I've spent the past several months having increasingly deeper conversations with entrepreneurs and business owners. It's been an enlightening, joyful honor for me.
Observing these businesspeople is humbling. Most of them have a highly defined sense of purpose.
Here's one way of describing what I am seeing.
Guess What? It's Lutheran.
I heard this first when I taught creativity to MBA candidates at the Capital University Graduate School of Management. (This was years ago, before I came to Ohio State.)
The dean of the business school, Lisa Dolin, informed me that Capital University was founded by Lutherans, based on Lutheran ideals. And, if memory serves, she described a fundamental Lutheran mission like this:
The Lutherans recognize that we are more effective in some roles than we are in others. Some people are best at making shoes. Some people are best at dancing in those shoes.
So it is the purpose of education to help each person find his or her most productive role. Because, if we are all at our most effective, doing the thing that we are most meant to do, doing the thing that we do the best, doing the most important work of our careers, then we will — as a human population — really be moving the world forward.
We will truly be completing the act of creation.
Is that really Lutheran?
So I'm told. But I think even the Lutherans would agree — with delight — that this is a universal ethic. It would be universally beneficial if universally applied. And where it is not applied, it ought to be.
I might have added that last sentence, about finishing the act of creation. (I always try to worm that idea in.) But, it's fair to say that this world — as we have it now — is surely not finished. One only needs to look at the front page of the newspaper to realize that.
So What Is Management?
Management is helping our employees — and customers and families — identify their most important roles. And then helping them to focus on that work. The work of their careers.
This is where Management intersects with The Meaning Of Life.
Another Take On This Idea
My wise cousin Steve Weiler said to me — years ago, just when I needed to hear it — that he tries to focus his life on doing "only those things that only I can do."
I asked him, "Well, what are those things that only you can do?"
His answer — with a humble laugh — is like mine: "Not all that many things!"
There are relatively few things that only I can do. But one thing is certain: I know when I'm doing them. And I know when I'm doing something that someone else could do. And, frankly, in those moments, someone else could surely do it a lot better.
Easy To Focus? (No.)
So, with so few activities that only I can do, it should be easy to stay focused.
Sadly, no. I'm easily distracted. I often find myself doing work that would be better done by someone else.
That's why I made this chart.