How philosophical lessons can help your business grow and succeed.

In people’s heads, they often find companies as crude. We see that both the businesses and their heads are dominated by money, caring about nothing but the journey towards profit, regardless of how it’s done. Whatever gets in the way, whether it be staff, customers, or the environment, all gets pushed to the site.

In real life, though, you’ll find that that’s not actually true. Down below, you’ll find out that not one successful company is able to reach the top if all that they care about is money. The can only do so if they have a set of values, or purposes, that give them the encouragement and push in order to succeed.

The majority of those values are derived from centuries of philosophical debate as well as tradition. We’ve taken the liberty of going through the works of both Nietzsche and Aristotle so that you can just read the blurbs that offer the most popular types of purpose and how companies such as Wal-Mart and IBM have utilized them in order to succeed.

You’ll find out:

  • Why a person like Warren Buffett isn’t actually into it because of the money
  • How come Henry Ford succeeded even though he acted as a dictator
  • Why the main goal of the majority of the top leaders is to make everyone happy

By developing a set of moral ideas to live and work by, you’ll ensure your company’s long-term success.

How come some succeed in business, while others aren’t able to? Although it does partially have to do with both economic intelligence and passion, that’s not all of it. A company’s purpose, which is a set of moral ideas that help guide it, are imperative in order to continuously succeed.

The moral backbone that we depend on when it comes to decision making is Purpose, regardless of whether it’s in your everyday life or when it’s something with a little higher of stakes. With the help of purpose, we are able to determine which choices are correct and good for the long run or which ones are simple or technically right.

Let’s put this to practice. Would you rather serve your customer or make the most returns possible? Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton was always able to answer that questions without ever thinking over it twice.

Walton was a man driven by selflessness and passion who was dedicated to serving his customers. That purpose was passed on down to the entire company. Anyone one starting from senior managers all the way down to the store’s employees was prepared to prioritize their customers. As a result, Wal-Mart gained an edge of their competition, which helps them overcome them over and over again.

In reality, if you don’t have purpose, you’ll only end up making decisions regarding the short term, which is a strategy that just isn’t good enough. Take, for instance, Enron, whose collapse ended up being one of the US’s largest corporate bankruptcies.

Although they had strategies, they did not have much purpose. All that they wanted to do was make money and they were ready to do anything to make that happen. As a result, this caused bad decision making, which ended in dangerous strategies as well as disguised losses.

In an unshocking turn of events, Enron’s actions had ended up catching up with them, which is proof of how dangerous a strategy is without purpose.

Leaders driven by discovery take responsibility for their actions and never stop questioning.

Now you know what purpose is and the importance of it, but how do you get it? Well, there are actually four different types of purpose, every single one of them originating from different ethical traditions that have developed from the work of various philosophers in eras starting from Classical Greece and all the way to the modern era. Let’s begin with the purpose of discovery.

That purpose is linked to the work of Søren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher, along with the existentialists, who had strong arguments in regards the ethic of choice. Kierkegaard declared that it’s not just not enough to stand behind rules and conventions, but them blame them whenever things go wrong. On the contrary, people need to take responsibility for the choices that they make.

Kierkegaard applies the biblical tale of Isaac’s sacrifice in order to depict that principle. As you might know, Abraham had wanted to sacrifice Isaac, his son, after having heard the voice of angel that had told him to do so. Abraham stated the God was the one who told him to do that, but in reality, it was up to Abraham as he was the one who would be held responsible for it.

The same applies in real life; we are the only ones accountable for our actions. What does that have to do with making new discoveries, though? Jean-Paul Sartre, an existentialist, had worked off that idea to propose that since we are responsible for what we do, we need to question everything and figure out what would be the best for ourselves.

By utilizing the purpose of discovery as a guiding force, we alway need to be prepared to ask questions, make something new, as well as investigate which decision is the most applicable to us.

That kind of attitude is exactly what had kept IBM’s Tom Watson on a search for what is “beyond our present conception”. His purpose for discovery guided himself as well as his staff to take things and look at them from various angles, which is exactly what the existentialists suggest.

THINK ended up being IBM’s slogan which continued to accentuate how important it is to stray away from conventions and tradition and better figure out new ways in order to solve the problems of their customers. IBM had even, notoriously, decided to hire college students straight after graduation, in order to make sure that the status quo was always being put to the challenge.

Lead by excellence and nurture the virtues that will lead you to do the best job you can.

As soon as you’ve figured out both new and innovative ways in order to do business, you’ll need to make sure that you carry it out to the utmost of your abilities. This is a great segway into our next purpose- excellence. This ethic is linked to virtue, which was worked on by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle.

