We've all asked ourselves the same questions: "How can I make a difference?", "What am I passionate about?", and "What is my purpose?" There are entire sections of bookstores devoted to answering these questions. Well, if it's possible to enrage an entire genre, then here it goes: The key to finding your purpose is not another self-help book. In fact, it's the exact opposite.
So let's walk through the typical scenario. In a desperate attempt to reignite our careers, we Google a variation of the same question, "How to build a meaningful career?" In response, we're prodded to answer a few preliminary questions like, "What do you what to achieve?", "What kind of lifestyle do you want to live?", and "What do you want your legacy to be?" Don't get me wrong, these questions are important and have led many to success. However, if you're like me, we still find ourselves feeling like something's missing.
The issue with questions like these is that they all start at the wrong place -- ourselves.(Anyone else just picture JFK saying, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."?)
Humans are inherently social creatures. We've survived and thrived thousands of years because we've consistently done one thing -- taken care of one another. If you want to find both a rewarding and purposeful career, then you'll have to go back to the basics. You'll have to find ways to help others. Why? Because helping others leads to happiness, and happiness leads to enhanced success.
Let's take a look at a few successful companies that got their start by putting people first. (P.S. If you want to stay abreast of the top purpose-driven/socially focused companies, you have to check out the GameChangers 500 List (GC500).)
For those of us who wear glasses, we've all dealt with the same problem -- you lose or break your glasses, and because they're so expensive, you squint your way through life until you can afford a new pair. Which, due to the high cost of glasses, might be a while. This is the exact reason Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, David Gilboa, and Jeffrey Raider created a business that not only made glasses more affordable but also became a platform to donate glasses to those who are less fortunate. It all started with the belief that everyone deserves the right to see. In 2015, Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, David Gilboa, and Jeffrey Raider created a business that not only made glasses more affordable but also became a platform to donate glasses to those who are less fortunate. It all started with the belief that everyone deserves the right to see. In 2015, Warby Parker received a unicorn evaluation of over $1 billion.
In an Entrepreneur article, Blake Mycoskie revealed that he was already on his fourth startup when he found the inspiration for Tomorrow's Shoes -- better known as TOMS. He goes on to say that the idea struck him while on vacation in Argentina after he met an American woman who was volunteering at a shoe drive for underprivileged kids. Upon further discovery, Mycoskie found that the absence of shoes not only complicated the children's everyday lives but also exposed them to a wide range of diseases. Inspired and influenced by the local culture, specifically the national shoe of Argentina: the alpargata, Mycoskie would go on to create a company that would supply alpargatas, now known as TOMS, to those in need. Just seven years after its founding, Bain Capital LLC acquired a 50 percent stake in TOMS which valued the company at over $600 million. Also, since 2006, TOMS Shoes has provided over 60 million pairs of shoes to children.
Also on the GC500 is an organization whose creators, Jeff Holm and Cody Barker, found inspiration after discovering that thousands of people worldwide suffer from diseases associated with unclean water. Motivated to help underdeveloped countries like Nicaragua, Haiti, and Ghana, People Water, uses the profits generated from their water and water-related products to drill wells, repair some of the estimated 800,000 broken wells, establish purification systems and implement other new water-providing technologies. Through their efforts, thousands of people have access to safe, clean water.
Now, I'm not saying that you have to travel to the ends of the earth or start your own company to help others. There are plenty of ways to start finding more purpose in your day-to-day.
Try asking yourself a few of these "alternate questions":
Don't ask about your salary. Instead, ask if you compromised your character to obtain it?
Don't ask about your title. Instead, ask if you helped people regardless of your position?
Don't ask about how many friends you have. Instead, ask how many people you are a friend to?
Don't ask about what neighborhood you live in. Instead, ask how you treat your neighbors?
Don't ask about how many promotions you've received. Instead, ask how many people you helped achieve their goals?
These are just a few examples of value statements that helped me find more meaning. I encourage you to go through this thought process and cultivate your own set of purpose statements. Remember, the importance of goals is not solely in the achievement itself, but in the person we become while working towards them.