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Posted on May 17, 2018

Boldly Pick Your Purpose By Thinking the Unthinkable

Boldly Pick Your Purpose By Thinking the Unthinkable

“Solving consumer needs means something different today than it did 10 years ago.”

That’s the first line in an ADWEEK article titled, Brands Unwilling to Commit to a Set of Values Risk Losing Consumers. The author highlights numerous companies that have defined a clear business purpose, including:

  • Athleta: To empower women and girls.
  • LIFEWTR: Inspire the mind, restore the body.
  • Patagonia: Inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

Today, it seems almost normal for a company to become a certified B-Corp and/or use their business to focus on a cause, such as the environment. It just makes good business sense.

As I wrote in a previous article, 9 Reasons Purpose Trumps Profit, customers have a choice, and when price and quality are viewed as fairly even, they will generally choose from the company that has a clearly stated purpose. A 2015 Nielson Sustainability report suggests that over 70% of millennials and Gen Z are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies dedicated to social and environmental change. A separate study suggests 70% of Gen Z would actively engage with a brand that could help them make a difference.

The challenge for business leaders is choosing the right purpose.

As referenced in the ADWEEK article, the Molson Coors brewing company made a significant blunder with the Coors Light brand when it tried to link to the aspirational concept of “climbing your own personal mountain.” This led to a decline in shipments of 4.1% in 2017.

Selecting the right purpose is not for timid leaders. It requires leaders to prioritize the business values according to what’s most important to the business, industry and target customers.

To make a positive, profitable, and persistent impact, leaders need to be BOLD.

Here I’m reminded of a Values Quote I did a few years ago, highlighting an insightful statement by Tom Robbins that we need to think the unthinkable to achieve the impossible.

In other words, to boldly pick a purpose that makes a difference, leaders need to think the unthinkable.


Today’s quote is from Tom Robbins, an author and writer of short stories with strong social and philosophical undercurrents.

Robbins stated:
“To achieve the impossible, it is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought.”

Robbins has been called “the most dangerous writer in the world.” Why? He’s a man who has lived on the edge, peered over and written from a different vantage point. He embraced the value of boldness.

As a differentiating value, Boldness means standing out strongly and distinctly; willingly taking risks.

If you have a passion to achieve the impossible – a dream – maybe it’s time you embrace the value of boldness.

Consider those who were willing to stand out and think the unthinkable, like President Kennedy suggesting we put a man on the moon, Dr. Martin Luther King dreaming of racial equality, or Nelson Mandela visualizing the end of apartheid. They were all willing to take risks.

Yes, you may have to be willing to sacrifice your life. That too is part of boldness.

It’s also part of achieving the impossible.