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The search of a sense of self is the driving force behind value and impact creation.

Finding a purpose is a concern for 9 out of 10 people. Also, changing the economic system to better respect the social and ecological limits of our Planet mobilizes the public a bit more each day. Businesses have a tremendous opportunity to use these two powerful energies as a driving force for building a new responsible economy.

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Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho | Unsplash

We are 9 out of 10 people in “search of meaning at work”.

A 2017 study conducted by a major consulting firm describes what employees mean by “meaning at work”: respect for values, usefulness of assignments, ethics, understanding of the tasks to be accomplished and contribution to something greater than oneself.

Work is still seen as a means of providing for one’s financial needs, but it is also increasingly seen as a way of responding to a desire for self-fulfillment.

More and more employees expect the company that employs them to focus not only on achieving financial results, but also on humanizing work, improving working conditions and measuring social and environmental responsibility.

This shift in thinking patterns is beginning to change the labour market and traditional societies. If we consider that Millenials were born between 1980 and 2000, they now represent 50% of the working population. Being aware of the failure of the models in place, they are much more concerned about harmony, well-being, fulfilment and work-life balance than the previous generations.

Thus, for more than 80% of them, according to some studies, the success of a company is measured by its capacity for commitment and contribution to social progress. And it is the companies that prove this commitment and contribution that can hire them first. Meaning becomes a key factor in attracting talent.

6 million students mobilized for the “School Strike for Climate”.

The media coverage of increasingly alarming scientific reports on climate (IPCC) or biodiversity (IPBES) has triggered a phenomenon of citizen mobilization in recent years. 47% of Europeans and 42% of the French think that climate change is the main challenge facing humanity. Social challenges are also at the heart of concerns.

The year 2019 highlighted a very strong acceleration of this awareness: extreme climatic phenomena (heat waves, fires, droughts, floods…), coupled with the strong media coverage of Greta Thunberg, have led to a wave of actions in favor of climate action.

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic put a de facto end to the movement. But at the end of the year, some associations called for a remobilization, around actions of civil disobedience turning against both governments and companies.

For many activists, the search for meaning leads them to advocate anti-capitalism, anti-liberalism and degrowth.

The search for meaning generates a mobilization that should be channeled.

The search for a sense of self at work is becoming a recurring subject of growing importance. Reconversions are becoming more and more common, as are voluntary actions aimed at Mentoring social enterprises or helping impact associations.

On the other hand, the most mediatized and mobilizing actions are mainly climate marches, civil disobedience actions, demonstrations or, following the example of Greta Thunberg, mediatized invectives denouncing political inaction and demanding that leaders do their job.

This obviously contributes to awareness. To mediate a subject allows to propagate it and to make it real for the greatest number of people. But this generates little or no concrete action and in fact, no or few tangible positive results.

Extreme inequalities and extreme problems often lead to extreme responses. The social, ecological and economic crisis we are experiencing is extreme.

Today, politics and business bring more words than actions and regularly hide behind greenwashing bullshit. Wages in the social economy are on average 15% to 20% lower than in the private sector. Remuneration is very often uncorrelated with utility. When playing by the rules to change the system seems to lead to little or even no value creation or impact, how can we blame activists for wishing for its destruction? We may or may not agree with the rhetoric or ways of doing things, but an effect always has an underlying cause.

By proving by example that there is a will, that we can build a new virtuous and sustainable system that is not only the opposite extreme of the current one, we will be able to channel this mobilization. And it is by federating this huge energy, which is just waiting to be used, that we will create both value and impact.

Let’s make the search for meaning the driving force behind the creation of value and impact.

It is by putting meaning at the heart of our thoughts and actions that we will mobilize the greatest number of people. And it is by mobilizing the greatest number of people that we will find better solutions and accelerate the transition to a virtuous and responsible system.

According to Simon Sinek, humans tend by default to go from the most concrete to the most abstract, from the easiest to the hardest and from the most obvious to the most conceptual. In what he calls the “Golden Circle”, we have a strong propensity to start with the “what” to define the “how” and finally determine the “why”.

However, putting the “why” in the center of the circle and starting with the sense we want to give to our action allows us to better define our “how” and to do the right “what” to ultimately achieve our real objective.

People and companies that put the “why” at the center are more inspiring and easier to mobilize and federate around their initiatives. This also increases productivity: it is easier to work effectively when we clearly understand what we need to do and why we need to do it. It also facilitates creativity: it is easier to find relevant solutions and to treat the causes rather than the symptoms when a problem is clear and well defined. And in the end, being more inspiring, more productive and more creative will make us happier.

Maintaining the balance in this “Golden Circle” over time is a daily challenge, but it allows us to maintain our authenticity, balance, inspiration and ability to generate relevant results in what we do.

The mobilization to reject the current system is massive. The search for a sense of self is a priority for the majority of the population. Answering a “why” and giving meaning to what we do creates value and impact. Companies have a great opportunity to crack the codes and invent a new sustainable system. It’s all there.

So let’s use this search for meaning as a driving force to break out of our current thinking patterns and build an economy that is both responsible and profitable.



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