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  • 00:00:06,292 --> 00:00:09,690 [APPLAUSE]

  • ROBERT QUINN: A couple of weeks ago I was in Barcelona.

  • And we were just finishing a week in training executives

  • in leadership.

  • And I was having dinner with a man who

  • was in charge of the week.

  • He's an interesting character.

  • He's a psychiatrist who is deeply wedded to science.

  • He also has a PhD in theology.

  • He spends about half of his time with professionals

  • trying to make them more effective leaders.

  • He spends the other half of his time in villages and towns

  • helping very ordinary people make

  • better sense of their lives.

  • I was listening to him tell some of his stories,

  • and I said, Alberto, what is your life purpose?

  • Without a moment's hesitation, he

  • said the sanctification of work.

  • I said, what does that mean?

  • He said, making work sacred.

  • What does that mean?

  • And he paused for a second.

  • And he said, when you help people make their work sacred,

  • they come alive in every area of their life.

  • Whoa.

  • That was pretty interesting.

  • 00:01:34,020 --> 00:01:38,899 It's a very striking thing to see a man of such commitment

  • to science and to theology and to service

  • come to a conclusion like that.

  • 00:01:50,450 --> 00:01:56,890 About 2006, I left the university for three years,

  • and I went and ran an organization.

  • At the university, we have a set of [INAUDIBLE] organizations,

  • which is a new field of study where

  • we asked what is an individual like at their best?

  • What is a group like at their best?

  • What is an organization like at their best?

  • Not what they're like normally, but in the way out

  • far side of that normal curve [INAUDIBLE]..

  • And that creates an entirely different way to see the world.

  • I left with the commitment that I

  • was going to build an organization based

  • on the principles of science that we

  • knew from this new field.

  • Those three years were one of the most meaningful periods

  • of my life.

  • When I got back, my friend came to see me.

  • He's a world-class economist.

  • And he began to question me.

  • I thought it would go for two or three minutes.

  • It went on for two hours.

  • He wanted to know everything.

  • Then he went away for a few minutes and he came back.

  • And he said, what you just told me defies economics.

  • It turns economics upside down.

  • We have to write a paper.

  • So I said, OK.

  • I'm open to that.

  • We started working on a paper.

  • The paper's all in Greek.

  • It's all mathematical.

  • It's a simulation of an organization.

  • Now, along the way, he decided to educate me.

  • And he said, I'm going to explain to you why this

  • turns economics upside down.

  • It has to do with the principal-agent problem.

  • He said at the heart of microeconomics

  • is the principal-agent problem.

  • So I turned to him, an employee, and I said,

  • I'm going to give you $100.

  • You work for me for 10 hours.

  • We shake hands.

  • We have a contract.

  • As long as I'm there to watch him, he keeps the contract.

  • The moment I turn my back on him,

  • he underperforms the contract.

  • And that's the very heart of microeconomics--

  • principal-agent problem.

  • Well, we built the simulation.

  • We created a normal organization.

  • And then we introduced something new.

  • The new variable was higher purpose.

  • The moment we introduced higher purpose

  • into the model, the entire organization transformed.

  • The employee, or the agent, became

  • a principal, became an owner, became intrinsically motivated.

  • My friend was really excited.

  • He said, this is incredible.

  • We've got to go interview CEOs of high-purpose companies.

  • Now, to me, it seemed to sort of make sense

  • that that would happen.

  • But when we went out and did the interviews,

  • then I got surprised.

  • As we interviewed these CEOs, the shocking discovery to me

  • was that most of them, the majority of them,

  • when they became CEO, they did not

  • believe in purpose, people, or culture.

  • 00:05:18,730 --> 00:05:22,974 They had come up through economic, managerial training.

  • And they didn't believe in those things.

  • Every one of them got there through some kind

  • of personal crisis.

  • 00:05:32,140 --> 00:05:34,700 They had to rediscover the world,

  • and they had to bring purpose into their mental set.

  • When they did that, and they brought higher purpose

  • to the people in the organization,

  • things changed, just like our simulation.

  • And we learned a great deal from those folks.

  • 00:05:57,090 --> 00:06:00,000 And I wanted to share with you what

  • science says about that notion of having

  • a purpose-driven life.

  • I have a colleague over the public health school who just

  • published a book last year.

  • And in it there's a literature review

  • on the health effects of having a purpose-driven life.

  • The list is interesting.

  • This is what it says.

  • If you have a purpose-driven life,

  • it adds years to your life.

  • You live longer.

  • It reduces the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke.

  • It cuts the risk of Alzheimer's.

  • It helps you relax during the day and sleep better at night.

  • It doubles the chance of staying drug-free or alcohol-free

  • after treatment.

  • Increases your good cholesterol.

  • Gives you better sex.

  • Gives you more friends.

  • Gives you more meaning, engagement, life satisfaction,

  • and happiness.

