressure daily – Am I doing enough? Should I be doing more? Everyone around me seems so together- why aren’t I?
A question to ask is why we allow ourselves to get so affected by Bad News that doesn’t directly concern us. What if, instead of worrying about things that we have no direct control over, we were to focus more on those things that we can influence? That way we re-evaluate exactly what is important to us, define what our purpose is and endeavour to work towards achieving it, without the distractions of endless Bad News.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines purpose as ‘the intention, aim or function of something; the thing that something is supposed to achieve’.
This is a good starting point when thinking about our own or our business purpose – what it is that we are aiming for? What are we supposed to achieve?
Once businesses in particular really begin to clearly define their ‘why’, it can be transformational. It helps everyone to understand their role in helping to work towards a shared common goal. Clarity of purpose means clarity of intent and once this is established and reiterated, everyone can work towards a purposeful existence- something worth getting out of bed for in the morning.
Regardless of the sector, size or age of your business, your purpose should be something that is discussed and shared regularly, it’s your story and helps others to build a real connection with you. If conversations around purpose have yet to happen, or have been engulfed by other, seemingly more pressing and immediate issues, it’s time to begin to prioritise your purpose more fully. It can often be easier to start by thinking about your own personal purpose- what makes you uniquely you? This way of thinking can then be adapted to your business and the question posed in a relevant way- what makes us, us?
Once your purpose is crafted, you can begin to evoke an emotional connection and inspire your people, resulting in increased motivation and productivity. Everyone will also be better prepared to deal with any dreaded Bad News should the need arise, as in these somewhat turbulent times, resilience can be found from a clear sense of direction.
If you look at some of the recent protests as a response to Bad News, whether that has been climate change, politics, gender and race equality or austerity cuts, they have been hugely effective because their purpose was clear and those in attendance had a strong connection to it. A few years ago, the worldwide Women’s March set out to “send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world, that women's rights are human rights". Worldwide participation at this event was estimated at 7 million and the march became the largest single day protest in modern US history. I was there with my family in London and the sense of purpose was palpable – it hit you right in the chest as you got out of the tube and carried you along as you joined the huge crowd. There was drive, passion and commitment in abundance. That’s the feeling that you want to evoke in your business – a reason for being that everyone can understand, feel and totally get behind.
So next time you read, see or hear some Bad News, take a moment to accept your level of control. It’s absolutely right to be empathetic and to care and to understand what the most helpful way to contribute is, but with a clear sense of purpose we can stare down those headlines and override the overwhelm- Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum!