Jennifer Aaker: Power of Purpose | Summary and Q&A

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December 4, 2015
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Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Jennifer Aaker: Power of Purpose

TL;DR

Research shows that having a strong sense of purpose leads to more meaningful lives, better health, and greater work satisfaction.

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Key Insights

  • 💪 Having a strong sense of purpose in life leads to more meaningful lives, improved health, and greater work satisfaction.
  • 🍝 Giving to others and feeling connected to the past and future contribute to a sense of meaning.
  • 🍉 Adopting a meaning mindset and engaging in activities that create meaning can have long-term benefits, including decreased stress and increased well-being.
  • 😘 People who lead more meaningful lives tend to be healthier, with lower risk for cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease.
  • ✋ High meaning individuals have better control over their negative emotions and are better at putting things in perspective.
  • 🥺 Lacking a sense of meaning at work can lead to dissatisfaction and disengagement.
  • 💦 Individuals who find meaning in their work are more likely to stay with their companies, have higher job satisfaction, and be more engaged.

Transcript

[MUSIC] Why do you do what you do? What creates a sense of purpose for you? Is it working? Volunteering? Being with your family? These are not trivial questions. Research shows that having a strong sense of purpose creates more meaning in life, improves health and leads to greater satisfaction from work. Purpose needs intention. Having a stable far... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How does having a strong sense of purpose in life improve well-being?

When individuals feel connected to others and something beyond themselves, and see their lives as part of a larger story, they experience a greater sense of meaning. This, in turn, leads to decreased stress, increased positive emotions, and better social connections.

Q: Can having a sense of purpose improve physical health?

Yes, studies have shown that individuals who lead more meaningful lives, by their own account, tend to be healthier. They have higher levels of good cholesterol, healthier weight, better sleep, lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and are at a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease.

Q: How does adopting a meaning mindset affect well-being?

Adopting a meaning mindset involves engaging in activities that create meaning, such as strengthening social connections, pursuing excellence, or helping others. These activities often require effort but can lead to long-term benefits, including decreased negative moods, increased positive feelings about social connections, and improved overall well-being.

Q: What are the implications of lacking a sense of meaning at work?

Employees who lack a sense of meaning at work are more likely to feel dissatisfied and disengaged. A large-scale study revealed that 50 percent of employees lacked a sense of meaning at work. On the other hand, those who derive meaning from their work are more likely to stay with their companies, report higher job satisfaction, and be more engaged.

Summary

This video discusses the importance of having a sense of purpose and how it can bring more meaning to our lives, improve our health, and lead to greater satisfaction from work. Research shows that purpose needs intention and a stable far-reaching goal. Those who feel their lives are most meaningful are those who give the most to others and have a strong sense of connection to the past and future. Meaning is not something we just have or don't have; it is more about our mindset. When individuals adopt a meaning mindset, they behave differently and experience less negative moods and more positive feelings about their social connections. Finding meaning in life is also associated with better overall health, including higher levels of good cholesterol, healthy weight, better sleep, lower stress hormone levels, and lower risk for cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease. Having a sense of meaning also allows individuals to control their negative emotions better and put things in perspective. In the workplace, lacking a sense of meaning can result in slacking off or job dissatisfaction, while deriving meaning from work leads to higher job satisfaction, greater engagement, and a higher likelihood of staying with the company.

Questions & Answers

Q: What does research show about having a sense of purpose?

Research shows that having a strong sense of purpose creates more meaning in life, improves health, and leads to greater satisfaction from work.

Q: What is needed for a sense of purpose?

Purpose needs intention and a stable far-reaching goal. It is about pursuing our purpose and feeling that our lives are more meaningful.

Q: How are individuals who deem their lives meaningful different from others?

Those who deem their lives most meaningful are those who give the most to others and have a strong sense of connection to the past and future. They feel they are part of a story that started in the past and concludes well into the future.

Q: Can meaning be measured?

Meaning is an abstract concept, but recent research has made progress toward understanding and measuring it. One study asked adults to rate whether their lives were meaningful on a seven-point scale.

Q: What are some activities that help create meaning in life?

Activities that create meaning in life include strengthening social connections, pursuing excellence, and helping others. These activities often require effort, but adopting a meaning mindset and engaging in them can lead to less negative moods and more positive feelings about social connections.

Q: How does meaning impact health?

People who find more meaning in their lives tend to have better overall health. Studies have shown that individuals living more meaningful lives had higher levels of good cholesterol, healthier weight, better sleep, lower stress hormone levels, and a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease. They also tend to live longer.

Q: How does having a sense of meaning affect emotional control?

People with high meaning in life are better able to control their negative emotions. Brain scans have shown that they have less activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear. They also react more slowly to negative images and are better at putting things in perspective.

Q: What are the implications of meaning in the workplace?

People who feel their work lacks meaning are more likely to slack off or feel dissatisfied with their employers. Research has shown that about 50% of employees lack a sense of meaning at work. On the other hand, those who derive meaning from their work are more likely to stay with their companies, have higher job satisfaction, and be more engaged at work.

Q: Why is it important to have meaning in work?

Having meaning in work allows it to become part of a bigger story and feel connected to others. This sense of purpose in work helps individuals become stronger, healthier, and more resilient.

Q: How does working only for money affect effectiveness?

If someone works only for the money, chances are they will be less effective than they can be. Working for a sense of meaning and being connected to others is more likely to lead to better outcomes.

Takeaways

A strong sense of purpose creates more meaning in life, improves health, and leads to greater satisfaction from work. Finding meaning involves giving to others, feeling connected to the past and future, and pursuing a stable far-reaching goal. Adopting a meaning mindset and engaging in activities that strengthen social connections, pursue excellence, and help others can boost well-being in the long run. Having a sense of meaning is associated with better overall health, including lower stress levels, better emotional control, and a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease. In the workplace, lacking meaning can result in dissatisfaction and disengagement, while deriving meaning from work leads to higher job satisfaction, greater engagement, and a higher likelihood of staying with the company. Therefore, it is important to consider why we do what we do and strive for meaning and connection in all aspects of life.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Research has shown that having a strong sense of purpose in life creates more meaning, improves health, and leads to greater work satisfaction.

  • Those who deem their lives most meaningful are those who give the most to others, feel connected to the past and future, and have a sense of purpose.

  • Adopting a meaning mindset and engaging in activities that create meaning can decrease stress, boost well-being, and improve social connections.

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