by Andrew Ripley, Co-Founder of PurposeMatch. Follow us on Twitter: @PurposeMatch and @AndrewRip
Here’s some interesting news from around the world on the topics of purpose and social impact…
Dr. Jennifer Aaker is an author, behavioral psychologist, and theGeneral Atlantic Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business. At the NewCo Shift Forum last month, Aaker presented on “The Purpose of Purpose.” She points out that we chase happiness as a goal, but that truly getting to “happy” involves understanding purpose, both at work and in life.
This is a brilliant talk, so click on the link to watch the full 14 minute video. Dr. Aaker discusses the topic from several perspectives. First, how your individual purpose changes at different stages in your life. But also, how purpose plays out within an organization, and why businesses that have a defined purpose are more successful.
Who says that all the genius ideas have to come out of Silicon Valley?
The 92nd Street Y’s annual 7 Days of Genius festival wants to dismantle the idea that “genius” comes from hubs like Silicon Valley, and show that it really happens when people work together.
This is pretty awesome. At “New Lab,” a co-working space in Brooklyn, a crowd gathers to take turns entering a portal, an immersive space equipped with a camera and a human-scale screen that enables anyone who walks in to have what feels like a face-to-face conversation with anyone, anywhere in the world.
Imagine impact entrepreneurs in Brooklyn collaborating with impact entrepreneurs in Kigali, Rwanda in this virtual environment.
Think of the potential. Through international and cross-cultural collaboration, we help people all over the world reach their fullest potential. The more people reach their potential, the better world we have. The better world we have, the more peaceful world we have. And the more communication we have across distant cultures, the more we break down barriers and help us understand that we’re more alike than we are different.
Speaking of Global Impact, a recent report released by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission may be the most comprehensive global economic sustainable development snapshot available in the world today.
Very interesting read, that will give you a snapshot of what’s happening globally, where we continue to make progress in tackling the world’s greatest problems, and where we continue to see the greatest needs.
This is a great article in the Washington Post by Angel B. Perez, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success at Trinity College in Connecticut. This hits a lot of themes that are in the DNA of PurposeMatch, particularly the facts that people want to find meaningful work, but that also that today’s students will have multiple careers throughout their lifetime, therefore they must learn how to create their own paths.
For decades, colleges and universities have approached career preparation the same way. They provide job-search tools, networking advice, and résumé consulting. Higher education’s approach to helping students plan for the future must change because the landscape that graduates inherit already has.
Research shows today’s students may have between 10 and 14 jobs by the time they are 38 years old. Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, write in “Designing Your Life,” that in the United States, only 27 percent of college graduates are working in the field of their major.
Even employers are taking note of this generation’s interest in finding meaningful work and making changes to their own organizational cultures.
In “Conscious Capitalism,” authors John Mackey and Raj Sisodia highlight companies including Whole Foods Market, Google, Starbucks, Twitter, Deloitte, Pepsi, and the Tata group that have fundamentally transformed their cultures to focus on doing work for the greater good.
They note that “business has a much broader positive impact on the world when it is based on a higher purpose. Purpose is the reason the company exists. A compelling sense of higher purpose creates an extraordinary degree of engagement among all stakeholders and catalyzes creativity, innovation, and organizational commitment.” They believe that employees today look for inspiration to find meaning in their work.
In fact, professor Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School found that “of all the events that can deeply engage people in their jobs, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.”
As for how colleges are approaching this…
Some colleges are already implementing course work, advising, and seminars to create a platform for students to use their college years to figure out not only what they are good at doing but also what they are passionate about. However, more should join the movement.
Stanford University’s Life Design Lab, which includes the popular course “Designing Your Life,” is an innovative approach. Harvard University’s “Reflecting on Your Life” sessions and Bates College’s Purposeful Workprogram are other examples. My own institution, Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., recently developed a new strategic plan for student career and personal preparation, a key pillar of which is to create intentional infrastructure in a student’s academic and co-curricular journey that encourages the exploration of purpose and meaning.
Trinity also was one of seven liberal arts colleges that took part in a five-year study that examined how decision-making in college can affect the trajectory of an individual’s post-college life. The study’s results supported the idea that learning takes place as much outside the classroom as inside. The study also showed that the college experience is not a single path toward graduation but one that has varied choices and opportunities along the way.
And finally, here’s an article from “The Science of Us” at New York Magazine, discussing the human psychology behind finding meaning and happiness in your life. While more than 50% of Americans get a “sense of identity” from their job, this piece tries to keep things in perspective, by addressing the fact that your life is much more than just your work.
Consider, for example, Holocaust survivor and preeminent psychologist Victor Frankl in his classic book, Man’s Search for Meaning:
I wish to stress that the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche … I have coined this term ‘the self-transcendence of human existence.’ It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone other than oneself.
It continues with recent research that shows…
As meaningful as devoting oneself to mastery may be, devoting oneself to helping others is perhaps even more powerful. (Of course, the two aren’t exclusive.) One of the world’s foremost happiness researchers, Sonya Lyubomirsky, recently told me that her research continues to show that one of the best ways to boost both happiness and meaning is to perform acts of kindness, such as volunteering, mentoring, coaching, or even just writing someone a letter of gratitude. When individuals participate in these activities, she says, they report more positive emotions, both immediately and over time.
Basically, here’s where we find the most meaning —
The key to a meaningful life, it seems, is to think and do less about ourselves. This message feels particularly relevant. Instead of increasingly devoting our time — and if projections about job-replacing technology are right, we may soon have more of it — to ego-boosting pursuits, we’d be wiser to pursue mastery and focus on helping others.
Finally, if the topics of purpose and social impact resonate with you…
I’d like to invite you to sign up for an account at PurposeMatch. We’d love to help you explore a deeper sense of purpose, and design a life and career that makes an impact. We truly believe that together we can use our lives to create a better world!