Which purpose?

Having started my professional life as a management consultant, I’m all too familiar with the snarky refrain of people exiting the sector, “I got tired of flying around the world to make the world safe for Fortune 500 companies.”

Clever enough.

What’s perplexing is that when you’re making a shift from something you did for some extrinsic reason (it appeared safer, more lucrative, was what everyone else was doing, was what you thought people around you wanted you to do) to an intrinsic reason, it can be hard to make out exactly what kind of “purpose” you’re looking for.

Put another way: “purpose” and “social purpose” are not the same thing.

Right now, in US at least, there is a supply/demand imbalance in the “social purpose” sector.  The number of positions in high-performing organizations in the social sector is a lot fewer than the number of people looking for those jobs.

But opening the aperture a little further to organizations with a purpose…I bet there’s a lot more out there.

Every entrepreneur worth her salt has a purpose, and most of the people who join their cause sign up for that purpose.  Every organization that sees the world one way and wants to look another way has a purpose. 

Purpose creates passion and zeal and focus and fun.  Purpose gets you out of bed in the morning.  Purpose is not apologizing for what you do when you explain it to others.  Purpose is knowing that, even if the thing you’re fighting for blows up tomorrow, you’ll walk away and say “that was worth fighting for.”

There’s a lot of purpose out there, if you look…with purpose.

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