“Everything that lives, lives not alone nor for itself”
I have a constant reminder of this quote, after putting it on my website homepage. I wanted it to both communicate a message and be used as a guiding line for my work.
I’m fortunate enough to love my work, even after years of practice, yet I didn’t want even for a minute to deviate from the overarching purpose of what I intend to do: serving others, serving a bigger cause than myself and my closest circles.
It’s not an easy ride though.
Too often, we encounter opportunities to chase a more comfortable endeavor, one that pays off in the short run.
Why not serving myself and my family first? Why not making the easy money and only then donate some of it to charity? Why not practicing a profession that its fruits could be picked up immediately, instead of years of pursuing social change?
In short: Not every easy and comfortable choice is the right one for us.
I believe that deep inside, people are wired to pursue a meaningful cause that will motivate them in the long run.
Over the years of working with leaders, changemakers, entrepreneurs, educators and activists — I’m familiar with the shared language of the passion to change the world for the better.
However, I’ve also worked with many others in different sectors and professions who do not necessarily define themselves as changemakers. The common to all of them — they still want to make a positive change; they are still longing for meaning in life and at work, where we spend a great portion of our time.
Everyone wants to put a positive dent in the world.
Which ties back to living and working not for ourselves, but for others as well. Because even if we sometimes forget, and being carried away with the tides of life, deep inside we know this truth: we create meaning by serving others, and we remain motivated and passionate by being part of something bigger than ourselves.
There’s another interesting angle to this quote: we don’t live alone.
I looked at this part before in relation to nature. It resonated with me since I grasp our human existence as part of the ecological system, and I hope that by inspiring others to look at it this way, it will help more people to take care of the environment.
But now, while being invested in the mission of preventing changemakers’ burnout, I see another powerful perceptive: our connectedness to others. Our belonging to a social system, that in its best shape is reciprocally supports us.
The connection to burnout prevention came out from the research for my book “Burning Out Won’t Get You There”. Evidently, cultivating supportive and trustworthy human connection(s) is a key to avoiding burnout or stepping out of it once it’s happened.
And so, suddenly the famous old quote of William Blake receives another meaning.
We don’t live alone or for ourselves because we don’t need to. It’s our responsibility to serve others but also our reward. When we engage with others, we’re more likely to cross life’s challenges in a better way. Challenges will still occur, but knowing that we’re part of something bigger than us will help us face them.
Blake coined that quote around 200 years ago, but in 2019 those words are relevant than ever before.
In a world that moves at a rapid pace, where jobs are fluid and global interconnectedness is increasing, we encounter both danger and opportunities. Either we are swept by the disruption and give up, or we seize the opportunity and harness it to make a true positive social shift.
Now is the best time to serve a bigger cause, because despite the disruption, collaboration is accessible and reachable. Fluid jobs and an emerging future of work mean that instead of afraid of the unknown — we can determine what kind of work we would like to do. We can design the business sector to benefit society, if we wish to.
We don’t live alone nor for ourselves, and how fortunate we are to take part in those exciting times of change.
Let’s make it a dialogue: I appreciate your input in the comments.
For a comprehensive guide on preventing burnout and cultivating wellbeing, check out my recent book “Burning Out Won’t Get You There”