In these highly communicative times, we all get bombarded with links to amusing, emotive, sometimes silly, and occasionally offensive links to videos promoting a message. While the return on investment spent looking at some of this is questionable, I usually encounter one or two a year worth sharing with others.
My favorite last year was created by the Rainforest Alliance and entitled, “Follow the Frog.” Take three minutes and watch, if you have the time:
For those of you who can’t watch, the clip tells a fictional story about a young man who realizes that his life lacks meaning. He is inspired to save the rainforest by quitting his job and leaving his family to fight the rainforest destroyers head-on in South America. His pursuit turns into a challenging and demoralizing endeavor, to say the least. The narrator then shows how he can fulfill this same mission by focusing on purposeful choices in his current life, without having to endure the risks and trade-offs associated with living in the rainforest.
Putting aside the very clever humor used in the video, there are deeper messages to consider.
First, we can never experience true and enduring happiness until we find meaning in our work or career. This means knowing and feeling the answer to the question, “why I am doing this?” or “does it really matter that I am doing this?” Otherwise, our creative energy is constantly muted by confusion and uncertainty. We find ourselves having to work, versus choosing to work. Work is a hassle that adds stress to our life, as opposed to a being a boundless source of energy.
Occasionally, a client calls me to share that they are frustrated with their boss and or company and that it is time to go. I ask them where they intend to go. If the answer lacks substance or conviction, I advise them to “stay and find the meaning in your suffering.” Find the purpose you want to fulfill through work first, then you will attract the right purpose-driven opportunity for you. My most stress-free and productive friends and clients have linked their work to a higher purpose. Businesses that cultivate this integration of work and purpose tend to perform better as well. Visit an Apple store and a Best Buy store on the same day. Compare your experience, then research which business has performed better over the last five years.
The second part of the message addresses something that discourages people from seeking to integrate work with purpose. People often say, “at this point in my life, I can’t afford to abandon my job in pursuit of a more meaningful purpose.” They feel trapped in a meaningless job. Or, they feel that a purpose-driven job is confined to one in which you are directly involved in delivering a service or advancing a cause. My dear friend and colleague, Mary Ellen, is quite connected to our Stop At Nothing purpose, yet her deepest passion lies in fostering and rehabilitating abandoned dogs. She works tirelessly and joyfully during nights and weekends, and donates hundreds of dollars a year, in service to her mission. With full satisfaction, she knows that her day job greatly expands her ability to advance her cause.
For others, like you, it may be a matter of defining how your role as leader or co-worker makes a difference in the lives of your colleagues and their families. Or it could involve finding that your company’s mission is deeply aligned with how you choose to make a difference.
Follow these steps to experience more meaning, joy and energy at work:
- Find your “Frog to Follow.” Discover and write down three ways in which your work serves other people andhttps://stopatnothing.com//or adds meaning to your life. Pay attention to how what you are writing feels to you.
- How do my company’s products or services serve people, support or enhance life, contribute to humanity, or, in general, make the world a better place to live?
- How does my daily presence and influence contribute to the well being of others?
- How do the resources I create through work (money) enable me to fulfill a purpose outside of my work?
Usually the “Frog” resides in the answers to one or more of these questions.
Once you have found the Frog, you need to make sure you are following it everyday:
- Write a one or two paragraph expression of your mission and purpose.
- Post it in as many visible places as you can: computer desktop, notes app, or the wall of your office, cubicle, closet, or refrigerator.
- At day’s end, take two minutes to answer the question: what is one thing I did today to fulfill my purpose? This will feed your internal engine and passion.
- Avoid news media at the beginning or end of your day. Over-consumption of this media feeds fear, hopelessness, and negativity, which weakens our internal engine and saps our passion for living.
- Read your mission and purpose once per week. Schedule 15 minutes on Monday to do that. Let Siri help you!
- Be aware that the next time I see you I might ask, “where is your Frog?”