Like your job? So what? A better question is: Do you make a difference?

We all want to believe our work is important. That it has meaning. That it makes the world a better place.

That’s why Simon Sinek insists that “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” They want to know your work has purpose, and they want to connect with that purpose.

That’s why Dan Pink, through years of research, has found that today’s employees want only three things from their work … and one of them is purpose. It’s the idea that our work connects us to a cause that’s larger than ourselves, and that drives deep motivation and engagement.

Money is nice. Advancement is great. But you want to know what we’re really jonesing for? It’s purpose. It’s the idea that what we do is actually worth a damn. That it makes a difference.

How powerful is purpose? It’s among the best predictors of how productive we’ll be — better, in fact, than our passion for our jobs.

In their latest book The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, Chip and Dan Heath cite recent research by Berkeley professor Morten Hansen, who was curious about whether purpose or passion would have a greater impact on job performance.

The results of Hansen’s research were astounding.

But what if you had only one or the other — only passion or purpose? What would the difference be?

According to Hansen, it would be huge.

Here’s how the results look in matrix form:

“The outcome is clear,” the Heaths write. “Purpose trumps passion. … The best advice is not “Pursue your passion!” It’s “Pursue your purpose!”

So how do you find your purpose? The Heaths have an awesome solution:

“Sometimes it’s useful to keep asking ‘Why?’ Why do you do what you do? It might take several ‘Whys’ to reach the meaning. For instance, consider a hospital janitor:

Boom. There it is.

It’s an amazing exercise that boils your job down to its essence: Why does what you do matter?

When you’ve answered that question, you’ve found your purpose. When you’ve found your purpose, you’ve found the key to productivity, motivation, engagement, and a life spent in service to more than just self or money.

And that’s everything.


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