I am oftentimes asked, “Why did you start your business?” As simple as that question is, the answer is much more complex. My professional career, and frankly my life, has taken so many twists and turns that ultimately prepared me for the journey that I am now on. When we reflect back, it’s always the way we choose to respond to the events in our lives that determine where we are today. Sometimes, even the simplest of decisions can dramatically impact our life’s direction.
So, how’d we end up here? Given my circumstances early in life, I had one goal, one mission; and that was to not be poor. Like many things in life however, when a pendulum swings, it often swings too far in the other direction. In my efforts to escape the uncertainty and pain of poverty and homelessness, I shamefully chased the only thing I knew to be the opposite of that…Money. As I chased what I thought would be happiness, I also met and fell in love with Money’s cousin, Status.
Money and Status are like drugs. They promise to fill this gap in our soul; however it always ends up becoming a bucket that no matter how much you put in it, it never seems to get full. I guess another way to put it is, it’s like swimming after a beach ball in a pool. The harder and faster you swim after it, the further away it seems to get.
I was once told that you either get on your knees, or God will put you there. To put it another way, seek humility or it will be delivered upon you. That was the position I found myself in about 10 years into my professional career. It was through this process of refinement that I learned the true meaning of fulfillment.
See, fulfillment isn’t about the balance in your bank account or the status you hold amongst your peers. Fulfillment is about making your life count. It’s about being a good steward of the talents and abilities you were given. I learned it takes the same amount of effort to play small and make a small impact as it does to play all out and leave this world a better place than how we found it.
There were so many people that helped me get back on my feet time and again through the years, and as I reflect on the impact they made in my life, I can’t help but wonder if they know how much of an impact the simple acts of kindness they showed me will ultimately have on the world.
They offered me their couch and a warm meal. A pretty simple thing to do but what they really did was plant a seed. A seed that has been watered through the circumstances of my life. It was their selfless acts of kindness that have inspired me to move beyond my own selfish desires and strive to make a difference in the world. You can easily count the seeds in an apple, but I challenge anyone to count the apples in a seed.
I can’t think of a better way to pay forward those acts of kindness than to do so using my business to plant seeds of hope in others. I think you guys like to call this “Corporate Social Responsibility.”