What are you working towards in your career? I think most of us would think about this for less than five seconds before answering. Maybe we would say, “To make enough money to not work,” or “To provide for my family.” Any answer along these lines seems fair to me. I understand someone not wanting to work their entire life, or another person just working to make life more comfortable for their family. Truthfully, there is nothing wrong with either one of these options. I will say, though, that these should not be the people running a business. Corporate values help steer a company, and a CEO must embody these principles. If the only ethos that drives a leader is a call towards making more money, a company is doomed to attract the wrong kind of team members, and it is doomed to make choices that lower its reputation. I do not mean to say you have to give up on profitability, nor is it required that you work only for charity. However, to build an extraordinary company, you need to determine what moves you and your career beyond a dollar amount.
Here is an exercise; what would you tell your younger self or your children that you do? Working in Captive Insurance, I know that explaining my job to some adults proves a challenge. Instead, I can tell them that I try to help people protect their businesses better than anyone else and make companies grow faster than they could without me. That is the essence of what I do; everything else is just details. Even if your job is straightforward, you need to be able to explain it in a way that shows its real value. If you are a garbageman, you might be in business because you want to keep the city clean for every resident. Should that be the case, you could be the best in your field. Otherwise, if you are just in it for the paycheck, you are just going to be a run-of-the-mill employee.
Sometimes, you cannot boil your job down into anything more substantive. Sometimes you are going to hate what you do, or it is meaningless to you – this is a clue that you might need to move on. You should not reverse engineer your purpose from your profession. Determining your purpose earlier will make it easier for you to avoid jobs that do not aid in your calling. That said, many of you will find that your job does fit into your why. You, however unconsciously, found your way into a position that feeds into your larger story. If you cannot find any shred of your why in your job, though, maybe you need to start considering a change.
So, why are you in business? Take all the time you need.