Von Clausewitz, the great Prussian military strategist, introduced us to the concept of “moral force.” He believed that armies that wanted to win with great conviction enjoyed a tangible advantage over less-motivated adversaries.
This “moral force” is the fuel that drives the success of the “ethonomic” companies we have covered here. They are pursuing a bigger goal, one that appeals to a larger class of stakeholders: to the community, the country, the world. Everyone, as a result, is cheering for them, including their customers, suppliers, and investors. When you have everyone on your side, it becomes easier to win.
In last Sunday’s Super Bowl game, the New Orleans Saints were playing for more than their team. They were playing for the city of New Orleans, which just four and a half years ago faced near devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The city the U.S. government failed to lift up out of the floods has been lifting itself up. And their journey was exemplified by the Saints, a football team that since its founding in 1967 has never made it into the Super Bowl.
As the game day approached we heard Saints players using words like “destiny” and “true calling.” They were there to do more than win a football game. They were there to show their city, state, and “maybe even a country,” as the Staints' quarterback Drew Brees said, that “New Orleans is back.”
As I bump into friends on the streets of New York, our conversations naturally land on the Super Bowl. When they ask who I cheered for, I tell them the Saints, and then I tell them my reason: my wife, raised in New Orleans, whose family survived Katrina, has desired this for her whole life. And then I get a pause, followed by “That's great, man. No one deserves it more than them.”
Fill your sails with the power of “moral force.” Find a purpose that will turn everyone into a fan.
1. What is your company’s purpose?
2. How can you exist for something bigger, something that everybody wants to succeed?