“It’s one thing to work on stuff that seems sexy because it’s socially cool and financially rewarding. But fulfillment doesn’t come much from money or cool-power — all the money in the world can’t buy you a searing sense of accomplishment.” Umair Haque
Recently Umair Haque wrote a great piece for HBR on meaningful work. It resonates with a post which I wrote a couple of days on money being the ultimate validation. This world view is certainly contrary to accepted norms. However, I think the article does a great job in distilling the abstractness of creating meaning into three powerful questions:
- Does it stand the test of time? Knowing we have a finite amount of time on the planet, are you working towards something that will outlast your life on this planet? On the surface this may seem as a line of thought that only a privileged few can afford. However, once again, I think each of us has the ability to do so! This has to start initially with an idea and a vision for what you want changed and then a continued and committed effort, even if it is a side thing! The goal is to start this process!
- Does it stand the test of excellence? We regularly exchange our time unthinking of the long term impact of our work. What we need to ask is whether what we are creating is going to stand the test of time? With our culture of instant gratification we move further and further away from creating anything that lasts longer than a quarter or a year. Our visions need to be expanded to take into account a far longer view.
- Does it stand the test of you? This is definitely the hardest question that Umair asks in his article. Our work and ideas are a reflection of our capabilities and ambitions. Breaking through the barrier of exchange Xhours for Xdollars, we need to fundamentally shift our comprehension of value. Our benchmarks of success are unfortunately calibrated to metrics that narrow our vision rather than enlarging it. In order to make the shift we need to rethink the benchmarks that we hold ourselves currently accountable to.
I realize both Umair’s article and mine seem idealistic at best in a world that seems to be moving in a completely opposite direction. At the same time, we are living in a world where humankind is moving away from work generated for the collective good of society to that of achieving selfish fulfillment. I think if there is one take away from both these articles, it should be that we owe it to ourselves to believe that each one of us has the capability to make a difference in this world.