  • 00:07:08,320 --> 00:07:14,360 Now, when I look at that list of findings,

  • the only thing that I'm left to conclude is you

  • and I are designed to be purpose-seeking mechanisms.

  • 00:07:25,720 --> 00:07:31,160 When we're not, when we live in our comfort zone,

  • we live a life of survival.

  • We know statistically, 70% of the global workforce

  • is disengaged at work.

  • That's an astounding number.

  • 51% of the management workforce is disengaged at work.

  • That's the management workforce.

  • 00:07:58,490 --> 00:08:01,982 What does that say about our organizations?

  • You know, when we talk about living

  • a life of quiet desperation, there

  • are legions of people out there surviving.

  • 00:08:11,450 --> 00:08:14,909 When you clarify your highest purpose,

  • you are basically discovering what your contribution

  • is to this planet.

  • Given your gifts, your skills, your abilities,

  • what is your contribution?

  • What's your life mission?

  • Why are you on the planet?

  • When you answer that question, everything changes.

  • The research says when you give up self-interested goals, where

  • most of us are most of the time, and you

  • take on contributive goals, you function differently.

  • The biology changes.

  • The thought process changes.

  • Learning accelerates.

  • You grow more.

  • 00:08:57,230 --> 00:08:59,870 Whenever we look at high-performing people

  • over long term, we find this notion of higher purpose.

  • I was invited with some colleagues to go to Ohio

  • and study public schoolteachers.

  • Now, in a business school, you could be shot for that.

  • Why would I go study public schoolteachers?

  • Because I had access to the top 1% of the teachers in Ohio.

  • These are the teachers that walk on water.

  • Students go in their class in September,

  • they come out in June way out here.

  • Now, two to three times as much learning in their classroom,

  • objectively measured.

  • Now, you can't work twice as hard as a normal teacher,

  • because they work hard.

  • So what are these people doing?

  • The reason I went to study them is I

  • knew before I ever went down there that they

  • weren't schoolteachers.

  • And I just told you they were schoolteachers.

  • They work in schools.

  • If they're not schoolteachers, what are they?

  • Let me get a response from you.

  • What would you think about if you think about that puzzle.

  • What would you know about these people before you ever went?

  • AUDIENCE: They're purpose-driven.

  • ROBERT QUINN: They're purpose-driven,

  • that's for sure.

  • 00:10:25,280 --> 00:10:29,900 These people are transformational leaders.

  • They would die if you call them that.

  • They would say, I'm a schoolteacher.

  • But they are transforming the culture of their classroom.

  • Their classroom as a positive organization.

  • They don't work for money.

  • They have a calling.

  • Their purpose is not to teach English or math or history.

  • Their purpose is to create the love of learning.

  • If I have this little kid in my classroom,

  • and I create the love of learning in this kid,

  • I've empowered this kid for life.

  • If he's a minority, if he's disadvantaged in some way

  • and his life path's going this way,

  • but I create that love of learning,

  • he gets the capacity to change all that, to take himself

  • beyond what's expected.

  • 00:11:23,720 --> 00:11:26,600 Everything about these people was different.

  • What I love about that story is they're not CEOs.

  • They're not kings, prime ministers.

  • What are they?

  • People working in the public school.

  • If I asked you who left the most positive legacy

  • in your life, name that person, you

  • might say, oh, that's my mother.

  • Or, oh, my third-grade teacher, or my coach, or my first boss.

  • You would name somebody.

  • If we did an in-depth analysis of your relationship

  • with that person, we would find out

  • that that ordinary person in your life who

  • left this positive legacy had a transformational influence

  • on you.

  • It was the most positive influence

  • you've ever experienced.

  • 00:12:17,330 --> 00:12:20,600 All around us, there are people who live like this.

  • We don't see them because we wear conventional glasses.

  • Economics says he's self-interested.

  • Resources are scarce.

  • Conflict is inevitable.

  • Now, all those things are true, most of the time.

  • That's why the social sciences work.

  • What the social sciences don't look at

  • is the end of the curve.

  • They don't look at excellence.

  • They look at central tendency.

  • And whenever we look at people at the end of the curve,

  • we find a different model.

  • And one key element is purpose.

  • Now, how does that happen?

  • Let me share two stories with you.

  • Story number one, we're interviewing

  • one of those schoolteachers.

  • 00:13:13,250 --> 00:13:15,890 She's sharing stuff, and it's a really exciting interview.

  • I'm writing stuff down.

  • And then she tells a story.

  • She says the first year I taught was heaven.

  • The second year I taught was hell.

  • I had five boys that second year,

  • and they were in incorrigible.

  • And there was one kid in particular, he was impossible.

  • One day, this kid's in the doorway of the classroom,

  • and he's kicking and moving his arms and making noises.

  • And I lost it.

  • She said, I'm ashamed to say these words.

  • But I walked towards that kid with the intention

  • of kicking him.

  • Thank heavens he got up and ran away.

  • 00:14:03,570 --> 00:14:04,506 I kept walking.