Purpose on Purpose: Thinking Small about Something Very Big

Purpose is one of the most important elements of work-life fulfillment. It’s a fundamental motivator for us to be successful and effective in our work, and also to be fulfilled and satisfied. It’s a big deal.

But what is purpose? First, it’s a sense of being connected to something bigger than ourselves. Second, it’s a feeling that our work matters to something bigger. Third, it’s a feeling that we’re connected to others.

People want to build cathedrals, not just lay bricks. When we have a sense of purpose, it gives us greater meaning. It gives us a sense that our work is building toward a greater whole. The catch on purpose is that it must also be about others. While a good corporate citizen will do his or her best to contribute toward company goals of ‘15% annual growth’ or ‘becoming the industry leader’, these more objective, analytical outcomes won’t inspire deep motivation.

Real meaning comes from an understanding of how our work and the mission of the organization serve people. We’re social beings, and work is fundamentally social. So the greatest fulfillment comes from clarity about how our work contributes to the community.

Individuals who feel the greatest sense of purpose and engagement are typically those who bring meaning to their work

Summing-up: Sometimes the biggest, most important concepts – like purpose – are best understood in the form of elegance and simplicity. Finding purpose is doing what you do well, for the benefit of others on an ongoing basis. It’s a big deal, and it’s that simple.

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