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Navigating Purpose

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

Aged 22, Jay Shetty turned down highly desired corporate job offers—leaving behind bewildered friends and family—to become a monk. 3 years later, he ditched this isolated, celibate life to launch his entrepreneurial career in a bustling city. Did he fail in being a monk? Absolutely not. Today, he shares his acquired wisdom with millions of followers, teaching them how to lead more peaceful, purposeful lives. Shetty embodies the core monastic principle: service.

Elegantly, Shetty conveys the crux of service: ‘to leave a place cleaner than we found it, people happier than we found them, the world better than we found it’. In a civilisation of competition and greed, such things are easy to overlook or shun. Crucially, these vows of integrity provide a blueprint for Purpose.

What does Purpose mean for Positive? It’s at the heart of our 5 P’s Compass: so, it must be important. Planet, People, Partners and Place are guided and flourish from this centre. Certainly, our purpose aligns with leaving people happier and the world better. There’s beauty in simplicity. But Positive springs further, growing and cultivating this purposive seed deep into companies’ mindsets—watering and nourishing it—so it may blossom into the perennial of human enterprise. Our purpose is self-transcendent, rather than misguided self-actualisation. This simply means a cause which takes you beyond yourself; committing selflessly without need for self-validation. The Purpose is valid enough.

There’s shepherd’s pie, then there’s your mother’s homemade shepherd’s pie. Likewise, there’s ready-made, insipid purpose—and there’s authentic, love-laboured Purpose. At Positive, we champion the latter. These distinctions highlight today’s chasm between sustainability and Regeneration, with talk of purpose exhausted by tokenistic sustainable spiel for over a decade. Real purpose has no short-cuts. The path is meandering, often obstructed and unclear, through dark thickets, but the final view: breath-taking. Rather than linear, authentic Purpose is transformational, defined by inner growth and accomplishments no one could foresee.

“Morally, as beings of higher intelligence, we must care for this world”

The fourteenth Dalai Lama

As beings of higher intelligence, morally, we must forge purpose-driven companies with Regeneration built into organisational DNA. Serving a Higher Purpose, Regenerative companies inherently reap potential for exponential growth and evolutionary transformation. What kind of employers do we want to work for? Mission-led and altruistic undoubtedly at the fore; financial gain a by-product of a job, truly, well done. Perhaps this sounds impractical and idealistic? In some ways it is, but the alternative—dallying with extinction—is no alternative. The (exploitative) Fortune 500 of today must rise to this challenge to be the (Regenerative) Fortune 500 of tomorrow.

Aside from saving the Earth, restoring natural capital enhances social capital. Logically, companies who do more good—think Patagonia—are more popular. Recent studies confirm 79% of consumers are more loyal to purpose-led brands than those motivated by money. They are more likely to recommend them to a friend, promote their content online, forgive such companies for a mistake. Caring goes a long way.

Not to mention, staff retention is significantly higher: millennials are 5.3 times more likely to stay on if identified with their company purpose. As we witness unprecedented levels of workplace stress, value-based work counters this epidemic, boosting self-esteem, self-worth and wellbeing. It fosters genuinely interdependent, collaborative community and enhances emotional intelligence. As companies translate good intentions and commitments into action, we move beyond our current climate pre-traumatic stress moment of inertia and panic.

To every business venture interrogating: how can we get closer to the customer? Create relevance? Meet needs? The contaminated soils, polluted oceans, logged rainforests, burning lands need us. The real million-dollar question: how can we get closer to nature? Earth service eclipses customer service. Positive founding member, SEEDS, offers a compelling case study.

“The ignorant work for their own profit...the wise work for the welfare of the world”

The Bhagavad Gita

SEEDS is a payment platform and financial ecosystem to heal our planet. Where Bitcoin prices skyrocket with demand in a pyramid scheme of hyper-speculation, concentrating wealth into fewer hands, facilitating anonymous (often unscrupulous) transactions; SEEDS generate more currency with demand—thus is more stable—to fund purely Regenerative projects. Their motto: ‘Good deeds get seeds’. Simple, not simplistic.

Our current financial system incentivises Earth degradation. This system is the foundation of our society, mining human will and energy. It serves the most ruthless among us; those 8 richest men who own more than half the world’s population. SEEDS rewire this gross inequality and ecocide, providing genuine profit and incentives for Regeneration, funding initiatives which typically go unrewarded; cleaning rivers, planting forests, establishing resilient local food chains. Evolving organically, the more who trade through this purpose-led platform, the more decentralised and equitable it becomes, combined with the greater the rate of Regeneration. Each transaction compounds value, rather than plundering it from our future.

This conscious currency is ‘a movement owned by no-one and designed for everyone’. SEEDS is built through the decentralised autonomous organisation, Hypha, using open source code and complete transparency, enabling anyone to contribute and get paid for doing so. It is a model for new governance systems, transitioning into a restorative culture, in which value is delivered exactly as we choose. To best serve and empower humanity, communities decide how they want collective wealth spent. Instead of reforming our current parasitic system, SEEDS render it obsolete: shifting the paradigm we operate within—so we think in terms of generations, not quarters. It hails an Economic Renaissance with Purpose and Regeneration at its heart.

“Profit is like the air we breathe. We need air to live, but we don’t live to breathe”

Frederic Laloux

So, let’s take a deep breath, exhale, and realise why we are here: our common Purpose. After years dwelling in an ashram, Jay Shetty resolved to live to serve. Companies like SEEDS express a higher evolutionary purpose, delighting in serving people and planet. At Positive, we thrive to serve our founding mission-led members—sharing tools and nous—so they continue to serve and thrive within their communities.

Positive’s Compass provides a direction of travel, rather than place of protest. Navigated by Purpose, compassionately and elegantly, wavemakers ripple waves and changemakers surge change.


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