Commit to something bigger than yourself
Imagine a mission so powerful that you’d commit 3 decades of your life to it.
My friend John has spent 30 years working to put humans on Mars.
In 2018—his 30th year working for NASA—two of his spacecraft successfully travelled 280 million miles to Mars.
That’s what Peter Diamandis calls a Massively Transformative Purpose.
The world currently faces a daunting list of global challenges, but with a Massively Transformative Purpose, people and science and technology can come together to create big solutions.
We’ve witnessed it happen over the past year. The fight against COVID-19 saw vaccine development move at record speed, with more vaccines in trial than ever before for an infectious disease. And the biggest vaccination campaign in history has now begun, with more than 90.8 million doses in 62 countries already administered.
Setting out to solve big problems brings a sense of purpose and meaning to your work and your life. And when people have a cause big enough they can move mountains.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech to persuade the American people to support a national effort to land a man on the Moon. It was an impossible goal. Yet, within 7 years that mission was accomplished.
When he visited NASA, Kennedy complimented a janitor for the spotless hallway. “Mr President,” replied the janitor, “I’m not cleaning the halls, I’m helping put a man on the moon…”
That’s the power of a Massively Transformative Purpose. It enrolls people you haven’t even met.
After the killing of George Floyd, in 2020, there were worldwide protests. Over 2,000 cities in the US and around the world saw demonstrations against inequality, police brutality, systemic racism towards Black people in the United States—and demanding justice for George Floyd.
One of my clients coaches a leader at a big corporation. Instead of watching events unfold and feeling powerless, they made a decision to make a massive difference. Within a few months, and with the support of their coach, they had organized for a multi-million dollar donation to support students at a historically black university in the United States. That’s the power of a Massively Transformative Purpose.
An exponential organization
Salim Ismail describes an Exponential Organization as one whose impact is disproportionally large—at least 10 x larger—compared to its peers.
Ismail proposes that it’s the use of exponential technology that allows an organization to disproportionality scale its impact.
I’ve no doubt that’s true. But I also believe in the power of people. As Margaret Mead once said,
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
I have a team of just four people and yet we’ve built a community of over 25,000 coaches. We’ve launched many of the world’s most successful and exclusive coaches. And we attract successful, ambitious and talented leaders who coach successful, ambitious and talented leaders.
We coach beyond our weight.
I launched my newest program recently. Transition Excellence helps high-level executives become high-level coaches.
I asked the members to share a professional accomplishment they are proud of. I was in awe of their responses. Here’s just a few of them:
- Responsible for the IT transformation of a $17 billion company
- Created and developed an award winning skincare brand
- Managed one of the most complex mergers in the country
- Created a company that become a leader in the multimedia field in Europe
- Trained the technical team for the world’s largest cosmetics company
- Led revenue strategy for a multi-billion dollar corporation, across 35 countries and 18 brands
- Transitioned an international hospital from a building site to fully operational, in just 3 months
- Lost my job for reporting an employer to the authorities, in order to protect those who didn’t have a voice
- Started a consulting company that within 3 years was bringing in $50 million contracts
- Spent 30 years working as a physician in acute hospital and ICU care, in small rural hospitals
- Created business mergers across the globe
- Grew a designer kitchen company from an office in a garden shed to two showrooms on the high street
- Built a multimillion dollar event company
- Brought a private university out of financial struggle, saving more than 500 jobs in the process
And that’s less than half of our current members.
An exponential mission
Every leader should be part of a global commitment to solve the massive problems facing the world today.
That means you. And that means your clients.
There’s a framework you can use to help identify your mission. It’s the Strategic Development Goals that the United Nations has set for 2030.
The 17 SDGs include: No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Clean Water, Reducing Inequality, Climate Action, Peace & Justice.
The two goals that fit best with my personal and company values are Quality Education and Reduced Inequalities:
Goal 4. Quality Education
I have a long held passion for education. A teacher for the first 15 years of my career, I taught science and psychology and I was a leader in schools from inner city London to rural Africa and Southeast Asia. For the past 15 years, I’ve been in the transformational education business, as a coach and a teacher to high-level leaders.
Improved education decreases poverty, improves health and improves a country’s economic development. Improved female education, in particular, improves infant mortality rate, improves the health of children and reduces domestic violence. When women are educated, the entire economy grows and thrives.
In the past few years, my company has helped build 5 schools in Africa—four in Kenya and one in Liberia. Here’s a photo of me at a school in Liberia, when I visited with a group of coaches:
Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities
Reducing inequality improves individual—and national—long-term social and economic development. It reduces poverty and improves people’s sense of fulfilment and self-worth.
Sadly, in the past year, COVID-19 has hit the poorest and most vulnerable communities the hardest. At the same time, hate speech targeting vulnerable groups is rising.
In 2020, as one of the ways we could take meaningful action—that best leveraged our unique skills—my wife and I launched The Kaleo Project, to support a group of 30 Black and African American leaders and coaches to amplify their voices and to take their leadership to the next level.
Mobilizing a hundred million dollars…
My email signature reads: “Our clients make a huge impact. So do we. We’re mobilizing $100 million to educate 1 million children.”
That’s a bold claim.
Let me take you behind it…
I am not a fundraiser. I am mobilizing this action through my clients, who have already mobilized many millions of dollars between them, to make a massive impact.
I have a client who is building a school for children who think differently. I have a client who helps thousands of parents of complex children. I have a client who is helping organizations drive economic prosperity and liberate human potential at scale. And I have a client who runs a multi-million dollar non-profit that supports at-risk children to grow, thrive and become contributing community members.
Here’s the thing about a Massively Transformative Purpose, it can often seem impossible from the direction you are looking. But maybe you’re not (yet) looking from the right direction…
Two years ago, I was at an event when a woman asked me, “What do you do?”
I like interesting stories, so I decided to lead with this response, “I’m mobilizing $100 million to educate 1 million children.” She smiled and said, “That’s lovely, Rich. We did that last year!”
Commit to something bigger than yourself
When you commit to a mission bigger than yourself, there’s a tangible positive impact:
- You accomplish things that once looked impossible
- You increase the reputation of your company with current and potential clients
- You help attract investors
- You attract talented and motivated team members
- You increase earnings
- You make the world a better place
Which of the 17 SDGs fits best with your personal values, or the vision and mission of your business?
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