Make Meaning First, Not Money!

We have heard that money is not a good motivator, but I have to disagree. Money certainly has the power to motivate people and companies into action, everyone has a price! However, money often lacks the ability to give people or companies focus and determination.

For me, motivation is like coffee, it gets you moving in the morning but unless you plan to continue to drink excessive amounts it won’t keep you going the wee hours of the morning. It is really my sense of purpose and meaning that gives me the determination to keep going.

Knowing that your work is important beyond the bottom line is far more sustainable.  It reminds us that there is more to life than just making money.

But what is meaning or purpose, really?

It doesn’t have to be something far-reaching and world-changing.

Your purpose might just to make the world a better place for yourself or your family. Purpose is your mission with the goal usually being a sense of movement and progression in life.

Guy Kawasaki, who has been a guiding star for me, touches on this importance of this in the video below.

Cliffs Notes

The essence of entrepreneurship is to make meaning.
Guy Kawasaki

  • Companies that are fundamentally founded to make the world a better place are the companies that make a difference and succeed.
  • If you make meaning, you will probably make money; if you set out to make money, you probably won’t make money or meaning.
  • Three ways to make meaning:
    • 1)Increasethe quality of life.
      • In the Macintosh division of Apple, the team was not motivated by making money. Their mission was to make people more creative and productive.
      • This mission was highly motivating and kept the team going through many difficult periods. The team work up in the morning and wondered how the team could change people’s lives.
    • 2) Right a wrong.
      • Notice something is wrong in the world and go about fixing that wrong.
    • 3) Prevent the end of something good.
      • You see something beautiful and you cannot stand to see it eroded, being changed, being ruined.
  • If you don’t have one of the three meanings above, seriously re-think what you are doing and what you want your organization’s purpose to be.

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