Lesson 4.5

The Power Of Purpose

Dive into this topic via the key explanations and exercises below.

Key Concepts:

  • The most powerful thing that can unite a group—especially a group that has cognitive diversity—is a strong shared purpose.

    • In the very beginning of the course, I joked that every time the aliens come to destroy the Earth in science fiction, we humans manage to band together and become an awesome team. Defending planet Earth is a perfect (albeit dramatic) example of a strong shared purpose.

    • We don’t have to wait for it to be life and death

  • Purpose is what your team exists to do. Different kinds of shared purposes can include:

    • Solving a problem.

    • Furthering an idea or cause.

    • Making money/resources.

    • Creating things.

    • Helping people.

    • Having an experience.

  • Not every purpose is equally noble, and not every purpose is equally motivating.

  • Teams don’t have to last forever. Once the purpose is fulfilled, the team can disband, and that is okay!

    • Some teams form with a clear end in mind from the beginning. A Hollywood team will band together to film and promote a movie, and then disband.

    • The human brain can psychologically resist the disbanding of a group—or the letting go of group members—because group unity was crucial for our early survival. But getting rid of this idea that groups have to stick together forever can help us to make group work even better.

    • The key is to prioritize a focus on group purpose over group membership.

Practice This:

  • Think about an organization or team you belong to. Ask yourself the following:

    • What is the group’s real purpose?

    • Which of the above categories of purpose is it?

    • Does the group say it has a different purpose than the real purpose?

    • What might the group do to make its purpose more clear or motivating?