What’s my purpose?

One of the most common questions I’m asked is: “How do I find my purpose?” The askers seem bored with their current jobs. They feel lost. They want to work on something that has more importance to the world.

On November 18, 2007, Dennis Quaid’s infant twins were given two injections of Heparin — 1,000 times the normal dose. Heparin is a useful, but dangerous, blood thinning agent. The accident was fortunately caught in time, and an antidote was given to the twins saving their lives. But in 2008 a similar accidental use of Heparin occurred where 17 babies were given the wrong dosage. Two of them died.

Medical mistakes like these are still too common. Dennis Quaid made it his mission to raise awareness of the issue. He helped produce a documentary called Chasing Zero. The short film traces the stories of people who’ve been traumatized by human medical error with hopes of inspiring more medical practitioners to work to eliminate human mistakes.

Interestingly, the documentary team found the janitorial staff deeply involved in making changes at Mayo Clinic, a hospital known for going to great measures to reduce human error.

Mayo Clinic had discovered that the remote controls in patients rooms had higher bacterial counts than toilet seats. So the janitorial team, without even being asked, came up with new procedures and checklists to keep rooms cleaner.

When Iris Cowger, a janitor at Mayo Clinic, described her role,

We’re not just cleaning rooms. We’re saving lives.

She cleans walls, floors, toilets, and remote controls. But she has a radically different perspective of what she does. One that motivates her and her team to take innovative measures that further improve the lives of everyone she comes into contact with.

Iris found her purpose.

When we interviewed Highrise customers earlier this year about why they use Highrise, a simple CRM, we found an interesting niche of user.

These were folks doing sales who didn’t consider themselves salespeople. They were writers, designers, software developers, insurance agents, cosmeticians, etc. who just so happen to have to do sales to keep their businesses alive.

One customer described what he does as, “I’m salesperson in my head, but a designer at heart.” The thing that got him excited was designing the products his business sold. But he had to be out there making deals or the business would tank.

All of a sudden I had a new perspective on what we do here. We aren’t just hosting software to manage contacts, emails and follow-up reminders. We’re helping people keep their businesses alive and get back to what they actually love to do.

I know a lot of people are out there seeking new jobs and careers and businesses because they think they still haven’t found their purpose. So they keep looking. And looking. Sometimes making big changes to their careers and lives only to end up feeling like they still haven’t found what they’re looking for.

There’s nothing wrong with career change to get closer to things you have more passion for. But I think far too many people look at what they do myopically. When they open their eyes and see the people they affect with their work, it becomes much more clear how important the thing you do already is.

There are plenty of janitors at hospitals that see their jobs as simply cleaning rooms and floors. They check in. Check out. It’s a paycheck.

Iris saw the higher purpose of her job. She didn’t need a career change. She just needed the right perspective. And that perspective keeps her motivated to show up at work every day and save lives.

The key to finding your purpose is to be more like Iris.

P.S. You should follow me on YouTube: youtube.com/nathankontny where I share more about how we run our business, do product design, market ourselves, and just get through life.

And if you need a zero-learning-curve system to track leads and manage follow-ups you should try Highrise.

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