9 Purposeful living

More and more we see people consider the purpose of the things they are doing. The time they spend on anything is carefully measured and weighed against other things that could be done instead. It all needs to serve a purpose. And one that they can explain and justify at least to themselves if not to their friends and family as well

There is a risk that we only see this trend in the light of the searching for a things that could be associated with religion. However, even though that might be a part of it, it is not its sole focus. One of the most important balances people are trying to find is the one between their work and their private life. Another one that has been getting a lot of attention has been the balance between a consumption-oriented lifestyle against the effects that lifestyle has on everything around us. Purposeful living for many means that they ensure those balances lean towards their own preference. Unfortunately, as every balance is personal, there is no right and wrong here. However, in general we see that a good private life is valued higher these days and that people are willing to sacrifice income, status and even career options to spend time with their families or make other choices outside of the office. In the same manner, we see that there is a tendency to weigh choices partly on the effect they will have on what is around us. The environment being an obvious example of this, where it is getting less and less appreciated to buy the biggest car possible, but it is appreciated to buy a model which uses less fuel and has a lower impact on its surroundings. Those are the obvious balances, but they are not the only ones by far.
Does your organization or your product need to fit one of these balances? Do you need to get out of your way to make sure you do? Well, not really. The thing is that you probably already fit right into a balance which people use to measure their choices. The only thing you need to do is to determine what that balance is and what the other options are. From there goes the route to demonstrate on what side of the balance you are and how a choice for you benefits your audience. This is going to be your best approach to reach the people who are considering your product, services or projects.

Danny is a highly sought after technician. He has skills that enable him to do things with electronics that few other technicians can. He enjoys his work and loves to exceed the expectations of his clients when dealing with their problems. As a result, Danny is one of the best employees his boss has got. Whatever the problem, he knows that when he sends Danny, it always gets sorted and well within the time set by the planning office. Danny loves his sports. He has been playing football for as long as he can remember. He was always one of the first ones to be picked at school and still is a team leader for his own team and coaches two junior teams. At the football club everybody loves Danny. He has his heart in the right place and is always there for the club and the people around the club. So far, this is the story of my or your neighbor. Where it gets interesting is when we look at Danny’s boss. Danny just met Jamie and they are getting serious, so Danny wants to be able to spend more time with her. But he does not want to give up on his commitment to the club. However, he has always done at least 60 hour workweeks for his boss, because he loved his job. So Danny turns to his boss and tells him that he is no longer going to do the extra work and that he would love to be able to work more flexible hours with more personal responsibility. That hits the boss hard. Danny is his most profitable employee. Without the extra hours, the profit ratio of the company is going to go down. There are now two options. One would be to refuse and to try to get Danny to still do the extra hours with a tighter control on what he delivers in what timespan. This tips the balance towards work, something we know Danny is not going to like. The other would be to agree and give Danny the freedom he asks for. In this situation, choosing the latter option will prove the best. This tips the balance towards Danny’s private life which he will appreciate a lot. And in reality we often see that when a balance gets tipped towards the side we prefer, that the results are unexpected. In this kind of case it has been shown that often productivity goes up. That means that it could well be that after two months the boss finds out that Danny has done more work in less time than he did before, making the company equally profitable.

Remember Alice of the city council? She set up a community for people to help solve other people’s problems. Getting people to commit time to this project has always been hard. The main reason for this has been that it has always been shown as something you only do for the other person. In her project the balance was always favoring the other and showing no benefit for the participant. Now that she has that established, she can see that she needs to change the proposition. She needs to show that there is a balance in the community. That by contributing to the solutions for others, you contribute to solutions for your own problems as well.

For your product, your service, your projects or your organization it is just the same. Find out what you are about and what kind of balances you fit into. Then find the one that matches your target audience most and how you tip the balance for them. You might want to rephrase what you do to show them clearly that you can tip the balance in their favor.

This post is part of a series on 10 social trends that can help you get your point across. For more information or a tailored advice on what could be your opportunities, get in touch on arne@arnehulstein.nl

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