Focus on Why You Work For Energy And Success

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Last Saturday, I spoke at the Identity Conference about Why We Work.

It’s a critical topic for all of us.  What’s our motivation for our 9-5 efforts?  If it’s just ‘making a wage’ we are likely to be as listless as the first of the three bricklayers on the scaffold that architect Christopher Wrenn encountered one day during the rebuilding of St. Paul’s cathedral.  (See video for more)

If, on the other hand, you ‘are building a temple for the almighty’, you will be the motivated, spirited and engaged worker – the third one that inspired Wrenn to write his story and share it with other managers and leaders.  

Whatever you do, you need to know the purpose.  According to nazi war camp survivor Viktor Frankl’s great book, where there is meaning, there is no suffering.  I can attest to this in my business life.  Even a back of the plane seven hour flight with no sleep was OK when I was evangelizing the good word about Yahoo and the promise of the internet.  I was fine with a cot-like bed in a cold room when I was speaking at a spiritual retreat for CEOs.  

The good news is that, according to Frankl, your meaning will put in an appearance.  The trick is for you to detect it, accept it and let it be your energy source as well as your compass.  In my case, a few years ago, I read a paraphrased scripture in a devotional guide that jumped off the page: “Provoke outbursts of love and good works.  As we gather in public, encourage others to do the same.”  Aha! Since then, I’ve pursued that purpose in all my business development and it’s the focal point of my work.  Now I have a clear criteria for saying yes or no to opportunities. 

The better news is that there are no requirements for your work’s purpose to be a certain size or orginal for that matter.  For some, the purpose of work is to take care of your family.  That’s as noble as purpose as any.  For others, your work might be to help a small group of students, volunteers, etc. – again, it’s a worthy purpose that you can tap into for unlimited energy. 

I’ve met several people that align with the purpose of their employers: Enviornment (Interface), Cause (TOMs or Timberland), Church Planting (Willow Creek), Helping community (Rural Electrical Coops).  In this case, the work provides the purpose with paycheck and you are a part of the solution.  These cause driven organizations need leaders, talent, followers and well wishers to make their mark.  

So, my challenge to you today, is to ask yourself: Why do I work?  The money you make is merely a means to an end, but it’s your challenge to find that worthy Why and let it be your guide and your stronghold.  If you find it and observe it’s importance, who knows, you’ll never say, “I have to go to work today.”  Purpose will transmute the obligation of work into an opportunity to make meaning. 

Like myself, you’ll see every workday as a ‘GET TO’ make a difference day – for family, friends, community, future generations and beyond.  And purpose is, like confidence, Rocket Fuel for your personal performance.