Back in July, I wrote about social media efforts viewed through Po Bronson’s article at Fast Company about Six Myths. It motivated me to pick up Po’s inspirational book again: What Should I Do with My Life?.
I started reading the book again for ideas and inspirations I might share with my Sales Rescue Team project, which is helping small business owners with free online marketing and sales advice. Sometimes the need is less technical and more “hang in there” so I thought I could glean some nuggets of Bronson’s wisdom to share.
In just the first three chapters, I found what I was looking for and I’m continuing through the book (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it). Here are three quotes you might enjoy:
“Some people are born into their passions. Some never get them and don’t care. People who don’t have passions, don’t struggle.”
“Fear is like a wound within our emotions… Don’t let the fear get infected. Often we burn 70 percent of our emotional energy on what we fear might happen (90 percent of which won’t happen).”
“A lot of people like to solve problems. Not as many are willing to devote themselves to problems.”
It is one of my favorite books because he shares his journey and that of dozens of entrepreneurs and visionaries. In my bio, I explain why I love this book and another one by David Whyte.
But I have to revisit his Fast Company article here today. Bronson shares his insights on the semi-famous old parable about three bricklayers. Each one gives his answer as to why he is doing the job of bricklaying. One for the wages, one for the wife and kids, and one because he is building a cathedral. Here’s the powerful part from Po Bronson:
“Now, most people hear this parable, and they think the third guy has the right answer, and the first two guys have the wrong answer. That’s the simplistic lesson that most people jump to, led their by their mythic notions of calling. But that is not the lesson of the parable. In fact, all three men have a sense of purpose — have a “cathedral,” if you will. The first guy has the Cathedral of Spirituality. Good for him. But the second guy has his too. The Cathedral of Family. And the third guy has the Cathedral of Self-sufficiency.”
He continues, and this is clutch: “Those are all good purposes. Those are all right answers. The real lesson of the parable is, notice what no man answered. Not one of the three said, “I just love laying bricks.” Doing something for the sheer love of it is not what real people mean when they say their work provides a sense of purpose. That is not how they construct a sense of meaning and rightness. Looking for it, in that form, is incredibly illusory.”
When you are start your company, or continue to grow it, purpose is what sustains you. Some of Po Bronson’s thinking may give you just the inspiration you need to maintain or create an internal or external statement of purpose, for yourself and your company.