Has Your Company Lost its Soul?

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Has Your Company Lost its Soul?

“The great challenge of adulthood is holding on to your idealism after you lose your innocence.”
— Bruce Springsteen

The Idea: :  I’m inspired by organizations and people with soul!  Starbuck’s CEO Howard Schultz once shared “Success is not sustainable if it is defined by how big you become or by growth for growth’s sake. Success is very shallow if it doesn’t have emotional meaning.”  He goes further stating “It was not the calling of coffee, but the calling to try to build a company that my father never got a chance to work for.”  Organizations with soul matter in the eyes of consumers, and often are its most compelling and attractive asset.   The research shows that people leave bosses, not companies and consumers will discard a brand because they disagree with the social views of the founder.  Soul-searching continues to grow in importance with us all.

What’s the soul of your company? It’s not created; it’s uncovered.  The most attractive organizations are fueled by story; embracing a calling other than padding the bottom line.  These special organizations create meaning for all involved.  I have worked with many companies that were financially productive but not significant.  The most significant organizations are driven by a calling, shared values and soul!

Many organizations are short on soul, but if you look you can find it in the most unlikely places.  You find it in businesses, teams and the arts.  You see it with Springsteen.

The story goes, Springsteen uncovered deeper purpose shortly after the 1980 “The River” tour.  He shares “I thought perhaps mapping…the distance between the American dream and American reality might be my service, one I could provide that would accompany the entertainment and the good times I brought my fans. I hoped it might give roots and mission to our band.” Part of his mission has been to chronical the “gap” between the American dream and the American reality.

During this era of refining his work he discovered his mission.  He was pregnant with this idea for more than a decade, but gave birth to it only after it was fully formed.  Purpose is normally not discovered; it’s uncovered and it’s running mate is self-doubt.

Springsteen’s story is filled with an inner spirit, yet embraces bouts of depression, anxiety, and inconsistencies coupled with waves of self-doubt.  A larger calling animates the band, his music and his writing.  I see this with numerous companies that I admire including Kind, Chobani, Warby Parker, Seventh Generation, Sundial Brands, Starbucks, Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang-intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world.

We are starved for companies with a soul: organizations that have created meaning, financial vitality and a culture that pulls out the best in their associates.  Does your organization have soul?

“At the end of every hard-earned day, people find some reason to believe.”  — Bruce Springsteen

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