Why purpose is vital

Key Takeaway: It’s not about what we do but why we do something. The key question to ask always is “WHY”: It’s always about the purpose for doing things. But this purpose has to be rooted in truly life-giving soil: the soil of consciousness and service.


Photo copyright 2013 Allister Roy S. Chua
Photo copyright 2013 Allister Roy S. Chua

It’s really all in the purpose.

I’ve been harking on for some time now about the need to live lives of higher purpose, rooted in consciousness and service. I’ve also said that purpose not anchored in consciousness and service is not true higher purpose, but rather misguided as it may not be rooted in God’s eternal principles (i.e. it may be ultimately self-serving).

However, it also works the other way around: consciousness and service without a clear purpose or without a true higher purpose is actually meaningless.

Consider big corporations with traditional Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. According to Dr. Wayne Visser’s 2011 study on them, traditional CSR has failed to achieve its social objectives because of its nature and its structure – it is a dispensable part of the traditional corporate business model, and in some instances is merely used as a façade to “prove” a company’s “goodness” (i.e. greenwashing). Though it may have outstanding short-term results, these are merely band-aid solutions (and in some cases quite ineffective ones at that) to very pressing social problems, and never truly help their constituents rise from said problems.

A lot of people indeed believe that traditional CSR is good – or to be more precise, enough – to contribute to society in a manner that befits their lifestyle. While the purpose of helping is there, if it is not properly rooted, then what’s the use? Intentions are not enough; the maxim “it’s the thought that counts” does not apply here. Anyone can say that their purpose is so-and-so, but without proper, guided action, then it all comes to nothing.

But likewise, so is the other way around. The concept of greenwashing itself is proof that our poor friend higher purpose is oft taken for granted. The immediate social impact is seen quite clearly, and thus garners positive attention. That some degree of consciousness and service is present already is enough for some that it is already a very noble endeavor worth supporting. The hard truth, however, is that while the purpose of solving a social problem for good is not there, then even the best activities will ultimately fail to achieve the solution to the social problem.

There was a time I was feeling rather lost a couple of years back, and I shared it with my mentor – who is perhaps my most purpose-living peer. The chief learning of today’s entry is actually from her: it is all about the purpose. It’s not about what we do but why we do something. The key question to ask always is “WHY”.

For instance, working in a job with neutral (or even negative, but heaven forbid) social impact, but with a clear-cut purpose to, say, do your own social endeavors on the side (or after you’ve quit after a few years), is actually better than working in a social development-heavy job but without a purpose. Of course, the ideal set-up would be to have both a socially-oriented job with a clear purpose that is rooted in consciousness and service – but that may be unrealistic for some or others might find it too ideal.

But then, what is the purpose of living if not to strive for the ideal – to strive for God?

No way, therefore, can higher purpose be alienated from consciousness and service. There are several ways to put it, such as that consciousness and service are in fact two sides of the same coin – the root of purpose: Service (especially one that is faith-driven) being the spirit that drives purpose, while consciousness (or awareness) is the action that drives purpose. Or you can say that purpose is holistic action rooted in the mindset of being aware and the spirit of service stemming out from love and gratitude.

In any case, all three are inseparable, and these three are what I believe form the key to authentic, sustainable development. They are the three equal pillars of our philosophy, and a philosophy I believe is direly needed by many today, from the humble everyman to the national leader.

TDA.CCM.20150918-PCS Triangle.v1.0

Wishing you a purposeful weekend ahead!


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