Joy is Purpose’s Kissing Cousin.
“Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm.” - Helen Keller
When I named my boutique hotel company Joie de Vivre, I wanted people to know that our company name and mission were the same: helping our employees and customers celebrate the joy of life. Fortunately, one collateral benefit to me was the daily reminder that I got into this business for the joy of it. This is part of the reason I chose to sell the company after 24 years as CEO. I didn’t feel joy anymore.
I had the privilege of leading two private entrepreneur workshop cohorts in January, and one of my key takeaways is captured in Helen Keller’s quote above. Joy is the fuel of Purpose. Without Joy, Purpose is purely a grind, and we can only do that for so long.
If you have your own business—whether you’re a sole practitioner consultant or the founder of a big tech company—ask yourself, “Why did I get into this business in the first place, and is that primarily what brings me joy today? If not, what brings me joy in the business now?”
If this inquiry doesn’t help you locate your joy, you may have to do what I did. Once I realized it was creativity and freedom that gave me joy in my start-up years, and those two qualities were nowhere to be found anymore, I needed to prepare for my exit. Ironically, “my success” is translated in Spanish as “mi éxito.” My success was my exit. Only in this case, my success was not the reason for my exit. It was my quest for joy.