The truth about finding fulfillment in your work.

Friday, I had lunch with my boss. We talked about the usual stuff - how's work, what are you learning, what can I help you with etc. But somewhere along in the conversation, we trailed off on how the company got started and how it's transformed over the years into what it is today. He said it all started because he wasn't being challenged creatively where he worked before. But now, thirteen years later, the focus of the company has changed. It's not about him anymore. He told me that his passion is in seeing young, whippersnappers like me (maybe not in those exact words) come in to work on Monday morning excited about the creative challenges ahead. To provide opportunity for the team to become a better version of themselves, leveraging our unique strengths, honing our craft and creating something new and beautiful, together.

What caught my attention isn't so much what he's doing (as grateful as I am for it) but why he's doing it. At some point in our lives, we all come to the revelation that whatever we're doing has very little value if it isn't being done to serve someone else. That's why some of the wealthiest and most privileged people on the planet are unfulfilled. They've used people, burned bridges and severed relationships to profit themselves in the short term, only to wake up 30 years later wondering why they've built their empire. Was it all worth it?

The good news is that when you endeavor to serve others, you'll often find them willing to return the sentiment.

Artists aren’t magicians. There’s no penalty for revealing your secrets. Martha Stewart teaches you how to make your house and life awesome. She gives her secrets away. People love it when you give your secrets away, and sometimes, if you’re smart about it, they’ll reward you by buying the things you’re selling.
— Austin Kleon, "Steal Like an Artist"

Is there any value in your endeavors? Are you doing anything to make the world a better place? If you're unsure, seek until you find it, adapt until you create it, or move on because you're wasting your time. This isn't to say that there's no value in doing something for yourself simply because you love it, but that selfish joys only have the capacity to take you so far and fulfill you so much before they run dry.

Going to college, starting a business, writing a blog, cooking a meal... in time, the initial novelty and enjoyment wears off as it becomes familiar. At that point, there must be something more substantial to keep us coming back with a smile on our face: making an impact in the lives of others. It's that simple.