Sunday, May 28, 2017

Finding Your Purpose, Mark Zuckerberg’s Commencement Speech

For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend watching Mark Zuckerberg’s commencement speech:

I love this speech- it is in equal parts funny, touching and full of relevant messages and takes, especially for our generation.

He touched upon the idea of finding purpose. It just so happens that this last week, I have been thinking about my purpose in life.

Have I found it yet? That’s a difficult one to answer. The answer also depends on the way you look at the question. But I’ll just say no, for now.

Am I doing things which will help me find it? … This is the more important one to answer.

But then again, is purpose this fixed entity? Like a golden key of some sort. That once you find it you hold on to it for the rest of your life, and keep pursuing it relentlessly. And that pursuit will lead to a life of fulfillment and the happiness that comes with it?

When Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook from his Harvard dorm room, his purpose was to connect the Harvard community. As Facebook grew, that evolved into connecting all colleges, and eventually the world. Today, Zuckerberg is driven to giving everyone a voice, and his traveling across the US to personally hear some of those voices.

Purpose keeps evolving. When I was in high school, I started a theatre club, which was, for me, one of the most meaningful experiences of high school. I was driven by my purpose to share my love and knowledge of theatre with other students in my school and get them excited about it. This last year, when I organized the first ever TEDx conference at my school, my purpose was to spread new ideas on campus, to inspire and intellectually stimulate the student community.

Based on the examples I gave, you might think that to fulfill your purpose you need to start something of your own- either a club, a company or a new initiative on campus. I used to believe this as well. I thought that unless I started my own company, I would never experience the fulfillment that comes with having a purpose and working for it. But that is not true at all, especially in today’s world.

While starting your own project or company is amazing and you should do it, not everyone can. You can find your purpose working for somebody else, or being a part of someone else’s project as well.
“If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.” I know we have all heard this quote. While I completely agree, there is a caveat here: Sometimes the other person has similar dreams as yours, and if they’re asking you to join them, maybe you should.

Last summer, I interned at this company and I was able to find my purpose there. When I accepted their offer, I had no idea what exactly the company did. But this was a good company, it was in NYC, the role was good, so I took it. When I started working, they did a good job of communicating the company’s vision and mission to us interns. And I was lucky in that the mission deeply resonated with me. I could very vividly see how my work would create a positive impact on the users of the product. That, more than anything else, is what motivated me to rise out of bed every morning and get to work.

As Mark Zuckerberg said,
‘Purpose is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness.’

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