Answering the question of how one can leave the world a better place than when one came into it is key to finding purpose in life, according to Ajay Piramal.
Known for his responsible entrepreneurship, how Piramal steered the Piramal Group to a $10 billion global business conglomerate with interests in pharmaceuticals, financial services, real estate, information services and glass packaging, operating out of 30 countries and outreach to over 100 countries, is this grounded sense of conscientiousness.
Scheduled to be a speaker at the recently held Thrive Global India Leadership Summit, Piramal had to urgently travel on business but that didn’t stop the Piramal Group chairman from delivering on the commitment he had made. He chose to address the audience through a pre-recorded video message deliberating on the subject of purpose. Here are the key edited excerpts:
Of all the living organisms in the world, the human being is the one that has the ability to have intellect and to be able to discriminate among what is right and what is wrong, every other living being needs to (just) eat, find food to eat, to procreate, and rest, there’s nothing more to do! It is only the human beings that can make a difference. And we believe that you get human birth after several other births as smaller creatures, so there is an obligation for every human being to take advantage of this ability to discriminate and make a difference in the world, so that’s the purpose: How you leave the world a better place once you have lived in it than when you came into it.
In the family environment I was brought up in, my parents led a purposeful life and it is their example that has seeped into me. Over time you learn more and more, you understand more, read the Gita. Focus on what your action is today because result is only your action in another form. You can only change result by doing the right action. These things have guided me, this wisdom has been there for thousands of years and are as relevant today as they were when they were spoken at the battlefield of Mahabharata.
We have a publicly purpose stated: Doing well and doing good and making a positive difference in the world around us by serving humanity. It means that you have to do well in whatever you are doing and you have to do good to the world in what you are doing. It also means that if you are doing a CSR activity, which is doing good, you have to also do it well, which means it is a combination of performing well and being able to contribute to society.
You have to be authentic, it is not just words, one has to practise it, we have to see this purpose in action. Everyone can relate to this. Everybody wants to feel good at the end of the day. Yes, you come to work because you want to earn a living but people want to feel that they have contributed in making the world a better place. In that way, it motivates them and helps develop an emotional connect with the organisation which is also very important.
With purpose there are also values that are important, and will lead you to your purpose. Values such as knowledge, action, care, and impact. For instance, care talks about the whole concept of trusteeship and humility. Trusteeship means you are all trustees and we look at the beneficial interests of all our stakeholders, whether it is consumers, employees, the society or shareholders.
Recently I was very happy to see a group of 200 top CEOs who met in the US talk about trusteeship. Capitalism is getting a bad name because they are only looking at shareholder interest and you have to look beyond that, and we have been saying this for a long time and it is not our original concept, this is what the Bhagavad Gita talks about, this is what Gandhiji spoke about.
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