This year, Tim Cook gave the commencement speech at MIT. The famous CEO of Apple admitted to a sea of new graduates and their families that it took him about 15 years to find his purpose. He kept searching for meaning while adding achievements to his resume, yet, the question remained for him: Is this all there is?
“…use your minds and hands and your hearts to build something bigger than yourselves. Always remember there is no idea bigger than this,” Cook advised before quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, “All life is interrelated. We are all bound together into a single garment of destiny.”
Purpose and people before profits.
Cook finally found his answer after joining Apple, where he realized his values aligned with their mission: To serve humanity. He noted that we should always put people at the center of our decisions — both personal and business. By doing so, you will have an enormous impact.
Unfortunately, finding one’s purpose may not be a top priority for those whose personal and professional lives are being made uncertain by technological advances. Robots are automating more and more business tasks. And, social media may be dividing us more than connecting us, and helping to create social isolation and loneliness. Skyrocketing suicide rates could become a public health epidemic.
Many of us are searching for our purpose and engagement, at home and in the office. According to The World's Broken Workplace, written by Chairman and CEO at Gallup Jim Clifton, only 30% of Americans feel engaged at work. He found that generations younger than Baby Boomers rank their jobs equally or higher than creating a family. Because work is a greater priority to these millennials, they need more fulfillment in the office. They want to work at a company that has a clear sense of purpose of its own. One that they can embrace.
But it’s not just millennials seeking purpose – It’s people of all ages.
Maybe you have considered joining Apple in serving humanity. Or you thought about supporting TOMS Shoes’ One for One program that helps provide shoes, bullying prevention, sight, water, and safe birth services to people in need. If switching employers isn’t feasible, volunteering for nonprofits is another great resource for discovering social responsibility opportunities aligned with your values.
You may not find your purpose tomorrow, but don’t stop searching. Even some of the greatest minds and most successful executives have spent over a decade pursuing meaning in their lives. It’s not always an easy answer and the journey may be challenging, but your purpose does exist. You matter, and your actions matter.
Co-authored with Shane Power, President of Watertree Health, where Lisa works in communication and business development.