What Makes You Itch?

Don’t you love those moments when someone says something that you’ve always recognized, but never been able to put your finger on? I had one of those moments of clarity at the last Elevate session (s/o to William and Galen) at New Leaf on Wednesday.

In his closing remarks Michael Williams, the facilitator for the evening, shared this quote with us:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
- Howard Thurman

and then contrasted that to how people who create companies are always told to go find a need that the market has and fill it. In that contrast, I realized why I had left the business school and where a lot of my frustrations with the University’s “entrepreneurship” initiatives stem from - they tell people to go find a need and fill it, not to do what they get excited about and will kick ass at.

This is why there is a lot of mediocrity in the world. If you work to fill a need you are only going to do average work - I don’t care who you are. Once the need is met it is no longer in your domain. You seek to fill that need in a vacuum, you don’t consider the customer, their experience, or their journey, just that you met that one need.

If you do something that “makes you come alive” then you are not going to produce something that is mediocre. You’re going to care about the little things - the sound the door makes when people enter your store or the way it smells, the automated follow-up email when people order something from you, or the weight of your napkins. That is what the world needs more of. So much happiness and human potential are lost because people are not excited about how they are spending their time.

Here’s some Alan Watts to get you excited: