‘Work on Purpose’

 In Centre News, Mohit

The following blog post has inspired a new module in our upcoming workshop on Positive Leadership, which we are holding next week. Read below to reconsider your purpose, or join us on campus for the course!

Can you remember when you were first asked, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
How about, “What impact do you want to have on the world when you grow up?”

This was one of the powerful opening activities that participants reflected upon in an Echoing Green ‘Work on Purpose’ seminar I recently attended. Most participants had never been asked the second of the two questions.

Echoing Green has been supporting social entrepreneurs for over three decades and has analyzed their careers to seek out patterns. Their ‘10 Principles of Work on Purpose’ is a synthesis of practices for anyone who wants a high-impact social change career, and it’s broken into three areas to assess and strive to complete: i) Right for You ii) Good for the World iii) Be Bold. At the workshop, which was organized as a ‘Train the Trainers’ event, participants were led through a process where they reflected on these three broad categories.

It was a powerful session and I want to share with you a few main take-aways from the day.

  • There are not enough structured spaces available to check in on fundamental questions of purpose. Such processes need to be integrated not only into K-12 curriculum but also into ongoing professional development opportunities. I’d like to commit to regularly asking myself (and my two daughters): “What impact do you want to have when you grow up?”
  • The idea of ‘celebrating failure’ (one of the modules from the training) is very powerful. We all experience self-doubt that holds us back from achieving our potential. Environments that allow us to feel comfortable being vulnerable, to share our ‘failures’ and then reflect on what we have learnt are invaluable!
  • Uncover your unique strengths, think about the needs of your environment, and, finally, give yourself permission to act; it is a simple but powerful 3-step framework. I feel it may be easier to know your strengths and the needs of your environment, but it can still very challenging to take bold action. Taking even one step forward can help launch a long impactful journey. And being immersed in a workshop of supportive people can be just the catalyst one needs to make this sort of move.

The Centre’s course on Positive Leadership is just one week away – perfect timing for me to incorporate some of the powerful content developed by Echoing Green into our next workshop. And our ‘Designing Your Life’ online course starting January 15th will also see some additions. I hope to see some of you there, and be ready, because I will be asking the question:
So, what impact do you want to have when you grow up?”

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  • Ali A. Garba

    The question and indeed this piece provide thoughtful insights into the course and its intended impact on participants. I will recommend the course to those who are trying to grapple with the dynamic nature of life and the attendant implications of ‘not doing something’ as they try to balance life goals with career paths.

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