How to Find the Secret to Meaningful Work

Arthur Brooks and Jenn Lim, the CEO of Delivering Happiness, analyze the barriers to feeling that your work serves a higher purpose.

Man working on laptop
Eugenio Marongiu / Getty / The Atlantic

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The road to purposeful work is paved with good intentions, but for many, happiness at work can feel like a hopeless cause. What if the secret to happiness at work has less to do with our extrinsic motivations (money, rewards, and personal gain) and more to do with intrinsic motivations—the meaningful relationships we build, and the ability to be in service to people who need it?

In this episode of How to Build a Happy Life, we’ll explore workplace practices to live out purpose-driven principles. We’ll also talk about why authenticity is vital to strong leadership and “walking the talk,” and how to factor emotional needs into our workplaces. A conversation with the chief happiness officer and CEO of Delivering Happiness, Jenn Lim, helps us tackle one big question at work: Why do I do this every day?


This episode was produced by Rebecca Rashid and hosted by Arthur Brooks. Editing by A.C. Valdez. Fact-check by Ena Alvarado. Sound design by Michael Raphael.

Be part of How to Build a Happy Life. Write to us at howtopodcast@theatlantic.com or leave us a voicemail at 925.967.2091.

Music by Trevor Kowalski (“Lion’s Drift,” “This Valley of Ours,” “Una Noche de Luces”), Stationary Sign (“Loose in the Park”), and Spectacles Wallet and Watch (“Last Pieces”).


This transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Arthur C. Brooks: People like to complain about their jobs, and there’s a lot in popular culture about people having terrible bosses, but it’s amazing to me when I look at the data on work satisfaction and how it’s actually gone up over the last few years.

As I’ve written about in my column in The Atlantic, Gallup asks a sample of American adults kind of a loaded question: How much do you like your job? The portion of Americans who say they are completely satisfied at work has risen dramatically over the past two decades, from 41 percent in 2001 to 55 percent in 2019.

And in 2020, despite the fact that millions of Americans had shifted to remote work, still, 89 percent said that they were either completely or somewhat satisfied. That’s great news. But there’s bad news too. For better or for worse, people spend their time and most of their mental energy at work. Now, let’s think about what we’ve tackled on this show so far. We’ve talked about emotional management and mindfulness with Dan Harris—managing your emotions so they don’t manage you. We’ve talked about the importance of relationships and friendships and reorganizing our priorities to ensure that we live a people-centric life, with Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general. We’ve talked about avoiding self-objectification or the idea that you are your job or you are a particular role in life. We talked about that with Dr. Shefali. But what about the thing that most often distracts us from all these projects? Work!

Jenn Lim is the CEO and chief happiness officer of Delivering Happiness, a company redesigning workplace organization around positive psychology. Jenn’s mission is to embed happiness and humanity in all workplaces, from the individual to the institutional level. Delivering happiness applies science-based happiness research to help companies improve their corporate strategy and their company culture, which all begins with individuals showing up to work with their most authentic selves. Jenn co-founded Delivering Happiness with the late Tony Hsieh, who also was the famous entrepreneur behind Zappos, and who wrote the book called Delivering Happiness, which was a huge best seller. Tony passed away in 2020, sadly, and this was a tragedy for a lot of people, including Jenn, but he continues to be an inspiration to her and many people around the world.

Jenn Lim: We’re focused on workplace happiness and what scientific happiness means, using that research and academics around all that body of work of positive psychology. How do you make it practical and tactical in the workplace?

It’s not just the inspirational stuff—that’s important, but that’s short-lived, and that’s kind of like a rah-rah keynote or workshop. But we’re all about systemic change and making sure that we embed these kinds of practices behaviorally so that companies can actually not just be “happier” from a sustainable basis, but also realize the results from an ROI perspective. So in terms of retention, attraction of the right people and especially right now, as we see the great resignation, it just seems like more than ever, it’s important to have these things embedded in how we actually grow companies for the long term. So it’s been pretty cool to see how this whole, you know, lofty rainbows-and-unicorns happiness thing has actually landed in a universal way.

Brooks: Congratulations. So the question, before we talk about the results that can actually come from this, is what do you mean by systemic change with happiness? What does that actually look like?

