When I announced that I was leaving Microsoft, many of my colleagues were surprised if not shocked. Not because I was leaving the company, but because I was getting out of corporate employment altogether; I was not going to another company (possibly a competitor) or starting my own business to do as a consultant the same work I had been doing inside the company. Most of them could hardly hide their true thoughts when I spoke with them; they could not believe I would do something as foolish as leaving a corporate job (in a well-established and paid position) during a bad economy.
But the most interesting reaction I received was people’s assumption that I should look or go into the not-for-profit sector when I responded to their question, “Why are you leaving?” with the answer: “I want to do work that is meaningful and is in line with my core values of creativity, humanity, integrity, authenticity.” I found it interesting that most people automatically associated non-profit organizations/jobs with meaningful work that could make a difference in the world. I do not mean to say that there isn’t any connection between them; however, what intrigued me was the knee-jerk reaction in marrying meaningful work with the non-profit sector without further consideration.
Although I did not have a clear plan for my future career, work, or business at the time, one thing I knew with near certainty was that I was not interested in joining a non-profit organization. I did not automatically connect my desire to do work that would feed both my soul and my family with a non-profit position or organization. It was most probably because I wanted to create work rather than fit into an organization whether it was for-profit or not-for-profit. In addition, I was looking for work that is uniquely mine, something that only I could create, similar to an artist’s way of creating her works of art, I was approaching my new work more like an art, rather than employment.
That was almost six months ago. Yesterday, I found delicious synchronicity in seeing the following blurb from Happiness Initiative about a recently published book, Making Good: Finding Meaning, Money, and Community in a Changing World:
“Is it possible to have a meaningful career and make money at the same time? According to Billy Parish and Dev Aujla, the answer is yes. The pair’s new book, Making Good: Finding Meaning, Money, and Community in a Changing World, has been dubbed ‘the What Color Is Your Parachute? for the Facebook generation.’ Making Good, which came out in February , encourages young people everywhere to rethink, reimagine, and rebuild the world—while also achieving financial autonomy.”
That’s what I am talking about! I immediately followed the reference article, “Making Good: Finding Work That Is Meaningful” to read more about the book description. I felt a jolt of energy when I read the article. It felt terrific to confirm that I am not too far off in thinking that making good in the world and making money are not mutually exclusive activities. The authors, Billy Parish and Dev Aujla, have started their own social ventures to prove their own belief that:
“The opportunities are everywhere across the spectrum of industries, all waiting to reward your creativity and hard work. […] Today every system can be rebuilt in a way that makes good in the world, and there is work to do because of it. This is about training ourselves to see opportunity in apparent chaos, to use our understanding of fundamental human needs to create brand-new solutions that are both good for our world and for ourselves.”
I am very optimistic about our future. If the new generation of young people believe in having a meaningful career and making money at the same time, then we may be able to turn the tide toward creating the world that is good for people, the planet, and prosperity. We live in an amazing era, as compared to any other time in history, in which it is not only possible but imperative for each individual to live and work to benefit both the individual and the larger community in which the person belongs.
Indeed we are living in the bountiful both/and era and shifting away from the either/or mode that shrinks the world into half at its best!
As as if to underscore the synchronicity I am feeling, the following post by Seth Godin showed up in my inbox today:
Techniques and skill and even a point of view are often handed down, formally or not. It’s easier to get started if you’re taught, of course.
But art, the new, the ability to connect the dots and to make an impact—sooner or later, that can only come from one who creates, not from a teacher and not from a book.
And I would like to add: “The one who cares about the world creates for the world.”