Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”  Some of the most widespread and repeated stories are stories of adventure – like the classic adventures in books like Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island, and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea and movies like Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Lord of the Rings.  I’m frequently struck by the number of people on a planes, trains, or at vacation hotels who take time to immerse themselves in adventure stories, which seem to draw people into their of intrigues, struggles, and conquests.   Their law of attraction is ageless.

Whether in print or on the big screen, the common elements are a call to adventure, a hazardous journey, and eventual triumph.

A meaningful journey has elements of extraordinary challenge, risks, excitement, suspense, unexpected events, unknown outcomes, a dare to go, and a purpose that makes it all worthwhile.  In the same way, a strategy can and should be an adventure – a meaningful journey that captures a sense of purpose, of doing something together that gets us through the hazardous journey, that builds energy from formidable challenge and unites people in the pursuit of outstanding achievement.

In Drive, Daniel Pink notes that the language of “gross margin,” “EBITDA,” and “the profit motive,” potent and necessary as it is, can be insufficient for organizations and individuals.  Pink suggests that “an equally powerful source of energy, one that we often dismiss as unrealistic, is what we might call the purpose motive.”  What Pink calls “motivation 2.0” is the recognition that the secret to high performance isn’t our drive for reward and punishment, but a deep-seated desire to direct our own lives, expand our capabilities, and to live a life of purpose…a meaningful journey…to embark on a  purposeful adventure.

The call to action is unmistakable.  There is more drama and adventure in most companies than on the highest rated reality shows, but it’s paved over by sterilized PowerPoints of outcome metrics that are yawners for most people, and are silent to the formidable challenge of achieving something that matters.

People want to go on a meaningful adventure and journey.  If you were to convert your strategy into a story of adventure, how would you best share it with your people?  How would you best update the story along the way?  What would make it compelling to individuals outside your organization?  What would make you want to read it on your next vacation, plane trip, or train ride?

Related Content:

Roots of Engagement Issue One – Being Part of Something Bigger Than Yourself
Roots of Engagement Issue Two – People Want to Feel a Sense of Belonging
Roots of Engagement Issue Four – People want to Know their Contributions Make an Impact


August 9, 2011

More deeply rooted thinking

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