October 8th, 2014

Meaning in the Purpose Economy

By Ron Nakamoto


Originally shared by +Ron Nakamoto

Meaning in the Purpose Economy

I recently met Aaron Hurst, author of “The Purpose Economy”, at a meeting on impact investing. Impact investing promises to combine traditional philanthropy with investments in for-profit businesses that have a worthy cause built into their business model. For me, “Purpose” in this context suggests a cause that’s of benefit to others either directly or indirectly through the environment or sustaining life through technology, research, etc. As the meeting was ending, I asked Aaron what the difference might be between “meaning” and “purpose”. He replied that for him, they are synonymous; that they are interchangeable.

Lee Brower and I had just completed a book review of “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. What was on my mind was Frankl’s assertion that one can find meaning in work

(doing something significant), in love (caring for another person), and in courage during difficult times. To me, this suggested the possibility that purpose and meaning could be aligned or separate and distinctly different, depending upon the individual. In other words, it would be difficult to have meaning in one’s life and yet have no purpose in the related activities. But it might be possible to have a well-regarded purpose such as providing basic necessities or services to people in need without a deeply felt sense of meaning. The Arbinger Institute might call this a “must be seen as” box; a way of hiding a “worse than” way of being.

I’ve tentatively concluded that, for me, “meaning” drives “purpose”. What about for you?



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