We were having a meal with a good friend. He came out of the world of poverty to become a world class leader in the field of innovation. Personally he knows many of the greatest contributors of our time.
In our discussion he shared that many members of his extended family still live in poverty and are trapped in multiple, self-defeating habits. They cannot get out of the social and psychological traps they live in.
Later he spoke of a niece. He invested a great deal of money to help her get an education and move forward in life. Some family members suggested that it was unfair. Why would he invest so much in her and so little in others?
He replied, “She is the only one with a desire to move forward. When the bad times come, she will move through them successfully. She will grow and she will become a contributor. Investing in the others would be a nice thing to do, but it would be a waste of money. Even if they got through college they would still end up living in habits of self-destruction. They have no purpose. They lack the vision and they have no desire to change their lives. She has purpose, vision and desire.”
It was a strong position. We talked about the process of creating desire in people who do not have desire. He did not see inspiration as his strong suit. He felt like he could do more by locating people with desire and helping them.
The conversation turned to an exploration of how some people find purpose and desire. Someone at the table talked about how people find a sense of calling in life. Because they have a purpose, they begin to move towards the purpose doing things they do not yet know how to do and that other people will not do. As this happens they begin to acquire a great asset. They learn how to learn from new experiences.”
As this sentence was uttered, our innovator friend became highly animated. He almost came out of his seat. He said, “Yes, and they begin to move past the people in front of them.”
He was suggesting that many people are gifted and born into fine homes with extensive resources. They go to good schools and they get top grades. They then attend the most prestigious universities and they excel. In mastering the process of academic learning, they qualify for highly desirable jobs. They are in front of the line.
He began to tell stories of people who went to mediocre schools and had mediocre grades. Eventually they found a purpose and it transformed them. It was a rebirth. They could suddenly see potential in the world and potential in themselves. They began to invest in a future that they believed they were being called to create. As they moved forward they began to learn how to learn from their new experiences. As they ponder these unique experiences, they learn at a rapid rate. This learning turns them into leaders and propels them past the people in the front of the line.
How does purpose change behavior?
How does ponder experience at the edge of chaos turn people into leaders?
How can we use this passage to create a more positive organization?