Lately, I have spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on the theme of “creating a culture with purpose.” In choosing that phrase, I’ve also put in a lot of thought into the preposition to use that captures my intentions. I played with creating a culture “OF” purpose, “ON” purpose and finally settled on the word “WITH” as the best choice.
Creating a culture with purpose emphasizes both the intentionality and the “how” of the action. If we don’t get intentional in the process, this transformative shift will never happen. Only if the process comes from our highest purpose will it have a hope to succeed. But to outline the actionable steps to achieve this goal requires dialogue with a diverse group of people, and talking about the need to evolve our cultural alignments is a touchy subject. People get their defenses up very quickly when you start criticizing a culture. A great quote from Dean Radin, Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Science (IONS), in his recent book Real Magic, sums up this challenge before us: “Besides death and taxes, the one other universal truth is that bureaucracies never respond kindly to challenges to their authority.”
We have to be well aware of this universal truth when any conversation on culture begins. It seems that these days, we are compartmentalizing ourselves more and more into specific cultures and groups rather than coming together in the name of humanity. We put up cultural fences and they separate us. We need to reverse this trend if we’re to find success in creating a sustainable culture that is good for the many, rather than the few.
Culture arises organically. Yes, in the past it’s been led, to some degree, by visionaries and great thinkers, but the base beliefs only move as fast as the masses accept them. In fact, the further back in history we go the more we can see that these cultural walls our species built in the form of rituals and social standards were out of a need for human survival both physically and psycho-spiritually. While survival was our main concern in the distant past, the sustainability of our current civilization depends on us being able to culturally evolve into a new phase of inclusion, rather than reverting to a fear-based drive for tribal preservation. Unfortunately, instead of our global community moving toward a more conscious cultural shift that values an understanding of the new paradigm, segments of society are reasserting primitive, cultural stances like fundamentalism and authoritarian populism.
What I am striving for in 2020 and beyond is fostering conversation and action to incorporate a higher consciousness into common culture on a global scale. It’s time to shift our thinking from the nationalistic labels we commonly know, to ones that represent a new level of understanding of how we are all interconnected. As the Ubuntu philosophy reminds us: “I am what I am because of who we all are.”
Fortunately, the voices calling for a new shift in cultural consciousness are many. This need to open our minds to collectively explore and uphold a new set of values that honor the global family is gaining momentum. I see these intentions sprouting all around me in creative and artful approaches in the name of the cause. It’s the beginning phase of a whole cultural petri dish of new paradigm thought ready to burst into bloom.
Taking action is the key component in this movement, but let’s not expect people to envision a whole new culture and then be able to immediately live it. It’s not that easy, and a new culture will not take hold until we build a base, a critical mass, that can sustain it. To begin this process, I recommend taking action on something that is a good cause for the whole– that would benefit a cultural shift and is of appropriate proportion and fitting within the current community context. These actions will start to cultivate a shift just by doing the work. However, these efforts must be with a clear vision and intention. We have to reflect on our calling and commit to doing something with compassion in efforts to diminish separation and cultural compartmentalization. It’s time to start talking to those on the other side of our cultural fences and walls if we’re going to build any bridges.
Individuals stepping up to do the important work is just the beginning. It will take visionary leaders in all sectors to inspire collective change, particularly in the business world. The debate is if there should be any other purpose other than the bottom line of profit. The conclusion is “yes,” there should, but perhaps it is also time to re-evaluate and redefine what “profit” means in today’s culture.
There are so many facets to creating and sustaining a culture with purpose. In the months ahead I look forward to continuing this conversation in exploring actionable steps we can all take to achieve this intention. The time is now if we’re to succeed, and I’m excited for the opportunities for learning and sharing in these ongoing efforts as the year unfolds.
Stay tuned for updates on an online course and the events planned in collaboration between the Global Purpose Movement and Unity Earth. With your help and co-creation, the creation of a culture with purpose will take firm roots in the course of 2020.