Creating a World of Difference

 
(Excerpt)
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Start Creating a World of Difference:
Take a close look at the business you’re in. Look for the real
purpose in what you do. Look for ways you already create
a world of difference. Do more of those things.

Chapter One

Rebuild the Connection

Life is a series of turning points – moments when something clicks inside us and things fall into place in ways we never expected and from that moment on, nothing is the same.

One of my turning points came a few years ago on a Sunday night when I sat in front of the TV, crying.

I feel a little silly admitting it, but this wasn’t that unusual at the time. In fact, most Sunday nights you could have found me crying in front of that TV, watching, of all things, a reality show. It was one of those reality shows where a family was going through some extreme hardship like a natural disaster or a life-threatening illness. The point of the show was to interrupt that downward spiral and give that family’s living space a makeover.

The family in question received a new-and-improved house, both the interior and the exterior. The people receiving the makeover always cried. I always swore to myself, “This time, I’m not going to cry.”

Every time, I cried.

This particular night, I thought, What is wrong with you? This is pathetic, crying over some TV show. Is your life that empty and meaningless?

I’ve got to do something, I told myself. Maybe my life needs a makeover.

 

Soul-searching

The irony, of course, is that my life and my home certainly didn’t seem to need a makeover. I had everything – a successful business, a loving family, a handsome and loving husband, my dream home on the lake. How much better could it get? I had everything anybody could possible want.

Didn’t I?

On that night, watching myself cry – again – I knew in my gut that something just wasn’t right.

When my gut speaks, I listen. I learned that a long time ago, first from my father and later from the hard knocks of life itself. So I sat there on my sofa, clicked off the TV and promised myself that whatever was missing in my life, I was going to figure it out. And then I was going to change it.

That Sunday night changed not only my life. It also changed the direction of my business.

With a little bit of soul-searching, I pretty quickly realized that my life felt shallow to me. It wasn’t filling me up. All I did, I told myself, was run a business. Sure, we were in the staffing business and we helped people find jobs. But it was still just…business. Making money. Selling a service. I wanted something more. I wanted to do something meaningful with my life.

I wanted to create a difference in the world.

No, it was more than that – I wanted to create a world of difference.

When the idea came to me, I felt a shiver. The tense, unpleasant feeling in my gut was gone.

 

Being intentional

I looked around at my wonderful life and started to worry that I was going to have to give it all up in order to do something with my life that had real value.

As it turned out, I didn’t have to give up anything in order to put more meaning into my life. All I had to do was become more intentional about helping people in the ways that came naturally to me.

People who know me well would probably tell you I was born to be a people person. Like my father, I’m outgoing and positive. So sales fit me like a glove from the very beginning. Like my maternal grandmother, I’m a “fixer” – whenever someone in the family was sick, GanGaw showed up and cooked and cleaned and made sure life flowed easily until things returned to normal. I still have dreams in which my grandmother shows up to clean out my refrigerator.

I’m not big on cleaning out the fridge. But through my staffing companies I’ve had the chance to help a lot of people “fix” their lives by matching them with the right job, a job that would get their lives on track.

During the days when I cried over the people whose homes were getting a makeover, I had lost my connection to the real purpose of what I was doing.

Like a lot of business owners and leaders, I had let myself get into the rut of thinking it was about opening new satellite offices or the size of the contracts or whether our use of technology was one step ahead of the competition. Of course my life felt empty and a little meaningless.

After that night on the sofa, my husband, Mike, and I began to rededicate ourselves to the deeper purpose of our business. We began to recognize the real opportunity that comes with being successful business owners. We saw that we weren’t just making money and selling a service. We weren’t even just helping people find jobs. We were creating opportunities for people to have better lives. We were helping them fulfill dreams or dream bigger dreams. We were helping people take better care of their families and become contributing members of society. We were helping our client companies improve the economic circumstances of their communities.

We started telling our employees that we were in the people business. We started a foundation so we could funnel a portion of our proceeds into making life even better for associates and communities.

Through that foundation, we can help associates when a natural disaster or medical crisis stretches family resources to the breaking point. We can provide funds for training associates who want to prepare themselves for advanced opportunities. We can provide funds for organizations that our clients want to support in their communities.

When we became more intentional about living out the purpose of our business, we were making life better for others. We were doing something meaningful. Every time we filled a job, we were touching lives and creating a world of difference.