I’m currently reading Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. It’s a lively, fascinating read emphasizing how workplaces that use carrots and sticks miss the mark on what truly engages people.
Like Pink, I enjoy thinking about the importance of a sense of purpose to our lives, and encourage jobseekers I work with to reflect on that. Here is an excerpt from the Toolkit section of Drive that offers a nice question to ask yourself to get clearer on your purpose:
“In 1962, Clare Boothe Luce, one of the first women to serve in the U.S. Congress, offered some advice to President John F. Kennedy. ‘A great man,’ she told him, ‘is one sentence.’ Abraham Lincoln’s sentence was: ‘He preserved the union and freed the slaves.’ Franklin Roosevelt’s was: ‘He lifted us out of a great depression and helped us win a world war.’ Luce feared that Kennedy’s attention was so splintered among different priorities that his sentence risked becoming a muddled paragraph.
“You don’t have to be a president-of the United States or of your local gardening club-to learn from this tale. One way to orient your life toward greater purpose is to think about your sentence. Maybe it’s ‘He raised four kids who became happy healthy adults.’ Or ‘She invented a device that made people’s lives easier.’ Or ‘He cared for every person who walked into his office regardless of whether that person could pay.’ Or ‘She taught two generations of children how to read.’
“As you contemplate your purpose, begin with the big question: What’s your sentence?“