Early this morning, my family and I arrived back from Israel, where we had the opportunity to celebrate my daughter Julia’s Bat Mitzvah. For me and everyone else in my family, it was our first time to the Holy land, and was an experience I will never forget. Aside from the obvious pride and joy from my daughter’s achievement, it was the opportunity to meet Israelis, learn about the complexities of the land/region, and contemplate the past, present and future of a people, a religion and a country that are all close to my heart.
Early on in our trip, we visited the Golan Heights in the northeast part of the country. Standing on what was once a Syrian military bunker on top of a hill filled with barbed wire fences and land mines (some of which were still active), we looked toward the Kibbutzim (Israeli agricultural communities) down below. From this vantage point, it would seem impossible for any army to win a battle against the enemy on the hill. However, somehow, the Israelis did the impossible in the 6-day war and, as a result, the land on which I stood was now part of Israel.
That evening, while discussing this historic event with my tour-mates, we contemplated how, against all odds, the Israelis persevered. Many theories were tossed about but, to me, one stood out from the rest. Put simply, the Israelis – and more specifically, those who were fighting the fight – were driven by a greater (and united) sense of purpose.
Just as businesses with a strong sense of purpose succeed, so do countries. To me, Israel not only embodies the idea of purpose, but also demonstrates how to ensure that it is understood and internalized by all who need to drive it. While there are likely many drivers behind this, three stood out the most to me.
1. Their purpose is bigger than themselves – I am no expert in Israel. However, one thing is clear: Israel is about something much bigger than creating a better place to live, protecting a land or “making the country great (again).” Israel is about protecting and sustaining an entire people across the world. That’s what these fighters were fighting for. And, when a purpose is this big, the fight (and heart) is that much stronger.
2. They understand the consequences – Sadly, Israelis and, more specifically, the Jewish people, have seen the rise and fall of their people – over and over and over and over again. Four thousand years of history teaches us of these struggles and how vulnerable we are. As a result, the importance of the purpose is that much more strong and clear.
3. The purpose is the way of life – The purpose is much more than a statement on a piece of paper – it is an integral part of Israeli life. Upon graduating from high school, every Israeli man and woman is required to serve in the military. During this time, they are not only trained for war, but educated about what they are fighting for. Their parents served before them and their children will serve after them.
Meeting Israelis throughout the county (including several non-Jews), I found that their pride, intelligence and commitment to their country was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Like Americans, they share many different political views and can furiously debate with one another on virtually every related geographic, economic, social and religious topic. However, at the core of it all, they are united in a purpose that is bigger than any of than any of that. Perhaps that’s how such a small, complex, minority country in the Middle East continues to persevere.
Imagine what a business with the same sense of purpose can do.
Without getting into a political debate, I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback on how such a strong sense of purpose can impact businesses (and countries). Please comment here or send me an email.
Here’s to making your purpose prominent in 2017 and, in doing so, making the New Year a great one.