Purpose. Depending on the context the word can seem easy to refute or extremely difficult to explain, pursue, and accept.
When I was little, the second of five kids in a three bedroom row house on a little street right off of 60th and Market streets in West Philadelphia, there were plenty of run ins, disagreements, and confrontations. And we, my siblings and I, quickly learned the art of apologizing. We never got away with just saying “Sorry”. And there definitely was no “My bad.” Such terms were not sincere enough according to our parents and suggested that our actions were thus purposefully intended. And if our actions were purposefully intended they warranted some form of punishment-usually a good ol’ beating with a belt or maybe the loss of dessert for a few nights. We had to say “I’m sorry for____________.” We had to convey that we didn’t bite, smack, punch, or push the other person on purpose.
Throughout my life I have had conversations or listened to talks and sermons about finding your purpose, recognizing your purpose, having more than one purpose, etc. etc. etc. Purpose as I’ve grown has become way bigger than the intent to harm a sibling. It’s become the intent to live life.
So I was not terribly surprised when I sat in church recently and the pastor talked about purpose and practicality. He was taking something that as I’ve gotten older has been made deep and mystic and was bringing it back to mere practicality and application.
He talked about two shoe brands. Toms and Sole Rebels. Tom’s has a BOGO philanthropic philosophy. For a pair of shoes bought they are committed to donating a pair of shoes to children in need. Sole Rebels, an Ethiopian developed and based shoe company, is committed to employing 100 people at a rate three times higher than the average pay for many working citizens, providing healthcare, and paying for the education of their employee’s children. The way Sole Rebel’s sees it; children will grow out of shoes and need new ones. But, employing parents and paying for education means future generations of more educated and higher earning families. It means not only a nation with protected feet, but a nation rising out of poverty because its people are. It means addressing poverty from its source, lack of employment, health assistance/care, and education.
As I listened to the tale of the two shoemakers I saw both as having a purpose, but one as being more purposefully practical than the other. I saw one creating a sustainable vision to enable people to live practically for years upon years. I saw one in it for the long haul. And not the long haul of their own business, but the long haul of the lives of the people whom they intend to impact.
The sermon made me think of Phreedum, and how, or if I am creating a business where its purpose has met and become well acquainted with practicality. Am I creating a business that uses its resources to impact people’s lives in a manner that challenges or encourages them to do things with their lives that will live long after they have or am I creating a company that uses the creativity of design to create an impact that may last a few months and is then outgrown?
I’m still learning the essence of purpose. I used to think it was something to avoid or deny so you didn’t get beat with a belt or had to miss dessert the very night your mom made her renowned apple or peach pie. And if you ask my siblings, I got the least amount of beatings growing up and I was a rather plump child. I also used to think it was something super deep and that was why at 20 something years old I could still be searching for it. Sunday however I learned that purpose is and can be quite practical. Phreedum can use the creativity of design with the intent to create practical change that will impact the now, like Toms, or practical change that will impact the future, like Sole Rebels.
As I continue to grow my business I am bent on not only making sure that it maximizes its potential, fulfilling its vision and mission, but that I grow a business that is purposefully practical.