“Why Do We Exist?”: Discovering Our Core Purpose

“Why Do We Exist?”: Discovering Our Core Purpose

I am a firm believer that we have a divine purpose, and we are not just here by accident. I never thought I would become Funeral Director, even though it has been a part of our family for generations. Actually most people assume this would be a likely path I would go down. Funny thing, I never saw it coming even though I enjoyed hospitality work from my earlier years with my first jobs being in restaurants  & hotels.

In 1989 I joined our family’s profession, I started at an entry-level position; washing cars, transferring those who have died into our care, driving the limousine, cleaning the funeral home, etc.  I did this for two years and I really enjoyed it but I had a different dream in me and I decided to pursue it.

I enlisted in the US Navy to become a Navy SEAL. This was one of the best experiences of my life AND one of the biggest disappointments all in the same breath. Needless to say I never became a Navy SEAL, I got close but couldn’t finish due to an injury. It took me years to let go of all my heartache of failing this goal. I recently saw the new movie, “Lone Survivor” – it is such a powerful film and it made me think over what my life would’ve been like had I become a SEAL. Standing where I am today, I feel like I can see clearly why I didn’t make it, I was meant for a different purpose: the purpose of helping families in their darkest hours.

Our company is about to embark on a journey to determine what our Core Purpose is as an organization. It’s going to be an interesting journey and I invite you to stay tuned.


Let me tell you a little bit about what a Core Purpose actually is:

A Core Purpose is our fundamental reason for being. A guideline that will influence every decision our company makes. It’s a pillar that supports our vision, creates clarity and keeps us focused on our mission.

If I was you I might be thinking “Wow, your company started in 1898 and you are just now defining your core purpose?”  Well, while our business is wrapped in a wonderful history, the people I work with are a very real part of our present and our future. Together, we’ve found reason to change the future of our profession and that means discovering together what our core purpose as an organization is. Our contemporary purpose is evolving and the way we see it, the purpose of yesterday’s funeral homes just aren’t meeting the needs of today’s families.

Beyond just my company having a core value, I believe I individually have a core purpose within my role as President & CEO. My purpose is to help create a healthy work environment where our organizational health is the top priority.

I cannot help but think about our work lives, we end up spending more time with our work families than we do with our own families. Day in and day out we can either, enjoy and support our coworkers or we can put up walls of fear. Have you ever worked at a place you hated? Have you ever felt better when you called in sick? If you’ve ever felt that way, I would guess it was because that work environment was been ruled by bad attitudes and bad behaviors. Who is to blame? Do we have to participate in a toxic work environment? No, we can shape our lives into what ever we want them to be.

Our management team has been going through the book, The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni, here’s one of the keys resonating with me right now:

“Within the context of making an organization healthy, alignment is about creating so much clarity that there is as little room as possible for confusion, disorder, and infighting to set in.”

With clarity comes accountability and, in a healthy work environ, accountability leads to vulnerability-based trust. This is what happens when members get to a point where they are completely comfortable being transparent and honest with one another. Where they can say and genuinely mean things like “Hey, I screwed up,” “Neil, I need help,” “Molly, your idea is WAY better than mine,” “Joe, I wish I could learn to do that as well as you do,” and even, “I’m sorry.”

At the heart of vulnerability lies the willingness of people to abandon their pride and their fear, to sacrifice their egos for the benefit of relationship and the collective good of their work family.

“How do we contribute to a better world?” (The Advantage)

The answer: Our Core Purpose.

So we’re going to find out what that purpose is and yes, we’ll share it with you once we’ve met together as a company and discovered together what our new purpose is. I’m so excited about this and I hope you are too!

 || what do YOU think?

So, my question to you is, for what core purpose do you exist?


If you’re a business owner or employee, what is the purpose of your organization?

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Molly grew up in and around funeral homes her entire life. In 2009 she began working for O'Connor Mortuary and found a bridge between her passion for writing and her interest in grief and bereavement. In 2016 she earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. She is honored to be able to write about these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective.


  1. Joe Lavoie says:

    Great Blog , my purpose is to be a guiding light to my family , friends and teammates and to stay focused on keeping my eye on the prize. By that I mean to set daily , weekly and monthly goals to help not only myself but to help others succeed . I do appreciate you for being a guiding light also to help me succeed as a husband, father and friend. Thank You for all you do.
    Joe Lavoie

    • neil says:

      Joe – You know it is my pleasure to be with you on a daily basis! I really appreciate the commitment and passion you bring day in and day out to our firm and families. You have been a warrior in helping families heal!!! I am forever grateful to you for all the wonderful acts of kindness you have given.

  2. Ruby, I think this is your best blog yet. I love the fact that you are so transparent as a CEO & business owner. To admit that you don’t have all the answers and to be such a flexible and idea-driven leader is so admirable! Thank you for leading so well, for being such a fun person to work with, and for being someone that I really can come to saying I need help. Phenomenal.

    I’m so excited to see where we go as a company, thank you for caring enough about us to challenge us.

    – Molly

    • Neil says:

      HI Molly –

      Thank you for your kind words. This is an amazing time in our lives. I love the fact that you are with us full time. Your giftedness is so incredible, who would have thought either of us would enter into the great profession. I love working with you on a daily basis. It is so fun to see you take charge and shape our company. You are a force within our company that is making a huge impact on now and in the future. Thank you for all your support and friendship!!!

  3. Tom says:

    I’ve found the quote, “Wherever you go, There you are,” to be a guiding core value for me, because it is based on attitude. That is, an attitude to trust my team completely to continue forward with the same beliefs.

    • neil says:

      Hi Tom –
      You are right, where ever you go, there you are. We really cannot hide from your selves or others. I am thankful that you can completely trust your team. I like to say 1# is attitude #2 is action, we need both a stellar attitude and proactive actions to help us go anywhere. I am thankful that you live your life with both.

  4. Carrie Bayer says:

    Wow, Neil. Just…. wow. This is the best blog ever! I’m so glad to be a part of your team & I’m grateful for your example & leadership. When I became a mortician, my goal was to change the world one family at a time. With your help, I’m doing just that. Thank you for building the foundation I stand upon & for always striving to be the best. Love, Carrie

    • neil says:

      HI Carrie –

      Thank you for your support and kind words. I am proud to see you grow over the years. You have overcome many challenges that could have stopped your personal grow. I do believe the latest and greatest growth gain was you recognizing thew love Steve has for you. You could have easily stuck to your past and stayed in fear mode. Your choice to accept Steve’s proposal in marriage is profound. I hope this can be the turning point for you to continue to be bold and let any of your past go and live for the NOW! Life is way to short to not love, laugh and live in harmony with joy. You have so many gifts, you are kind, thoughtful, compassionate, you care for the needy, the homeless, you have been a great leader of many worthy causes. Your love without conditions is a powerful testament of your core being. I am grateful to be in your company on a daily basis. I appreciate YOU for the perfect person you are! XOXO

  5. Fitz says:

    Great blog! It’s been an amazing ride and an exhilarating transition of our industry and our company. You’ve been instrumental in our push forward to remain relevant and differentiate ourselves. I look forward to our upcoming meeting as our team collectively will determine our core company purpose. We are one to serve and inspire!

    • neil says:

      Fitz –
      When does this ride stop? I guess when we fully commit and become our own customer. This has been a great journey for all of us. I am grateful to have such a great friend, brother in law & partner in my life as you are. This up coming meeting will be key for generations to come. Thank you for your leadership and friendship!

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