The Purpose of Life, Especially Business Life




What is the purpose of life? This is a great question, one that does not get asked enough and certainly does not get answered adequately enough. How does the purpose of life interact with and affect business ownership? Are these things related? Need they be? If they are… how so?


The purpose of life is to find and pursue our interests successfully. That’s what it’s all about. And when that is somehow prevented, all sorts of unhappiness, emotional misery, depression and even fits of rage can occur. Truly and undeniably, chronic, bone crushing frustration is a terrible thing. At work chronic frustration and low productivity is what often puts a business out of business, or even worse, cause a business owner to succumb to life’s greatest temptation which is to settle for less.



All of us have NEEDS and WANTS. We certainly do. When we get our needs satisfied we start going after our wants.


What do we NEED? We have two kinds.


First, we have physical or tangible NEEDS. We need breathable air, drinkable water, decent food, clothing, shelter, and health, both physical and mental, and a temperate climate, one that’s not too hot and not too cold and is free from radioactivity.


Second, we have emotional or intangible NEEDS. We need to feel competent, that we are good at something that matters to people, good enough and public enough that we are recognized for our talent and skill. We need to feel significant, that we make a difference. And we need to feel loved or at least lovable or at the very least, respected.


Everything else in life that we might seek or go after is a WANT, a desire, but not a need. And the getting or securing of some of the things we want helps us improve the quality and quantity of some of the things we need and generally get the more under our control as well.


Needs and wants, wants and needs, it’s a circularity type of thing.


So, what do we WANT? We want MONEY because money is instrumental in the getting of all things, both needs and wants. When we get money by working, we get success, recognition, respect and yes, even love sometimes because when we have enough money we can focus our attention on forming meaningful relationships.


Does purpose matter in our business life? Oh yeah, big time. We even have a special name for purpose when attached to a business. We call it MISSION.



After we get these things we want then we’re on the meaning trail. Do we get meaning from food? No. Do we get meaning from clothes? No. Some people say clothes make the man, but we don’t get meaning from clothes we just get fancy clothes. And shelter, well shelter can make us comfortable and maybe give us status, but it can’t give us meaning. Meaning is a consequence of the things we say and do. Meaning comes from the results generated by our behavior as we strive for success. Now we’re right back to the place we started.


Identifying and pursuing interests that we have—and doing so successfully—that’s what gives our life meaning. What we’re looking for is success, because success at something in which we have keen interest gives us meaning. We achieve success through behavior, things we say and things we do. So, in the end, it is success at things attached to our interest, that’s what we really want. That’s what gives us the feeling of competence and significance.




There are three reasons why we sometimes don’t achieve more success in our business. Reason number one: we have no strategic plan of any kind. Reason number two: we have a plan, but we don’t implement it. Reason number three: we implement our plan, but it does not work, does not make us enough money.


Think about the importance of a plan. If we get into our car and decide to drive to Florida, and we take no map or compass and we pay no attention to road signs and we never ask anyone for directions, we won’t ever get there. We’ll be lost forever. And yet people do this in the business all the time. They wander and ramble around aimlessly, haphazardly and wonder why they’re frustrated and considerably less than happy about their lack of positive results and success. For our business to succeed, we need a plan, we must implement our plan and our plan has to work. Common sense.


So how do we get more of what we want at work and in life too?


Author Brian Tracey, a guy I really like, wrote the following two paragraphs on this very subject in a newsletter to which I subscribe.


Have you been taught how to succeed? The most common question I’m asked is, “What’s the most important ingredient to success?” And my answer is ALWAYS the same: You need a strategic plan that works, and you must implement it successfully. According to, a strategic plan is a systematic process of envisioning a desired future and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them. So, do you have one?


Have you ever wondered how you can become more satisfied in life – how you can enjoy life more than ever? Well, simple clarity accounts for probably 80% of success and happiness. Lack of clarity is more responsible for frustration and underachievement than any other single factor. That’s why we say that SUCCESS IS GOALS AND ALL ELSE IS COMMENTARY. People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine. This is true everywhere and under all circumstances. You could even say that the three keys to high achievement are, Clarity, Clarity, Clarity, regarding your goals. Your success in life will be largely determined by how clear you are about what it is you really, really want.


Tracey is dead on right. To win in all our business activities we need goals and a decent game plan and clarity, and we must be able to successful implement our plans. Successful implementation matters in business and in sports and in life too. We must play well, everywhere, all the time.


“Play great or get beat.” ~Jim Harbaugh, former Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers Football Team


How to play and therefore be better at everything: Set better goals, talk more convincingly, close more deals and make more money. It’s all about the thinking we do, the words we use, the helpful input we seek and accept, the persuasion tactics we employ and how well we formulate and execute strategy. We work on this stuff at every Master-Mind Alliance meeting and always will, because pursuing our interests and doing so successfully is what life is all about.