The Importance of Abundance of Purpose

The Cecily Group has built its philosophy around the concept of the Four Abundances: Money, Time, Relationships, and Purpose. These pillars are essential for achieving a holistic and sustainable legacy for future generations. Among these, the Abundance of Purpose is particularly crucial as it directly impacts one’s motivation, sense of fulfillment, and ability to contribute meaningfully to society. Having a deep sense of meaning and direction in life is also a crucial factor in enhancing life satisfaction and promoting resilience.

Martela and Steger’s research (2016) highlights that an Abundance of Purpose positively correlates with higher life satisfaction, better mental health, and increased resilience. Specifically, meaningful engagement and contribution to others are strong predictors of these outcomes. Conversely, a lack of purpose can lead to feelings of emptiness, depression, and reduced motivation.

Dimensions of Purpose Wealth

Purpose wealth can be understood as a multifaceted framework of meaningful activities that can be broken down into four main dimensions:

  1. Meaningful Engagement: Meaningful engagement refers to participating in activities that align with one’s core values and passions. This is the foundational aspect of a sense of purpose, allowing individuals to feel that their actions are significant and impactful.
  2. Goal Alignment: Goal alignment involves setting and pursuing goals that resonate with one’s personal and professional aspirations. This alignment ensures that efforts are not wasted on activities that do not contribute to a greater sense of purpose.
  3. Contribution to Others: Contributing to the well-being of others is a key component of a sense of purpose. Acts of service and kindness foster a sense of connection and fulfilment, enhancing both personal and collective well-being.
  4. Growth and Development: Continuous growth and development are essential for maintaining a sense of purpose. This involves learning new skills, embracing challenges, and seeking personal and professional improvement.

Life Crafting as a Path to Purpose

In their paper “Life Crafting as a Way to Find Purpose and Meaning in Life,” Schippers and Ziegler (2019) discuss the structured process of life crafting as an effective method to discover and enhance one’s sense of purpose. Life crafting involves reflecting on one’s values, passions, and goals, and creating a concrete plan to achieve these goals. This process is grounded in positive psychology and salutogenesis, which focuses on factors that support human health and well-being.

Key Elements of Life Crafting

  1. Discovering Values and Passion: Identifying what one finds important and aligning it with personal passions.
  2. Reflecting on Competencies and Habits: Evaluating current habits and competencies and identifying areas for growth.
  3. Reflecting on Social Life: Assessing current relationships and envisioning desired social interactions.
  4. Career Reflection: Contemplating future career paths and work-life balance.
  5. Writing About the Ideal Future: Creating a vivid picture of one’s best possible self.
  6. Goal Setting and Planning: Formulating specific, actionable goals and strategies to overcome potential obstacles.
  7. Public Commitment: Making public commitments to personal goals to enhance accountability and motivation.

Family Purpose in Family Enterprises

Kendall Cotton Bronk’s research, summarised in “Family Purpose in Family Firms: What it Looks Like and Why it’s Important,” highlights the unique role of purpose in family businesses. Family firms face particular opportunities and challenges in cultivating purpose among family members who participate in the business.

The Family Purpose Project proposes a comprehensive definition: family purpose is a long-term goal shared across generations that becomes meaningful to younger generations as they form their plans to accomplish acts of consequence beyond themselves. This definition includes five key dimensions:

  1. Long-Term Intention: Family purpose represents a consistent focus and vision across generations.
  2. Meaningfulness: The purpose is significant to family members, driving active engagement.
  3. Historical and Future Consistency: The purpose is reflected in the family’s past, present, and future actions.
  4. Beyond the Family: The purpose targets causes outside the family, using business or proceeds to support valued causes.
  5. Shared by the Family: Most family members recognise and support the purpose as a significant vision.

Forms of Family Purpose

The study identified four distinct forms of family purpose:

  1. Clear Family Purpose: Demonstrated by all definitional criteria, often supported by religious or ethical values.
  2. Budding Family Purpose: Emerging among younger generations.
  3. Fading Family Purpose: Evident in older generations but not younger ones.
  4. No Clear Family Purpose: Individual commitments to public good without a shared focus.

A shared family purpose provides motivation to stay together and engage in meaningful activities, promoting family cohesion and contributing to both the family business and the public good.

Practical Implications

Families and organisations can create an environment conducive to nurturing a sense of purpose by encouraging meaningful engagement, goal alignment, and contributions to others. Tools and processes that support growth and development can further enhance a sense of purpose. These tools and strategies include:

    1. Creating a Family Council Canvas: our tool outlines the vision, values, and long-term goals of the family and the family business. It serves as a guiding document that helps align the actions of family members with the collective mission, fostering unity and a sense of purpose.
    2. Encouraging Personal Development: Investing in the personal development of family members ensures they have the skills and knowledge needed to pursue their goals. This includes providing access to educational resources, mentorship, and opportunities for personal growth.
    3. Promoting Volunteerism and Philanthropy: Encouraging family members to engage in volunteerism and philanthropic activities fosters a sense of purpose and connection to the broader community. These activities provide opportunities to make meaningful contributions and reinforce the value of service to others.
    4. Facilitating Open Communication: Creating a culture of open communication within the family promotes the sharing of personal goals and aspirations. Regular family meetings and discussions ensure that each member’s sense of purpose is acknowledged and supported.
    5. Leveraging Technology for Purpose Alignment: Using technology to track and align personal and family goals can enhance Purpose Wealth. Tools such as goal-setting apps, project management systems, and communication platforms help families stay organised and focused on their collective mission.
    6. Recognising and Celebrating Achievements: Acknowledging and celebrating individual and collective achievements reinforces a sense of purpose and motivation. Regular recognition of milestones and successes boosts morale and encourages the continued pursuit of meaningful goals.
    7. Alternative Creative Outlet: For family members whose passion does not align with the primary family business interests or may even contradict its purpose, engaging in purpose-driven activities outside the business can provide a creative outlet and a sense of fulfilment.

Conclusion

The Abundance of Purpose is a critical component of the Four Abundances framework. By understanding and fostering the drivers and consequences of purpose, families can ensure the successful transfer of their legacy to future generations while enhancing the life quality of their members. The Cecily Group is committed to helping families achieve this balance, providing the tools and guidance necessary to navigate the complexities of purpose alignment and meaningful engagement.

References:

Martela, F., & Steger, M. F. (2016). The three meanings of meaning in life: Distinguishing coherence, purpose, and significance. Journal of Positive Psychology, 11(5), 531-545. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2015.1137623.

Schippers, M. C., & Ziegler, N. (2019). Life Crafting as a Way to Find Purpose and Meaning in Life. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 2778. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17439760.2015.1137623.

Bronk, K. C. (2022). Family Purpose in Family Firms: What it Looks Like and Why it’s Important. FFI Practitioner. Available at: https://ffipractitioner.org/family-purpose-in-family-firms-what-it-looks-like-and-why-its-important/.