Lim: So the systemic stuff comes in the very non-sexy, very nonglamorous side of org design. Basically, how do you design the organization in a way that these kinds of things are not just nice words on the wall, like, Oh, this is our purpose, and oh, these are values, but actually embedded into how we recognize people, how we reward them, how we incentivize them—to the point of hiring and firing based on it. So that even if they’re a rock-star kind of performer in whatever they do, if they’re actually not living up to those values of what they believe in, then it doesn’t become systemic.

Brooks: So without divulging any confidentiality, obviously, give me an example of going into a company finding something that’s a real barrier to the happiness of the company and therefore the performance of the company, quite frankly. And some changes systemically that you’ve made that’s resulted in greater happiness of the employees and the executives. And then the kind of results that you’d see.

Lim: My freshest example is Starbucks. So we were there for years and then it was like we were about to go into this huge project that they’ve never really done before, because Howard Schultz—the leader—he’s super iconic. To his credit, he did a lot of stuff just bringing that whole culture, Italian culture, coffee culture into American society. And then his leaving and having a new leadership team, new CEO, they are like, How do we exist for another 50 years? So we’re about to embark on this whole vision project. What is Starbucks today? How do we make them more current? I don’t know—can I cuss on this or is this not really that?

Brooks: You can say anything you want!

Lim: You know, when the pandemic shit hit the fan, as we know, like when shit hits the fan for an individual, the true character of that person shows, and I believe that of companies as well. So basically, they’re triaging at the same time as saying, Wait, who are we and what do we stand for? And this was most interesting to me because, you know, here’s a company that’s been known for their brand and known for being purpose-driven for so long, and rightfully so.

It was really eye-opening to see how people, when they are actually led by that statement of that purpose and that mission, how they all can just leave all the other baggage behind, all the politics behind, and say, actually, yes, this is what we’re here for. I think everyone around that time, and even more so, you know, as time goes on in this next phase of COVID, are just asking those questions, like, Why am I waking up again and going to this job? Or, you know, Why am I spending every minute of this day, you know, towards this activity or role or event?

In addition to triaging, what they did for their people and customers and especially their partners—what they call their employees—they launched this whole other program of what their next 50 years will be, which is not just profit-positive, and they’ve been doing amazingly well in that space, but it’s also people-positive and planet-positive. So they basically put themselves on the line to say, Hey, we’re going to be accountable for this. I think it’s a big lesson learned, to see what can happen when big shifts happen in the world.

Brooks: What are the values of an organization most correlated with happiness?

Lim: The way we go about it is that we’re not here to twist people’s arms and say, Hey, you got to be happy now, like, look what you have. Be grateful, and do your gratitude journal and, you know, all those things. That’s not how it works.

So we call them levers—little handles that we have of what we can do to increase our happiness. And that’s a sense of autonomy, control, call it freedom, a sense of progress.

Am I learning? Am I growing? Do I have a growth mindset? Do I feel like I am developing in any and all ways of life, not just work? Connection. And this one’s a big one. And it’s not just about connectedness anymore, but you know, belonging is kind of this buzzword that’s going on now with what that means and having a sense of not just being invited to the dance or being allowed to dance, but just being able to dance however you want and being accepted for that, and then actually having a turn at [being] the DJ.


Brooks: Okay, back to Jenn Lim in a second. But right now, let’s talk a little bit about business plans.

By that I don’t mean business plans for actual businesses; I mean plans for the business of your life. When you’re going to work, when you’re taking your whole self to work, when you’re trying to be a happier person in your work, you need something like a little business plan for your life.

A business plan, it has the answer to four basic questions: What am I doing? Who am I doing it for? How am I doing it? And most importantly, why am I doing it? Why am I doing this thing? Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, How do I find that “why”? That’s the hardest question, isn’t it?

Well, good news. There’s somebody who’s thought an awful lot about that that can help. His name is Simon Sinek. You may have heard of him because he wrote a best-selling book called Start With Why. That’s about how you can find your why. I sat down with Simon, and he gave me some great ideas on how each one of us can do it.

Simon Sinek: I’ve never defined myself by what I do. I define myself by why I do it. Start With Why is something I live every day of my life and have since I first articulated the concept. “Why” is this deep-seated purpose, cause, or belief. It’s the sum total of how we were raised and the lessons we learned as kids that made us who we are. It’s sort of the core of our personality. It is unchangeable and fully formed by the time we’re probably in our mid-to-late teens. In other words, you are who you are.

