Aristotle once said the purpose of life is to do good and be happy. It’s so simple yet so powerful, and it’s a thought that has shaped my thinking around the idea of “purpose.”
Defined simply, purpose is the reason why you exist and should be what drives you towards all your goals in life. It’s a concept that starts at home; essentially, stop asking your kids what they want to do and instead ask them what they love to do. And wouldn’t be great if schools put more emphasis on developing a sense of purpose and talent in students rather than simply passing tests? Once you have established your purpose, it will influence every aspect of your life.
I highly encourage individuals to find their purpose, but it’s an idea that easily translates to business as well. A practice’s purpose differs from its mission in that purpose is the practice’s “why” and mission is its “how.” Why does your practice exist? To provide every patient with a beautiful, healthy smile. How will your practice accomplish that? By delivering exceptional patient care. Vision, by the way, is how you see the world when you’re fulfilling your purpose, i.e., your practice can see a time when everyone will have access to great oral health care. It’s so important that practices clearly establish their purpose and rally their team around it. It’s the difference between waking up in the morning and thinking, “Today, I have to take 10 X-rays, perform 15 prophies, do two extractions…” and “Today, I get to make a difference in a patient’s life!” A practice’s purpose is a higher calling that motivates and encourages engagement.
If purpose is your practice’s North Star that guides everything you and your team does, then not identifying your purpose can lead to chaos and confusion. First, purpose helps keeps businesses focused and on track, even through staff turnover or leadership changes. Second, if you aren’t finding purpose in your work life, then you’ll seek it out on the weekends; there’s certainly nothing wrong with fulfilling your passion outside of work, but how wasteful is it that the other 67% of your week is feels purposeless? Finally, by not embracing its purpose, practices risk alienating a young, compassionate workforce. Generation Z has been polled to be the most purpose-seeking generation; they’re not looking for jobs, they’re looking for purpose.
Regarding Aristotle’s definition of the purpose of life—do good and be happy—if you’re doing good and you’re not happy, then you’re just tricking yourself. Find your purpose in life—and your practice—and change the world around you.
You can learn more about finding your purpose in business and in life at the 2018 Global Oral Health Summit in Dallas, Texas, Nov. 9-11, where I’ll be the keynote speaker for the opening session. Hope to see you there!
About Roy Spence
Roy is Co-Founder and Chairman of GSD&M, a leading marketing communications and advertising company. He is also Co-Founder and CEO of The Purpose Institute, a consulting firm that helps people and organizations discover and live their purpose.