Aristotle had come to the conclusion that people nurtured virtues in order to become successful and get the outcome that they were looking for which was fulfillment. Eudaimonia was a word that Aristotle came up with in order to outline the state of fulfillment, success, as well as flourishing. To him it seemed that that was the role of Man.

When doing your job or your duty within a community to the utmost of your abilities, you are able to reach eudaimonia. However, prior to getting there, it was important that you nurtured virtues or positive characteristics. They could be anything from courage to honor to cleverness. Depending on the era that you’re in, those set of virtues could differ. However, what’s important is the amount of time you need to spend in order to get them.

A great example of the purpose of excellence in real life is one of the best investors, Warren Buffett. During his career, he was pushed to reach fulfillment within his community by taking care of the virtues that the top investors required.

His job in life was to mostly assign capital so that he could get maximum return on equity. The optimum performance of Buffett’s position was fulfillment, but he tried to reach excellence for himself rather than for the profit. In comparison to others in his business, his salary is pretty modest.

Buffett devotes every single one of his actions to great investment. For instance, he had sharpened his mental arithmetic skills, which had let him remember 2,000 annual reports as well as all 7,500 shareholders that he had been with. Buffett’s purpose of excellence has gotten him to earn $40 billion.

Altruistic leaders strive to create the greatest possible happiness for the largest number of people.

David Hume, a Scottish historian and philosopher, is well known for developing the ethic of compassion which is linked to the purpose of altruism.

The most basic motivation that’s behind any action is to boost happiness according to Hume. Although that may seem selfish or greedy, our happiness is what helps us make others happy which makes ourselves happy, in turn. Hume claimed that naturally, we have sympathy for other people.

Adam Smith was able to take this idea up a notch via his concept of utilitarianism, stating that with the right action, you are able to make the maximum amount of people happy to the highest capacity. Therefore, our actions are encouraged by the possibility of either pain or pleasure that others may not be susceptible to.

As a result, at the heart of being able to empathize is good decision making, especially in terms of business. At the beginning, we had learned how Wal-Mart gets the success that it does. Their founder, Sam Walton, had acted based on the purpose of altruism, making sure that his decisions made as many of the customers as happy as he could.

Walton had come from a fairly poor area in rural Arkansas. Through his childhood, he was given this strong sense of empathy, which had driven him to help as many people as he could. How did he do so? Well, he boosted the access to low-cost, yet quality material goods that we he could enhance the standards of living.

Whenever his buyers would get a really good deal, he didn’t raise his profit margins, but rather he’d pass that gain to the customer as much as he could. In addition, he made sure that that goal was passed down through the company’s business structure. Management information systems were created that way managers could focus on what the local customers within the states needed.

Every single one of Wal-Mart’s actions revolved around their customers, which made Walton the David Hume of modern American business.

Heroistic leaders use their vision to guide us into unknown territory.

Even though the majority of us see the work of Nietzsche, the German philosopher, to be one of mystery, his ideas have heroism, which is one of the most useful ethics specific to business leaders. That isn’t just the desire to win, but rather the strive to be brave and challenge yourself to do something that no one else has ever done.

Nietzsche claimed that only a handful of people are really free and, therefore, they are the ones who are able to lead. Those people who don’t have those capabilities decide to follow the people who have been gifted with leadership skills. However, those who do carry them will understand that they need to make use of their influence as well as take that leadership position with a strong desire for success.

A great example of a leader with heroism as well as purpose is Henry Ford. His mission was to modify society with the help of his automobile, a goal that had cause him to utilize his business as a way to exercise his will.

Ford didn’t want to follow the standard business practice and neither did he want to make any promises. On the contrary, instead of waiting for the customers to let him know what it is that they wanted, he gave them something that they didn’t yet know that they needed. Ford continued forwards with his products with the strong belief that it would change the world.

However, Ford’s main interest was making use of his power, it didn’t matter if it would change his business’s direction or influence social welfare, which in turn, cause him to make some dangerous decisions. He had been so focused on revolutionizing the auto industry, that he ended up hiring ex-convicts as workers, a bit of the reason lying in their rehabilitation, but also for the fact that they were very beneficial to his production line. Ford had even made the decision to hire thugs from Detroit, but that caused issues with physical violence with his workers.

Heroism is a strong purpose, but it can also get out of hand if it’s not balanced against other ethical principles. The interaction of purpose of the four- discovery, excellence, altruism, and heroism- are able to enhance your business in a few ways. Keep on reading in order to find out how.