And understanding the deep core of what inspires you and makes you who you are is the value you provide to the world as well. It’s the reason your friends love you. It’s the reason your colleagues trust you. It’s the reason clients are drawn to you. It’s being your true self in how you show up in the world and in your work, and it feels really good.

What the process is of uncovering one’s why is to go through a rational process. So we identify stories and experiences from your life in which we can discern patterns, and that pattern is the why. And then the opportunity is to do it on purpose, to live with purpose on purpose, as opposed to what most of us do, which is to live with purpose by accident.

The reason most people struggle with it is because they start with the question “What do I want to be” or “What do I want to do?” It’s not that it doesn’t exist. It’s like love, right? It’s hard to put into words our feelings for another person, so we use metaphors and analogies. Human brains have an easier time talking about stuff and things because they’re easier to see and understand than the ethereal.

Brooks: Simon Sinek makes a really important point, which is that it sounds easy to come up with your why, but it’s really hard. You know when you see it, but you can’t really describe it. It’s an interesting problem, isn’t it?

So I decided that the best way for me to be able to really put my finger on it so that I could pursue my why most effectively, I was going to stop trying to say it, and I was just going to try to—I was going to walk it into existence. In the middle of 2019, when I left my job at the end of June, I got on a plane and I went to Spain. I was going to walk the Camino de Santiago, which is a walk across northern Spain.

It’s a pilgrimage that people make, basically because they want to find the why of their life, either for religious or nonreligious reasons, when they want to walk the why into their lives. And that’s exactly what I did day after day, hour after hour asking for my why. And when I finished, weirdly, I knew it had gone from my feet into my brain, and then it was on my tongue. The why of my life is to lift people up and bring them together. It worked for me, and it can work for you too. But you’ve got to do the work.


Lim: Going back to that sense of purpose, we could talk about all this all we want from an organizational standpoint, but unless we, as individuals, can actually ground ourselves in our own purpose and our own values and define it for ourselves first, whenever I step into that work, you know, hat on, is it really the same hat that I’m wearing in my life? And what’s most meaningful to me?

There is a reason why people are quitting their jobs. Most of them without even knowing where their next step is going to be. And so I think the most important part of being our individual self, whether we’re a CEO or a frontliner, is really getting real with that and revisiting those kinds of concepts of, like, how am I going to lead people? And even if I’m not a CEO, how am I going to be a leader of myself at work and in life?

Brooks: So there’s two big points that I want our listeners to pay attention to that Jen has just raised; they’re super important, really, really profound points. No. 1 is that the happiness values, the happiness levers that are the difference between a company that’s bringing happiness and is not—they’re all about people.

They’re all about the values that are going to serve the people—actualize people inside the organization—being autonomy, progress, and connection, of having work, be an affirming force in your life. In other words, work should be something that brings happiness to your life as opposed to unhappiness in your life. And the two characteristics to work that will bring happiness to your life are earning your success, which is accomplishment, autonomy, progress, and a sense that you’re serving other people. Okay, that’s the first big thing. The values of a company that are going to bring happiness and create more success for the company are all about values that you bring for the people in your world. Let’s call that Jenn’s truth No. 1.

Jenn’s truth No. 2 for leaders is to put your own oxygen mask on first. People ask me all the time, “You know, you teach happiness at Harvard, and you write about it in The Atlantic and all that. You must be the happiest guy in the world.” It’s like, what are you talking about? If I’m the happiest guy in the world, I wouldn’t be writing about it. I’m looking for it; it’s me-search! The effort of trying to get my oxygen mask on is actually delivering it to others. This is the point, and this is what you’re actually trying to bring to leaders. Isn’t that right, Jenn?

Lim: Totally spot on. I get all geeked out on this stuff, like, when it all kind of boils down to this. Like, how do we actually bring that into a practical way of living life? One of the things that I thought was really interesting during the research of the book was I didn’t know that Maslow actually added another pyramid level on top of self-actualization. And so basically before he passed away, he realized that it’s not actually self-actualization at the top, it’s actually transcendence. Transcendence is when you’re actually providing and helping others self-actualize too.

