MAP is focused on unearthing, capturing and communicating the core cause or purpose of an organization. Recently, I reflected on a topic I spoke on a few years ago at the International Ecotourism Conference—the idea of not only organizations and people having a purpose, but how a place can have a purpose. This reflection on the purpose of place was prompted by a recent visit to Sedona, Arizona. Sedona is a place steeped in an amazing and often out-of-this world geological and anthropological history and meaning. The combination of light and land is breathtaking. The landscape, whether it is punctuated by the Devil’s Sinkhole or Cathedral Rock, continually creates reverence and respect for the natural wonders of our planet. This reverence, so powerful and compelling, illuminates our search for the answer to the question – why are we here on earth? A place like Sedona can stir a soul, ignite a spirit, shift a state of mind and alter how and where we take our next step. It is a place that fuses body and mind to form, however temporary, a wiser and more heartfelt appreciation for the air we breathe, the dirt we walk on and the water that quenches our thirst. Sedona, like other places on earth, serves the purpose of transforming points of view and revealing an ancient way of seeing that can seem new and revelatory.
So, what happens when we leave a place like Sedona to return to our more ‘normal’ life and state of affairs? I believe that if we allow the purpose of such a place to stay with us, we won’t return to the status quo. Something will have changed. This change may be seen or felt in our interactions with our colleagues at work, or in intimate moments with our partners in life, or in our relationship with the stream, meadow, forest, mountain or skyscraper that landmark where we live. Whatever forms this change takes, it will no doubt be meaningful change. We will think and feel differently. Our connection to others and our planet will be altered. This sense of change can even bolster our drive to make a difference.
But can this kind of ‘location inspiration’ happen without ever going to places like Sedona?
Do we always need to depart in order to impart meaning? What if where we live, work and play had its own sense of purpose that resulted in us being more compassionate members of our community, more engaged citizens and more committed contributors to our culture? Is this too much to expect of a place? Based on my work with MAP and my recent visit to Sedona, I believe more than ever in organizations operating with a noble purpose at their core. To ensure our lives have meaning, our place of work must produce meaning first and foremost. Will our work desk, our station on the production floor or our seat at the conference table have a stunning and inspiring view of Cathedral Rock or the steep, colorful hills of Italy’s Cinque Terra or the lush jungles of Belize? Probably not. But what if the place where we have decided to spend our most productive waking moments is one that awakens our imaginations and our actions for the better? Can our cubicles, conference rooms, corner offices, corporate campuses or constellation of global business offices be connected to a greater purpose? Can the place where we go to ‘make a living’ provide daily ‘Sedona impact’? After seeing a sun-splashed desert skyline move all kinds of visiting hearts and minds, I believe enlightened organizations can move us emotionally and intellectually when they realize their day-in, day-out responsibility to be a place of purpose.
With a population of a little over 10,000, only .0000013 of the world’s population lives in Sedona. That leaves 7,143,990,000 of us on the planet, many of whom, today and tonight, from Katmandu to Kalamazoo, will hopefully go not just to a place of work, but to a place of purpose.