“Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.”
– Howard Thurman
We recently had the pleasure of spending some time learning from Chris Barton, the co-founder of Shazam. As an experienced and successful entrepreneur sharing his story with an audience of start-up founders, the Q&A inevitably led to a question about work/life balance, and how he was able to cope with the sacrifices that come when you’re building a business. His response was fascinating, and perhaps more insightful than anything else he shared during the session because he, with genuine surprise at the assumption behind the question, replied that he hadn’t made any sacrifices.
What that exchange reveals is that we each have a very different perspective on what “work” is, and what looks and feels like work to you may be exactly what someone else would choose to do with their time. Chris Barton eating pizza until 3 am building Shazam may have looked like work to some, but it never felt like work to him.
The old cliché says that if you find something you love doing, you’ll never work a day in your life. Despite that, we assume work has to feel like a sacrifice, and we’ll often allow ourselves to make that sacrifice for the money we earn. But that has led to a fundamental misconception: The point is not to spend your time doing the stuff you hate to earn money so you can eventually do the stuff you love. The point is to do what you love. Period.
Sure, this is easy to say and perhaps, for many reasons, harder to actually do. But, while it may be difficult to achieve, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to get closer to it each and every day. As Chris Barton revealed, that’s the true secret to success. Removing the friction of “work” from your life will allow you to be the very best version of yourself as you deliver your greatest impact in the world.
It’s really that simple. The world needs more of whatever you love doing, and it needs you to come alive doing it.