Brooks: A quick side note to our listeners here. Jenn is talking about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which is a kind of a famous model based on the work of the social psychologist Abraham Maslow from the 1940s. He believed that the basest needs that we have are for food, shelter, and security, and if we get those, then we move on to higher needs, like love and companionship. But at the very top, if we can get through all those other things, we get to these higher-higher-higher-order needs, like self-actualization, and as Jenn just told us, at the very highest level, transcendence.

So give us some worst practices; what are the toxic companies; what are the ones that have one foot on a banana peel and the other one in the grave? What do they look like with respect to their workplace-happiness practices?

Lim: I’m going to caveat this because behind every tainted brand, there are really good people in it, because sometimes we kind of cast brands as like, “Oh, everyone in there must be like—why would they choose to work there?”

So what first comes to mind, and this is different now because there’s a new CEO, but Uber has to come to mind of what was probably a poster child of toxic culture. I’m not trying to throw Travis under the bus, because I know him, and I’ve seen him grow over the years. I would say that their culture was already not established or grounded in values or a purpose other than what they were seeking at that time.

Brooks: By the way, for those who weren’t following, Uber’s founder and CEO Travis Kalanick ran the company and ran into problems having to do with workplace culture. So what did you see? I mean, people talk about bro culture in Silicon Valley. They talk about excessively long work hours, the inability to get any sort of work-life balance. People talk about the fact that they were never really appreciated, never really noticed; other people would steal and take credit for their work—not necessarily at Uber, but at many companies that are noted to have toxic cultures. You, as a happiness expert in the corporate context, what are you going to look out for?

Lim: There are leaders that I’ve met along the way and worked with, actually, that are just trying to check off a box. And they’re saying, “Oh, this is important now. Oh, we need to actually prioritize people and actually make it known that we want to focus on culture. So let’s invest in that and say we got it—done!”

And so, No. 1 is being able to hold up the mirror and truly reflect on what it is that you’re doing that is not just self-actualization in your own right, but helping other people. And depending how you answer that, then that will answer that question of, like, what are the indicators of a toxic culture? No. 1, are people walking the talk? Are people being consistent in living up to what you believe your values to be? And it’s not just values, either. It’s actually defining specific behaviors.

Another poster child of what went wrong: Enron, one of their top values was integrity. We all know where that went. So it’s kind of like, Well, how do you define integrity? It’s like, Oh, well, I’m just going to squander all this money for myself. This is where the systemic change makes me the geek about how to embed this stuff.

So being able to look at whether or not people are actually living according to what you think your values are and how you define them and how you define your behaviors by them. That’s, I think, the biggest indicator of whether or not you’re going in the right direction. And one of our metrics is it’s not just, you know, retention or attraction, but it’s also “How happy are people?”

And now, more than ever, it’s not just the rainbows and unicorns, like, you know, happy hours and raises—the extrinsic stuff, as you know—it’s the intrinsic stuff. And being able to have those honest and open conversations that bring up tensions and bring up the state of where we are mentally or emotionally. You know, all these factors that were taboo not, you know, just even 10 years ago, but now it’s just like, Hey, we have to talk about this stuff.

Brooks: When I am talking to an executive, you’re telling me, if I’m going to go in, I’m gonna coach an executive and that executive is like, “Yeah, yeah, I want a culture in which people can live up to their transcendental values. And they have friends here, and they have time off for their family, and they understand that their work is the place where they can be realized and serve others. But I’m, really, personally about money, power, pleasure, and fame.” You’re like, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, red lights on the dashboard. That inconsistency, per se, will be perceived immediately, and no matter what you say, it simply will not work. Is that a true statement?

Lim: It could work for a lot of short-term gain. It won’t work for the long-term gain. And it won’t work when the future of work is basically, well … we’re living it now. We didn’t know until the pandemic, social unrest, and global recession came, Oh, we’re actually living it now.

So what does that mean? Well, we have to adapt as companies, as people. And if companies don’t adapt, they’re not going to be around. And then all of a sudden it becomes, unfortunately, this sort of survival mentality and this sort of scarcity mentality. And at the end of the day, if we are comfortable living that kind of life and having those kinds of priorities where it was extrinsic—of the money, title, status, and grow, grow, grow, buy, buy, buy, then that’s up to us for us to live and die by. But I think there’s been a huge reckoning of leaders that are more vulnerable and not as fearful of going down deep into, you know, whatever happened, those traumas that happened in childhood or, you know, upbringing and et cetera, et cetera. That’s when it gets real.

