Recently I met Blake Mycoskie, the 33 year old founder and “chief shoe giver” of TOMS Shoes. Blake was a successful business man before he was 30 but he is best known for the hip, canvas, flat-soled shoes that he started selling in 2006. Unlike more traditional for-profit companies, Mycoskie decided to build giving into the company philosophy. For every pair of shoes sold, TOMS gives a pair of shoes to a needy child, especially in places where children are at risk of soil-transmitted diseases, infections, or inability to attend school because they have no shoes to protect their feet as they walk long distances. TOMS looks for local partners to “help the same kids keep their feet protected for years.” TOMS was expecting to give away their one millionth pair of shoes this month.
Mycoskie and TOMS reflects a growing movement among a younger generation that is less concerned with making a profit and more concerned with making the world a better place. These people have lives of purpose. In his book Drive (click here to see last week’s newsletter/blog), Daniel H. Pink cites research (pages 142-146) showing that “attainment of a set of goals, such as making money, has no impact on well-being and actually contributes to ill-being.” People who keep pushing for more money or affirmation become more unhappy because there is “less room in their lives for love and attention and caring and empathy.” In contrast were people who had purpose and goals beyond themselves and felt they were making life better for others. These people reported “higher levels of satisfaction and well-being…and low levels of anxiety and depression.”
“We’re designed to be active and engaged,” Pink concludes. “We know that the richest experiences in our lives aren’t when we’re clamoring for validation from others, but when we’re listening to our own voice—doing something that matters, doing it well, and doing it in the service of a cause greater than ourselves.” This sounds pretty biblical to me.
Look at yourself, the people you work with, your business or career. To what extent are you motivated by a greater purpose?