One of the things I love about the changing landscape of work is the growing emphasis on purpose. It's no longer enough to take a job that pays a fair wage and leads to a career that funds a desired lifestyle while funding a retirement. All of that's great, but it's still lacking if the work doesn't connect to some greater purpose.
BetterUp Labs did a pretty revealing survey in 2017 that highlights the power of purpose. It found, for instance, that 9 out of 10 employees would sacrifice a percentage of their lifetime earnings for the promise of greater meaning in their work. This was true across age groups, by the way. But the same survey found that, on average, "employees say their work is about half as meaningful as it could be."
We crave meaning in our work, but we're not getting much meaning in our work. So how do we find more meaning in our work? I can sum up the solution in one word: Love.
The problem is that despite our longing for purpose, we too often still see business as a purely rational endeavor and an intellectual pursuit. Yeah, purpose is nice, but people are really just cogs in the machine. If we want joy and happiness and purpose, we need to look beyond work and find those in our personal life. Work can go-fund-it, but it can't provide real purpose and meaning.
But the idea that we have to sacrifice one part of ourselves to nurture another is not only false but destructive to our real happiness and our ability to find and live for a greater purpose.
Here's our ideal state as human cogs in the machine of work: To be successful in our business ventures, to amplify personal joy and meaning in our lives, and to change the world for the better. Those are not mutually exclusive ideas.
You can be a jerk and make money, but you don't have to be a jerk and make money. You can sacrifice money for joy, but you don't have to sacrifice money for joy. And you can change the world by becoming a martyr, but you don't have to be a martyr to change the world.
A truly successful career comes from loving what you do and the people connected to your work, because that's how you earn a living and find meaning and purpose in your work. You don't have to apologize for the money you earn or the joy you experience or the impact you have on making the world better. That's what you're built to do, so go do it.
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