We’ll go out of our way to help others through a cause that is near and dear to us. We’ll volunteer. We’ll give money. We’ll even put aside personal wants in order to help. Why is that? Because these things help us feel a sense of purpose.
Yet, for the vast majority of us, that kind of energy and enthusiasm gets left behind when we head off to our jobs.
That’s a tragedy. No, seriously. Tragedy is not too strong of a word here. We spend half our waking hours at work. Half! Why are we so willing to allow half our time to be so uninspiring?
Owning the passion
I was reacquainted recently with a great quote by Studs Terkle from his classic Working:
“Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.”
Those last 7 words are like a punch in the gut. I find myself immediately asking, “Am I pursuing a purpose, or have I just accepted ‘a Monday through Friday sort of dying’?”
We can say that there is nothing we can do. That the organization or the culture is too impenetrable. That’s understandable. It’s not true. But it’s understandable. Sometimes it’s just easier to punch the clock and collect the paycheck.
Until we read those last 7 words again.
Here’s the thing. We can do more than we allow ourselves. We can bootstrap and prototype purpose in our organizations. We can identify how we can make a difference in a life, a community, or even the world with our daily work (I call it Big Audacious Meaning).
It’s not out of our reach or above our pay grade. It’s available to any of us. It just takes a little courage. Not a lot. Just a little. Just enough to start. And to see how far we could go.
That’s an exciting thought. To begin doing a little to infuse a purpose. To believe we could bring our passion along with us to our jobs.
It’s 50% of our waking hours. Our Monday through Friday lives. Let’s not waste a minute.
Dan is the creator of the Big Audacious Meaning. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life. He regularly shares his insight here on Linkedin and at dansalva.com.