No, “Man’s Search for Meaning” isn’t the title of a current New York Times bestseller; it’s something that was originally published in 1946 in German. I’m guessing some of you have read it, maybe for a college psych class. I finally read the timeless book, which was written by Viktor Frankl, and I admit it was a hard read — but it was well worth the time and effort, for many reasons. Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist born in 1905, was a Auschwitz concentration camp survivor.
In the beginning of the book, Frankl states that he didn’t intend for this to be another history book about the concentration camps, although he does provide some chilling personal stories. Instead, he wanted to share his professional conclusion that man’s primary motivation in life is to find “meaning.” He quotes Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher, as concluding “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” He also quotes a Johns Hopkins University survey, where students were asked what they considered “very important” to them. Seventy-eight percent responded, “Finding a purpose and meaning to life.” (Although it may sound like I’m quoting Daniel Pink, Marcus Buckingham, Jim Collins, or Patrick Lencione, I really am talking about a holocaust survivor.)
Owners and senior executives, I’m asking you to think about what Frankl is saying. Then, realize he had no idea that, more than 50 years later, millennials would come along. I’ve commented on the topics of purpose, your why, and your mission several times, including in my January 11, 2016, blog. You probably started your business with a passion for something. What is it? Do your team members know, and are they as excited as you? You may say what you do is pretty plain vanilla, but I don’t accept that. In my October 14, 2013, blog, I commented on how Frank Moran created an accounting firm using the metaphor of the Mayo Clinic for businesses and to this day, it still inspires hundreds of professionals.
When I tour manufacturing facilities I always ask a few operators where the part they’re making goes. To my shock, most don’t know. To them, it’s just a metal or plastic fastener.
Owners, please figure out a way to inspire your team members. They could easily work somewhere else and probably make similar money. You have an opportunity to appeal to their need for meaning in life. Don’t miss it. It won’t cost much, but it could make your company an even better place to work.
p.s. Actually, I’ll make you an offer. Contact me and, at no charge, I’ll help you communicate your “meaning” to your team.