Brooks: In the time that we have left, I want to talk about your new book, and it’s got a pretty interesting title: Beyond Happiness. Jenn, is there something beyond happiness? You’re killing me.

Lim: Coming from you, Arthur, that’s kind of a big question. Like, really? You don’t think so?

Brooks: But what we’re doing, of course, is that we gotta define happiness now and then we have to say what’s more important than happiness, so to take us there.

Lim: So my history background is, like, Delivering Happiness, launched with Tony, running the company, and it was going well. I mean, the concepts that are born out of the scientific levers of happiness and all that, it works. But in the last several years, it just started feeling like there’s something more here that I’m missing. And so I started, you know, petri-dishing on myself and just kind of doing my social-scientist thing and with clients and just being real, like, Wait, there’s something else here.

So one of our models is me, we, community. It starts with the me in the middle. Then it kind of ripples to the we and then to the community, which is our customers, partners and vendors and ecosystem. So what I realized is that unless we start with the me first, then the other stuff can’t really actually fully, you know, get to the potential.

Then 2020 happened. And all of a sudden, these hypotheses and things that we were working with CEOs that were checking off the box and then realized, You know what? Holy shit, this was about me. And then they realized, Oh, this is what we’re going to do. We’re not going to do this just for the company. We’re going to do this for our community. We’re going to do this for our country. We need to be real with ourselves. So that was the light bulb of what’s beyond it. Because, I think, from a societal level, we have automatic connotations of what we think happiness to be. But then unless we dig a little deeper and realize that we learn as much of ourselves from our highs and our lows.

The buildup of all these events of 2020 and then the passing of Tony in November, then I just, you know, as I was processing his passing and as I was processing what I wanted to really try and capture, it had to be something beyond. And you can look at it in very different ways. And I guess I’m making it ambiguous purposefully because there is a spiritual element here of what truly is beyond. And then there’s the practical, you know, “here we are” level in life—of what can we create and understand and be real with? Celebrating our highs and and also really getting real with our lows.

Brooks: Hmm. This book is, you know—going from delivering happiness to beyond happiness is kind of the move from self-actualization to transcendence in Jenn Lim’s life, it sounds like to me. A person fully alive is a person who is really living everything, and that’s the essence of transcendence. This is a book that digs into your own personal journey to be fully alive, isn’t it?

Lim: It is, yeah. And I think people might be surprised when they actually read it. They’re like, Wait, I thought, this was about happiness. The “beyond” part is like, there’s something more to that and [by] digging deep into that within ourselves—freaking sucked that it had to happen in that way with what happened with Tony in 2020 of all those things—but now I feel that this is squarely where I was trying to get to. As you’re describing it, living fully. We’re all going to have freaking crappy days, but we’re all gonna have those days, and how are we going to be more human about it? And being able to say, you know, just be gentle with ourselves, say what’s going on, like, it’s okay; just emote. Or just asking your co-worker, Hey, you all right?

Brooks: I think that you are saying something that’s even deeper than it’s okay if it’s not all right. I think that you’re saying it’s actually part of the deal, and it’s a good thing because [otherwise] you’re not getting a full experience; you’re getting the two-dimensional version; you’re getting the cardboard cutout, the cartoon.

If we’re really staying on the positive, we’re not staying on the fully alive part. And it’s hard, you know, holding bad feelings close to you. I can only imagine when you went through. You were very close to Tony.

Lim: The lowest moment of my life before Tony passed was when my dad passed 18 years ago, and this was before Delivering Happiness was born. But that was a moment where I got laid off; 9/11, you know; my dad got cancer; all those things. And that really put me to this place where what you’re speaking of, it’s that fullness and wholeness, and it has taken all these years—I would say just up until, like, four or five years ago—to realize that. I started reading more about grief and and the beauty of grief, and being able to understand that. And the more I read about it, the more I tapped into that side of acceptance and sitting with it. But until you experience it, feel it, and actually understand how that works within our life and our emotions and our psyche and our spirit—that’s a whole other thing.

