Purposeful human beings: Elevating our collective purpose

By Maggie Crespo Mijares, Project Executive- Somos Quiero/ Sustainable Brands Madrid

There is a thought-provoking interpretation of Aristoteles philosophy which proposes that our purpose in life is to achieve happiness. For Aristoteles, happiness is not something that can be gained or lost in a few hours, like pleasurable sensations. It is more like the ultimate value of your life as lived up to this moment, measuring how well you have lived up to your full potential as a human being [1]. Life doesn’t just happen, it becomes a reality only if we make it possible because purpose is a choice we make day to day. How is it that we relate to our purpose as human beings in an organization? These Sustainable Brands Madrid sessions enlightened us with a broad vision from different professionals in their day to day challenges towards a deeper understanding of their role in life, in the organization and as humanity.

Human beings have the ability to connect to purpose individually, in any role and in any type of job. Arthur Woods, Co-Founder of Imperative, shared that there is also a neurological implication on people connecting to purpose on work. When people are connected to purpose, their brain stablishes social bonding and trust and it activates the pituitary gland [2]. People are looking for deep meaningful relations, in creating impact by doing and finally growing in a personal professional way. Nevertheless, we have built a cultural work around money and status and this has created a separation from our core basis of understanding why we are here and why are we doing what we are doing.

Sirikul Laukaikul, Brand Strategist & Sustainability Advisor of BrandBeing Consultancy, considers there are there are only two kind of people in the world: for some people, what they have is not enough, other people they never  have enough. To be sustainable and achieve a balance, Sirikul presented the Sufficiency Economy philosophy, which proposes how everyone should have enough to survive and enough to sustain. To do so, one of the primordial pillars is being moderate; in learning, how to say “I have enough”; learning to go beyond material into a point of self-realization. It is like having a glass of water, you will know how much  you should pour in, how much you will drink to be satisfied and how much you will leave to share with the rest. “I cannot tell you how much you should drink …it is up to you to determine”. Sirikul relates to water as resources, our own self-consciousness and awareness of a vivid developing world.

In this path towards this purposeful discovery of one self, there are various movements that reclaim that the center is no longer on the product or on the service, it is on the people, and their capacity of collaborating and doing things. Luis Tamayo, Knowledge Director of Somos Quiero exposed how “When taking away the labels we put on people, purposeful citizens appear”. When appreciating the essence of the person, collaboration is produced between business, organizations and citizens. Interaction appears in a different level. Within time, there has always been dialogues, conversations, relations but not direct interaction. Direct interaction means putting everyone together towards one same objective which produces a community. Roles are inverted, reinvented or just created for people to be part of the focal orientation, not just the benefit.

Rodrigo de Salas joined us with his experience as Corporate Communication & CSR Director of Leroy Merlin, revealing that “people have more power than ever, and we as a brand can collaborate and build with them”. Leroy Merlin has complemented the traditional sales and commerce model with an inverse model: providing people the opportunity to create in a DIY maker space with activities and assessment from LM. “We asked ourselves: am I interested in you on a transactional level or on a personal level”? Rodrigo is certain and believes that companies have become enablers. The role of the company is no longer dominating and leading dialogue, but summing up to initiatives led by other people.

The purposeful human being is conscious of a broader experience of coexisting with other people and embracing change. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Founder and Editor in Chief of Muslim-Girl shared with us how in her view people tend to get caught up in comfort zones making the world seem smaller. “We have to be reminded that there is a whole world out there, people coexisting, living.” Amani started MuslimGirl.net with the vision of breaking stereotypes around Muslim women, reshifting the attention of the media and amplifying the views, need and desires of the actual Muslim women. She emphasises in her speech the shift in power towards people: “everyone should be very mindful of their own power of creating change.” Everyone should analyse what power has available through your resources and capabilities: as consumers, as voters, as human being in the face of the issues taking place around us.

Even though we are not in a constant election, we are creating a vote every day, with our time, our community, our resources. Within the last years we have understood that those votes or the absence of them have created a negative impact. Our capacity of creating change can depend only on the scope of the 5 people we are closest to, as an immediate opportunity of sharing views and ideas towards a mindset change.

Was Aristoteles ahead of his time? How would you measure your life up to this point? Worthful of achieving happiness? In the words of Ryan Gellert, General Manager Europe of Patagonia: “Purpose is a choice, it is super simple to remember…If you work in a company where the issues you believe in are not important to your boss and not important to your colleagues, find a new company. Life is too short to diminish your passion in being stuck in something you don’t believe in.” The choices we make every day can have positive impact if we center them around humility and humanity, characteristics that are in the basis of our essence but somehow have been removed from.

A good life, a flourishing life, a fulfilled and worthwhile life… There is no time to loose.

[1] http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/aristotle/

[2] Arthur Woods, Co-Founder, Imperative future.

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By Maggie Crespo Mijares

Project Executive at Somos Quiero / Sustainable Brands Madrid