Over the last month, I’ve gotten to visit two alma maters and share my story with students. One of the things I often get asked is how I’ve translated my degrees into the work I’m doing now.
I talk about theatre, collaboration, and storytelling skills the most, but I also mention that my literature background helps me, almost daily, tie points together into clear reasoning for the choices I make.
If you’re running a purpose-driven business, that’s what it’s all about. Each time you make a decision, you align it back to your Core strategy in a way that effectively advances your purpose.
It’s easier to say than it is to do, particularly when you’re dealing with a big picture decision that’s going to affect multiple stakeholders and/or multiple parts of your mission.
But like good writing, it’s all in the revision. The more you refine your internal logic, the more likely it will lead to focused, deliberate decision-making.
Here are three essay elements to give you a different way to develop your reasoning:
1.The Thesis Statement
Your purpose statement is a lot like your thesis. A thesis statement puts forward a premise to be maintained or proven. It’s the fundamental base of your whole argument.
When I wrote papers regularly, I had a habit of using a placeholder thesis. I’d write the rest of the paper, refine it, and then write the final thesis statement. This approach ensured that my thesis statement was acute and well supported.
You can do the same thing with your purpose. You should be developing it and the rest of your Core strategy from the top down and bottom up, taking into account the perspectives of your stakeholders — especially your customers and your team.
This isn’t to say you should build your whole company and tack a purpose on later, rather that your purpose should be as authentic, deeply rooted, and as valuable as possible.
2. The Support
If you’re going to analyze a piece of literature and build an argument about it, you have to identify points in the text to back it up. Running a purpose-driven business works much the same way. If you’re going to get multiple parts to all work together toward one North Star, you need to be able to cite why you’re investing your resources — especially your time — into the things you’re doing.
Moreover, you need to think about how you define success and what methods you use to measure it. In the essay game, these metrics would be the specific quotes that ground your argument, or in short, the proof. Keep in mind that measuring metrics and explaining your methods for assessing performance will be quantitative and qualitative.
3. The “So What” Factor
I was taught that a conclusion to a good paper includes a “So What?” factor. It produces a stronger paper because the conclusion not only wraps up the argument concisely, it tells you why the argument matters.
As an impact leader, you should always be looking for the “So What” factor. That can be found in more routine decisions like “Do we or do we not say yes to this opportunity,” as well as bigger picture decisions like “What outcomes are we striving to achieve.”
Once you’ve tied everything back to your purpose and know that you’re acting in a deliberate way, the “So What” factor adds the punch that impact is all about.
The purpose-driven model is about having a valuable reason for existing and a clear understanding of why that matters. It’s a strategy that forces you to concentrate your focus to maximize your impact. The more regularly you cite your reasons for why you’re doing what you’re doing and how it ties back to your purpose, the more likely you are to do what matters.
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Originally published at https://katieburkhart.me on April 18, 2021.