Finding Meaning Past Yourself

Do you experience the deeper meaning behind your work?


If your work is all about just the work (or worse, all about you), you won’t be able to have significant influence. There must be a greater reason, beyond yourself, to the work that you and your team are involved in. When what we do becomes detached from the purpose and passion, our work becomes unfulfilling.

To drive your influence past yourself, it's good to have something past yourself, right? So many leaders are leading and they're into the work and the work itself and what it's doing and their, their career and where they're going and all of that. But I'm telling you, this way will not sustain in a great way if you, if the boat, if your people feel like, that it really is the work is about just the work or just you. They need to feel what is in your heart of the big reason why you do what you do. The big reason why you do what you do.

I had an interesting week one time. Two CEO builders came to see me, different companies, home builders, big companies. The first one came in and he was talking about some stuff and then he said, "You know, but really I'm thinking about getting out of the home building business." I said, "Why?" And he said, "Well, it just has no meaning." He said, "I go buy a piece of land, I get it entitled, and zoned and all that and I develop a bunch of houses and we sell them all and make a pile of money, and then I go do it again, and make another pile of money, and I do it again and make another pile of money." And he made hundreds of millions of dollars. And he said, "It just doesn't have any meaning."

He said, "In fact, I'm thinking about going into the ministry." And I was thinking, I hope you don't minister anybody that I know, because in all this work, he hadn't found his heart. You couldn't feel it. I mean, his kids didn't know his heart. His wife didn't know his heart. He was detached from the whys and the passion, and opportunity always comes where passion and what you're good meet a need that changes lives for people in some way.

Well, here's what's interesting. Either the next day, I can't remember the next day or two days later, another builder comes in. And he's even more successful than the first one. Big company, and we're talking about a bunch of issues, and here's what he says to me.

He says, "You know, dealing with all this stuff but I don't know what I would do if it weren't for my work." I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Home building." I said, "Why?" and he said, "Because it gives me so much meaning." I said, "Really?" He said, "Yeah." I was thinking, "You should talk to this other guy." I said, "Tell me how." And here's what he told me. He said, "You know it, it starts when I'm get in a helicopter and I'll go up and I'll look at a big piece of land and he said when I'm looking at the land in my mind's eye I can see the cul de sacs with the kids at the end, you know at the end of the day out there they're playing soccer and riding their bikes. I can see the playgrounds and the green belts and families and, and the birthday parties. I can see the pools and I can see the swim meets. He said, "Then I sit down with the architects and I see the plans of the house." And he goes, "No, you can't have the stairway there. It's got to come there, so the whole family can see her come down the stairs with her prom dress on." And he's talking about the way the kitchen and the den are situated so the whole, and I'm like, "Ah, I want to live in your house."

And he says, "Home building has so much meaning." And I tell you what, you go to the culture of his company and that way was every day, people knew that they were doing something. It wasn't about him. It's about the prom dress, it's about the birthday party, it's about the people and the lives and if you ask them what they were doing, they were creating spaces for lives to grow. That's what they do. So if your influence is going to go past you, it's got to be something in you, that's past you for other people to get it.
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Dr. Henry Cloud

Dr. Henry Cloud is an acclaimed leadership expert and psychologist who draws on his extensive experience in business, leadership consulting, clinical psychology, and church ministry to impart practical and effective wisdom for growing...

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