Studs Terkel once said, "Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread..."
If, then, a good idea for a business is one that serves the most people best, it would appear that we in the United States have some soul searching to do, because there's something missing in most of our businesses.
And that something is meaning.
It can't be denied that too many of our businesses have become killing fields of the spirit.
How have we let this come to pass?
Is it our failure to understand the true role business has come to play in our lives?
Is it our failure to truly listen to the people we come into contact with every day?
Is it our bias for serving our own special interests, for our raw, insatiable drive to get more and more of the material things we think we need?
Yes, my friends, for all these failures of the human spirit, we, and the businesses we create and work in, have missed the deeper message.
To truly soar, especially in a challenging economy, a business must mean more than just money.
More than just "things."
More than what's easy.
More than careers, inventory, production statistics, ROI, management by objectives, pensions, profit sharing, "golden parachutes," and current trends and fashions.
To achieve some measure of greatness, a business must somehow rise above the one-dimensional symbols and empty rituals of our everyday existence.
To truly attract the greatest amount of force and attention--to fully seize its potential--your business and the idea behind it must strike much deeper.
It must strike our imagination.
It must touch a strong, resonant, and resilient chord in the hearts of all those people it serves.
It must use its energy in a profound, intelligent, and compassionate way.
It must reach beyond the trivial, the coarse, the ordinary, the mundane.
It must give us more life.
It must become a presence impossible to ignore.
It must touch the dying part of each and every one of us and raise us to some higher place.
It must become heroic in everything it does.
Does this sound like a Herculean task, beyond your--or anyone's--capability?
Amazingly, it's not.
It begins with a person--perhaps you--with a true entrepreneurial spirit, who is obsessed with the idea of creating a business that can actually transform people's lives.
I call this The Dream--The Dream with a Great Result.
From The Dream comes The Vision, the business model you will use to fulfill The Dream, and The Purpose, the specific result you will deliver to every customer.
Finally comes The Mission, which is your dedication and commitment to building the systems necessary to achieve your Dream, Vision and Purpose.
It is through the System that the "meaning" moves from abstract to concrete, something that can be felt and experienced by every customer, every employee, and every other stakeholder.
It is through the System that your business becomes heroic in everything it does.