Aspire | Action | Acquire
Aspire | Action | Acquire

Sense of Purpose

In a speech to new graduates the late co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs warned against letting “the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice” inciting them to “have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Contrarily, the author psychologist Matthew Lieberman warns against this message, writing “Our sense of “heart and intuition” is actually what ensures that most of us will conform to group norms, promoting social harmony.”[1] For those with an inner billionaire mindset, Lieberman is likely to be ignored.

Entrepreneurs, into which the super-wealthy are the most successful subset, are inherently social disrupters. The notion that disruption is at the inner core of entrepreneurship is summarized by Phil Knight, the billionaire founder of Nike. In the book, Shoe Dog, he wrote “I’d like to tell men and women in their mid-twenties not to settle for a job or a profession or even a career. Seek a calling” and “I’d like to warn the best of them, the iconoclasts, the innovators, the rebels, that they will always have a bulls-eye on their backs.”[2]

It was theorized in the Social Wealth chapter that only those people who provide a socially sustainable benefit are likely to succeed. In the book Grit, psychologist professor Angela Duckworth, former McKinsey consultant. refers to the supporting research of Stanford developmental psychologist Bill Damon. Damon explained “the importance to the inner psyche” of demonstrating “that it is possible to accomplish something on behalf of others.”[3] Purpose, assert both psychologists, is cemented by the belief that their actions will not be in vain. It is this sense of purpose that gives rise to a sense of ruthlessness and perceived ambivalence towards others. This is acknowledged by billionaire Ray Dalio.

Billionaire Ray Dalio, author of Principles, has identified several character traits of people who have shaped their industries. Their “audacious goals” commonly involve making a “beneficial impact on the world.” They also share a common unwillingness to let anything or anyone stand in the way of achieving their audacious goals[4]. From an applied academic perspective, Duckworth makes a similar observation which she describes as “a kind of ferocious determination.” “These exemplars”, she notes, “knew in a very, very deep way knew what it was they wanted;”[5] that is well described by an interaction involving Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, his father, Bill Gates Sr., and Warren Buffet.

Told in the biography of Warren Buffett by Alice Schroeder, Bill Gates Sr. posed a question at a dinner party to his son and Warren Buffett on a Fourth of July long weekend at which the two first met. “What factor was the most important in getting to where they’d gotten in life?” Gates Sr. asked. Both billionaires simultaneously replied with the word “focus.” In Schroder’s own words, “focus” means “intensity that is the price of excellence.” It means “discipline and passionate perfection.”[6] Angela Duckworth made similar observations describing the traits as a “combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special.” “They not only had determination, they had direction” she wrote.[7]


[1] M. D. Lieberman, Social (New York: Random House US, 2013), 202.

[2] P. H. Knight, Shoe Dog: A Memoir of the Creator of Nike (London: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2016), 381-2.

[3] A. Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (London: Penguin Random House, 2017), 162.

[4] R. Dalio, Principles: Life and Work (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2017), 95-96.

[5] A. Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (London: Penguin Random House, 2017), 8.

[6] A. Schroeder, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life (London: Bloomsbury, 2009), 523.

[7] A. Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (London: Penguin Random House, 2017), 8.