• October 2013

Learning the 10 Principles of How You Can "Work on Purpose"

By Lara Galinsky
Senior Vice President
Echoing Green

Echoing Green’s Work on Purpose program helps young professionals identify their purpose and put it into action by creating a career with impact. The cornerstone of the Work on Purpose program is its innovative Work on Purpose curriculum and training, on which Echoing Green trains faculty and staff at colleges, universities, and nonprofits around the country.

The curriculum is based on 10 core principles designed to guide anyone who wants a high-impact social change career. Over the past 25 years, Echoing Green has performed hundreds of in-depth interviews with our world-changing social entrepreneurship Fellows, uncovering the common experiences that led them to meaningful, high-impact work.

The Work on Purpose program then compared our Fellows’ experiences to scholarship from the world’s top research institutions—from Stanford to Yale to the University of Pennsylvania. From these sources, we pulled together this list of 10 principles.

These principles are divided into three categories:

  • Right for You: Principles in this category illustrate ways in which participants can identify their personal purposes. They encourage participants to reflect on what choices will bring them fulfillment.
  • Good for the World: Principles in this category illustrate ways in which participants can identify their public purposes. They encourage participants to explore the impact their work will have on the world and identify the social and environmental issues that move them most.
  • Be Bold: Principles in this category illustrate ways in which participants can develop the strength and drive to take action in order to pursue their personal and public purposes. They encourage participants to develop the boldness and the spirit of risk-taking that will launch them down their purpose paths.

Right for You

1. Heart + Head = Hustle: Find ways to work from both your heart and your head, collapsing the divisions between these two aspects of yourself in your work as often as possible. It is the only way to achieve what we call “hustle.”

2. Know What You’ve Got—Know What You Need: Uncover your unique contribution(s) to the world. In the meantime, either develop the skills, strengths, contacts, experiences, insights, or education you still need, or prop yourself up by surrounding yourself with people whose gifts complement your own.

3. Mine Your Past: Reflect on your history in order to understand what motivates you, both positively and negatively. This reflection will help you create a career that is connected to your core.

Good for the World

4. ________ Is What Matters: Fill in the blank. Figure out what social problem(s) matter to you, and prioritize addressing them. (After all, saying “yes” to what really matters to you almost always means saying “no” to other things.)

5. Act on Moments of Obligation: Identify and seize the moments in which you have been, and continue to be, moved to take responsibility for helping solve one of the world’s biggest problems. Then turn that feeling into concrete action.

6. Take Perspective … Someone Else’s: Cultivate a deep curiosity about the world, and actively seek to understand other populations, perspectives, models, and disciplines. Interdisciplinarianism is critical to innovative thinking, as it allows you to see connections and patterns where those who stay within a silo cannot; and understanding perspectives of those affected by social problems is essential for high-impact, culturally competent work.

Be Bold

7. Bold Immersion: Become an expert in the work you are most drawn to. Get to know all of the relevant people, organizations, research, books, and articles. Surround yourself with those who are as excited to understand the field as you are. Study, volunteer, immerse yourself!

8. Fear Means Go: Distinguish between healthy fears and the kind of barrier fears that stem from your insecurities. Your barrier fears are signals that you need to GO … not away from what scares you, but toward it.

9. Gall to Think Big: Give yourself permission to try out smart, untested tactics, models, and ideas, even if you aren’t 100 percent certain you’ll succeed. After all, failure is one of life’s greatest learning tools and can be proof that you are thinking big. (In fact, if you haven’t failed in a while, ask yourself if you need to take on bolder challenges!)

10. Think Like an Entrepreneur: Move through your life and your career with an entrepreneurial spirit, and apply the focus, energy, and positivity to founding your social impact career that you would apply to founding a new business or organization.

If you’re interested in learning more, request a call with Echoing Green’s Work on Purpose team.

Learn more at Echoing Green.

About Lara Galinsky

An author, speaker, and expert on working on purpose, Lara Galinsky is the senior vice president of Echoing Green, a groundbreaking nonprofit organization with the mission to unleash next generation talent to solve the world’s biggest problems.

She speaks and leads workshops at colleges, universities, corporations, and nonprofits around the world. She began her career at Do Something, where she became a national program director. After five years there, Galinsky moved to Echoing Green, where she launched Work on Purpose, which inspires and equips the Millennial generation to build lives and careers that are both right for them and good for the world. She is the co-author of two books that have become cornerstones of the program: “Work on Purpose” (2011) and “Be Bold: Create a Career with Impact” (2007).

Galinsky sits on the advisory boards of the Lewis Institute at Babson College and the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Wesleyan University. She received her Masters in Communications with honors from Columbia University and her Bachelors from Wesleyan University, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She is a graduate of the Institute for Not-for-Profit Management Leadership Development Program at Columbia University, the Public Policy Institute at Georgetown, and was selected for CORO Leadership New York.