If you’ve ever faced a significant crisis in your life you’ll have experienced the power of purpose to tap reserves of energy, determination and courage you likely didn’t know you had. Your mission was clear. Your goal was compelling. Your focus was laser-like. Your potential was tapped.The power of purpose is similar to the energy of light focused through a magnifying glass. Diffused light has little use, but when its energy is concentrated—as through a magnifying glass—that same light can set fire to paper. Focus its energy even more, as with a laser beam, and it has the power to cut through steel. Likewise, a clear sense of purpose enables you to focus your efforts on what matters most, compelling you to take risks and push forward regardless of the odds or obstacles.
Unlike animals, which are driven simply to survive, we humans crave more from life than mere survival. Without an answer to the question ‘Survival for the sake of what?,’ we can quickly fall into disillusionment, distraction and a quiet sense of despair. The alarming increase in rates of drug and alcohol abuse, depression and suicide, along with the growing reliance on antidepressant medications, seems to indicate many are doing just that. Likewise, a quick glance at employee engagement statistics points to a crisis of purpose and meaning on an unprecedented scale. Given we’re wealthier today than at any time in history, there is clearly a marked difference between ‘well off’ and ‘well-being.’
German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche once said, ‘He who has a why can endure any how.’ Knowing your why is an important first step in figuring out how to achieve the goals that excite you and create a life you enjoy living (versus merely surviving!). Indeed, only when you know your ‘why’ will you find the courage to take the risks needed to get ahead, stay motivated when the chips are down, and move your life onto an entirely new, more challenging, and more rewarding trajectory.
Certainly this has been the experience of Tom Hale, whose companyBACKROADS will top $100 million in revenue in 2014. “My passion for bringing active travel experiences to more people has driven me over the last 35 years.” In a recent interview, Tom shared with me that in the first seven years of starting BACKROADS, he put in enormous effort for little return. “Given the hours I worked, I think I was earning about 35 cents an hour,” he joked. “However, while I knew we had to make money to grow, I was never driven by the money. Once I got clear that this was my life’s work, doing something else was never an option.” Tom’s leadership of BACKROADS from a small start up to a major player in the travel industry has created an organization whose employees are as passionate about his company’s mission as him. BACKROADS’ on-going growth – in both the range of experiences offered and the company’s bottom line profit – speaks for itself.