The Holy Grail. Many books have been written about the Holy Grail and modern man's search for the legendary chalice. In Dan Brown's page-turner, The DaVinci Code, he hypothesizes that the Holy Grail is not actually the cup used in the Last Supper but the bloodline of Christ. Even Indiana Jones searched for this long-lost artifact.
In business, we have come to use the term “Holy Grail” to mean a silver bullet, a panacea, an easy answer to solve a problem, or something of great value that is difficult to obtain. I recently have come upon a slightly different meaning that has impacted the way I think about business and about my own value. Like many more profound revelations, this one came from a famous philosopher that was popular in the 1970s and 1980s…Monty Python.
OK, don't judge me. I readily admit that my mind frequently drifts to business at less than appropriate times. So, no surprise during a high school production of Monty Python's Spamalot, the stage version of the movie Holy Grail, my mind began to wander. After marveling over the professionalism and visual appeal of the production’s costumes, I began thinking about business.
The search for the chalice, for the Holy Grail, is an old one. And Spamalot does nothing to help in the search for the religious artifact that appears in Leonardo DaVinci's painting, The Last Supper. But, Spamalot reached me with a new, relevant and impactful meaning for the Holy Grail.
The Lady of the Lake
Spamalot is a satire about King Arthur's quest for the Holy Grail. Lady Guinevere appears early as the Lady of the Lake, the one who gives Arthur his power. In this particular high school production a talented young lady belts out an anthem that gets my attention. Find Your Grail sends my wandering mind into overdrive.
The Lady of the Lake hits me hard with lyrics that start off with the following:
If you trust in your soul
Keep your eyes on the goal
Then the prize you won't fail
That's your grail
There is a strong message in this satire. In our lives and in business we tend to look for a Holy Grail and usually that means cutting corners in a difficult situation. I know it's Monty Python; still, there is an important message. Your Grail is not a shortcut. It is your unique value, your song, your purpose. Finding your grail requires honest introspection. It can be challenging and uncomfortable. It can also be wonderful and liberating.
Finding Your Grail
Life is really up to you
You must choose what to pursue
Set your mind on what to find
And there's nothin' you can't do
It's a good message. We choose what to offer our customers. We choose what to make our purpose in business and in life. No one chooses these for us. We do. And what we choose becomes our Grail. It becomes who we are. It drives the value we offer and the purpose we serve.
So choose carefully. Your purpose must be centered on your customers. A purpose that is not about helping your customers may be interesting or enjoyable to deliver, but it won't be your Grail.
Start with your customers. Determine what your ability allows you to provide them. Realize that this is not just about the product you make or the service you provide. It is about the emotions you create as your customers experience you. It includes the way you show up. It includes every way in which you provide value to your customers.
Your Grail must be a holistic view of the way your customers encounter you. From your perspective, this is the way your customers see you. From their perspective this is the value you deliver to them. That is your Grail.
Choose it carefully and once you have it right, commit to it. Set your mind to it. Design your offerings around it. Market it. Deliver it.
So keep right to the end
You'll find your goal my friend
You won't fail
Find your grail!
Monty Python? A wacky musical called Spamalot? This is the inspiration for something as important as purpose? Hey, wherever you can find it. When this high school's leading lady hit me with her clear voice and this message, I found my Grail.