This is The Single Most Important Trend in Work
The American spirit was founded on optimism, which is vastly different than hope. Because hope requires no action. Optimism is the belief that our actions will lead to better lives. The famed psychiatrist Silvano Arieti once said, “The world’s mental institutions are filled with creative thinkers.” True creativity requires action.
No other category of work better symbolizes optimism than in our country’s rapidly growing ranks of the social entrepreneur. They design, develop, and implement solutions to social, cultural, and environmental issues. These are not starry-eyed do-gooders. Social Entrepreneurs recognize the best way to change the world is to fuse their missions to vigorous business plans. In other words, if we want to convert to green energy, make it more profitable than petroleum, coal, and natural gas. Think about this. When we turn “doing the right thing” into the most successful business model, we create true sustainability.
Social entrepreneurs don’t view money as the root of all evil. They show all of us the value of bringing morality and integrity to the way that money is used and made. Masters Degrees in Social Entrepreneurism are now the fastest-growing category in business schools and many young people will only work for organizations that make our world a better place to live.
For the last 28 years, our company has delivered the Inspired Work Program to people who want to elevate their relationship towards work. They engage in a deep self-inquiry of what they want to do with their lives. From the very beginning, one of the common themes is in finding work that is more meaningful for them. That outcome is unique for each participant. For example, there is the marketing executive from a bank that spends the rest of his life successfully working in the art world. There is the marketing executive in another program who realizes his sole responsibility is to increase shareholder value. He leaves to launch his digital advertising agency, one that is devoted to serving social entrepreneurs. There is the CFO who leaves a major bank. He becomes a wealthy farmer who employs his family, a tribe of formally migrant workers.
In my own life, my path towards launching Inspired Work began when my record producer dropped dead of a heart attack. At that moment, I realized the lack of meaning in my life. The only true meaning we have in life is the meaning that we bring to our lives. I left my last job in 1990. I was a successful staffing executive. Recently, I had lunch with my ex-boss. When she sold her company, she had the freedom to grow her career as an artist. Today, her sculptures are installed in some of the world’s great museums. When we sat down, the first words out of her mouth were,
“What is it like to wake up in the morning and to be you?”
I asked what she was talking about. “Because of your work, thousands of people have new lives. What is it like to wake up to that?”
As I opened my mouth the tears welled up.
“It feels like redemption.”
When I found the work I was born to do, everything in my life fell into place. For every one that I have helped in finding their purpose and to help them make their best living from that, is redemption because it is sacred.
Today, in 2019, the world of work is undergoing the biggest restructuring since the printing revolution. When people walk in the doors of our programs, many are overwhelmed by change and concerned with how they are going to make a living in the future of work. This is such a common theme in our country that I believe it is the single biggest force behind the turmoil we see today.
Social entrepreneurism is the first business model that I buy hook, line, & sinker. Since we began Inspired Work, it has been clear we have succeeded when a client or participant finds the work they most love and makes a good living from that.
How does this apply to the future of work? It is the future. That future isn’t reserved for young people, it belongs to everyone who works.
Social entrepreneurism is not limited to the younger generations. People of all ages are recognizing that by making competence the first step of their endeavors, they can make visions work. Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank, introduced microloans and financing to the poorest regions on earth. He is 78 years old. His work has helped hundreds of thousands of our poorest citizens become business owners. He tells us, “Making money is no fun. Contributing to and changing the world is a lot more fun.”
Al Gore has lost all interest in campaigning for a future political office. Through social entrepreneurism, he made between $200-300 million through sound investments in green energy. Gore often talks about how the resistance to converting from petroleum to green-based economies are all about profits. To that end, the most effective approach is to make even more money through sustainability. Today, Al Gore partners with Silicon Valley’s most storied venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins. They designed a vetting process in which green energy entrepreneurs have to meet exacting competency standards in their business model, marketing plan, leadership capabilities, and talent strength.
Social entrepreneurs are speeding the conversion forward by reshaping the purpose of business to not only satisfy shareholders but to restore equal importance to the customers, employees and the world around them. This conversion is no longer in the future, it is already happening.
Because work is our biggest relationship.
Squeezing our hearts, minds, and souls into obsolete jobs has turned many of us into small versions of our true selves.
Social entrepreneurism is somewhat of a very big antidote to that malaise. Years ago, tech pioneer Peter Diamandis, co-founded X-Prize. The organization inspires billionaires and large companies to offer cash awards for those who solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. The innovations from this venture include a portable CT/MRI that diagnoses patient illness and injuries in 3rd world countries, a non-toxic way to clean up oil spills, and recently, a form of Artificial Intelligence that will protect women from violence. Just this past year, a revolutionary machine was towed out of San Francisco. It is now the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to begin cleaning plastic from our oceans.
Mr. Diamandis tells the country’s workers, “Your mission is to find a product or a service that will positively impact one billion people because that is the game we are playing today.”
Advancing technology is offering us freedom. That has always been the purpose of technology.
The real questions worth answering today are:
- What do you want to do with your freedom?
- What is your perfect blend of meaning and wealth?
- How can you let go of the past in time to do it?
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