Purpose Wins Over Profit Every Time. In The End. That Is.

But It Can Take Time and It Can Also Demand Courage

Photo by Amer Mughawish on Unsplash

It was 2010, and Sabina was reeling from failing in her first (and only) contract as an independent recruiter in the restaurant industry.

She had, in fact, walked away from the job because she felt she couldn’t deliver on the contract without compromising on her Purpose: To bring good people together to foster connectivity between workers, companies and communities.

A purpose born from the philosophy that workers want to feel a sense of belonging to their company, companies want to feel a sense of belonging to their community, and the community want to feel a sense of belonging to the place they go out to eat.

Sabina had sourced a pool of excellent candidates, but she had concerns about the company fostering that sense of belonging within its workforce and its community. While Sabina understood the importance of businesses being profitable, she didn’t understand why it needed to be profit over purpose, which she believed the company’s aggressive growth plans demanded. Sabina believed truly profitable businesses in industries that relied on bringing people together as a crucial part of both the economy and the emotional fabric of society. Sabina believed purpose and profit could and should co-exist.

And so, Sabina walked away, which meant zero earnings. She didn’t have any other contracts in the pipeline, and there wouldn’t be any good recommendations for her work coming from the restaurant owner. To say the outlook was looking bleak would be a fair assessment of Sabina’s situation.

But this story isn’t about how Sabina turned her WorkLife around and changed company cultures within her industry for the good of all (which she did). This story is about how a clear purpose became the driving force behind all of the decisions and judgements she made — as a result, making a real difference in the WorkLives of the people she served. In so doing, Sabina helped drive profits through purpose.

Fast forward ten years.

Covid-19 pandemic hits, and restaurants are forced to close their doors. Their very purpose for existence, and the thing they do best — bringing people together, is the very thing they’re not permitted to do.

Then as soon as it became safe enough to bring people back to work, the industry came up with as many safety protocols as they possibly could. The restaurants Sabina worked with asked every single one of their people what they could do that would bring hospitality to people, even if they couldn’t bring people into their restaurants.

They came up with ideas, such as: preparing and delivering ready to heat meal boxes; turning restaurants into grocery meal kit kind of stores and into wine stores, canning craft beers for takeaways, delivering baked goods from restaurants to grocery stores and to homes, figuring out ways to have QR codes so no-one would have to touch a menu.

At each step of the way, as they began to open up, first with outside dining and then the different capacities allowed for inside dining, they figured out how they could make it work.

They did this from a place of believing they had to be the change they wanted to see. They wanted their community to start to look, and feel, and smell, and taste like the neighbourhood that had first attracted them. To do this, they needed to get out there and be part of making that happen.

All of this was possible because Sabina had followed her Purpose: To bring good people together to foster connectivity between workers, companies and communities.

Because Sabina had done this from a place of considering soft skills being as important as the hard or technical skills needed to deliver on the job and do good work.

In connecting people, she looked for the following attributes:

Pride: People who take pride in carrying out their work to the very best of their ability;

Optimism: People who are open to giving new ideas a go, in the belief that it could work;

Integrity: People who have the judgement to do the right thing even when it may not be in their own self-interest, and even when no one else is looking;

Curiosity: People who see every day as an opportunity to learn and contribute something new;

Kindness: People who understand how integral kindness is in creating a good environment for everyone;

Self-Awareness: People who are aware of how their behaviour impacts other people’s feelings.

These core attributes formed the foundation that drove Sabina’s decision making in her WorkLife to follow her purpose to connect good people.

These core attributes, and Sabina’s single purpose, now formed the foundation in rebuilding WorkLives, companies and communities.

These core attributes and purpose helped individuals, companies, and communities survive at a time when it wasn’t possible to make profits.

Over time these core attributes and purpose helped once again to drive profits in an industry that relied on bringing people together.

These core attributes and purpose played a crucial role in rebuilding both the economy and the emotional fabric of society.

Purpose had won over profit — In the end, that is.

It had taken time, and it had demanded courage.

But this time, Sabina wasn’t alone in following and living true to her purpose.

This time it was the collective purpose of the people she served. A collective that believed purpose and profit could and should co-exist.


As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I create learning programmes and resources to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good, challenging and bad times.

I created The School Of WorkLife book series to help people continuously fine-tune their learning, development and growth in the areas most important to them. Click on the series to see all the books available and previews of what’s inside each book.

How To Use Your Purpose To Help Others is book 2 in the series. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of School Of WorkLife Books & Your WorkLife Your Way: Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of www.schoolofworklife.com My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.

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