Passion provides the fuel for purpose and meaning. It requires an all-in willingness to sacrifice for the commitment. And it always connects to serving others. You become a force of nature when your passion for creating a transformative influence won’t be slowed by the elements around you.
Now more than ever, we need leaders with the ability, and drive, to provide clarity and opportunity. When we are passionate about having a transformative influence on the lives of people, it creates a fire that burns throughout our organizations. It’s a force of nature that cannot be controlled, and one that can positively impact us all.
I’ll never forget what I learned about purpose from a second-grader at Maxwell Elementary in Denver — watch the video below for the special story.
As people, all of us crave meaning and purpose, we just do, it’s a human element.
And we not only crave it in our lives, we actually crave it in our jobs. We want to know what we’re doing has meaning and purpose. And we want clarity in the things that we do, but we want to know how that fits into something that’s bigger. Ultimately, we want to work for companies that make a difference, I believe.
And I also believe it’s the leader’s responsibility to point us in that direction.
When I first took over at Prologis, my friend called me and said, “Hey, let’s teach Junior Achievement together.” And I was pulling out my hair, I hardly had any time. I said, “Okay, I’ll do it.” And we, I said, “But we need to do it at in an inner city school. And something that’s close to my office, selfishly, I need to get there and get back.”
So we did and we taught second grade and the teacher asked us, okay, first thing I want you to do is to tell these, our kids, you know what you do. So I’m teaching second graders, so I had to think, you know, how do I tell them what I do?
So I said, I build, my company builds buildings. And we began to teach and this little second grader tugged on my pant leg.
And I looked down at her and she said, “You build buildings?”
I said, “Yes.”
And she said, “Can you build my grandmother and I a house?”
And…I didn’t know, I didn’t exactly know what to say, you know?
First thing I did was look to the instructor like, how do you bail me out of this? And then fortunately the instructor said he doesn’t build those kinds of houses.
And afterward I talked to the instructor, I said, “Hey, what was that all about?” and She said, “Well, unfortunately a third of our kids “don’t have a mother, or dad. You know, dad’s incarcerated, moms on drugs. They live with their grandparents and they tend to live house to house and live with relatives, distant relatives and sometimes people they don’t know. And she’s one of them.”
And man, I tell you, I went back to the office and I said, “We got to do something about this.” So, you know, it’s interesting, we started with Junior Achievement. We allowed our employees to work — we told them we want them to work, I should say – with Junior Achievement.
And we got 50% of our workforce to do it, in inner city schools.
And then we said, “Well, this is pretty neat!” And so we had 100 offices throughout the world and we said, “Well, Junior Achievement is not in every one of them, but we’d like you to all pick out something that you want to do and make sure that everybody does it. Because working with your hands — everybody wants to see that the company means, that it stands for something, right?”
And I do think that corporate America has made a lot of strides since I was CEO. And so many more companies do it today, for sure.
But I think we all crave meaning and purpose. And I see what happened to our company throughout the world, and we made a difference.
We changed people’s lives.
And you know what, that is transfluence at its finest.