Brooks: You’re talking about the sacredness of suffering, which of course, is as ancient as any wisdom, tradition, and any serious religion that has ever existed.

Lim: Part of this book is to get us back to that place. There’s so many things of ancient religions, our sense of rituals that are lost. There was a place and reason why we have funerals. There’s a place and reason why there’s, for some cultures, there’s the mourning period for an extended period of time; it’s not just a funeral service.

And I think that, okay, let’s update that now and actually be able to speak about this, especially with all the loss that we felt—I’m not talking for me; everyone in the world felt—and make this not something that we want to shy away from or don’t want to face when that day comes for us, but actually embrace it in a way that that’s how we live fuller lives.

Brooks: What a wonderful integration of delivering happiness and going beyond to the essence of being fully alive; what a gift you’ve given us. Thank you, Jenn.

Lim: Thank you, Arthur. Thank you for all those great questions too.


Brooks: As a happiness researcher, people are always my subject of choice. We put out a call to action for our listeners to answer this question: When is the last time you remember being truly happy?

Listener submission: Hello, this is brother Joe Trout. I’m coming to you from Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois, just outside Chicago. Actually, just last night, I was pondering this question of feeling really happy. I had worked an incredibly long day. I’m a high-school morality teacher, and then a cross-country coach, and part of a religious community.

So I got up for prayer at 6:30, was off to school, worked an 11-hour day and then came back home for prayer and community time and then spent another two hours doing research for my classes. By the end of it, I was dead tired, and out of nowhere just had this overwhelming sense of how wonderful it was, how great it was that I got to do something meaningful all day. You know, a lot of people think of trying to teach morality to teenagers as some horrible job, that they just want to do whatever they want. But it’s not true at all.

They’re deeply invested in the question of how to live a rich, meaningful life. It’s exhausting at times, but it’s fun. You know, teachers, we don’t see the fruit of our work all the time. We often are left hoping, but I just, at a certain level, don't really care; I enjoy it and I see what they’re doing now, and I hope they’ll turn out well. I don’t—I don’t know what more I could ask for.


Brooks: Today’s exercise is called turning your job into your mission. Now, it sounds pretty bold, doesn’t it? There’s the old story about somebody who’s walking down the street, and he sees somebody who’s putting one brick on top of another. And he asks him, “So what are you doing?” He said, “Well, obviously, I’m just laying bricks.”

There’s the guy next to him doing the same thing. So he says to him, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m building a wall.”

There’s a third guy doing the same thing, and he says, “What are you doing?” And he said, “I’m building a cathedral.” So what’s your answer? Are you laying bricks? Or are you building a cathedral? If you want your job to be a mission, you need to do two things.

And this is where the exercise comes in. The two things that take a job and make it into a mission, that make it truly meaningful—now and going forward into the future—are earning your success and serving others.

I’m going to talk about how you do each one. Earning your success is the opposite of what the great social psychologist Martin Seligman calls learning your helplessness. In his research, he’s found that learned helplessness occurs when people feel like they don’t have any control—that no matter what they do doesn’t really affect the outcomes. It’s actually really clear in the research that it’s correlated with depression and anxiety.

The opposite of learned helplessness—where you just feel helpless, you’re not going to do anything, you’re not going to put any special effort forward, you’re certainly not going to like what you’re doing—the opposite is earned success, where you’re creating value with your work. To do that, you need a feeling of accomplishment and a path forward. So ask yourself this in your work: What am I doing? What am I accomplishing, and what is my path forward?

Now, I realize that this can be hard to do, depending on your job. For example, let’s just say you’re an insurance agent. It’s easy to be thinking, Well, I’m trying to sell people insurance, and they don’t necessarily want it. I feel like I’m trying to get people to eat their brussels sprouts because it’s a responsible thing to do. I guess that’s helping them. But on a lot of days, you probably feel like you’re an annoyance.

Well, let’s think a little bit deeper. I’ve done a lot of research on that very industry. Insurance is truly a happiness engine for people because it takes uncertainty and takes fear out of people’s lives. Go forward every single day saying, “I’m going to remove fear from somebody’s life today, so that that person can feel free to earn their success and so that they can, without fear, serve other people.” That’s a beautiful thing to do. And you can do that. And you can find that kind of link in any job that you have. That’s honest and that, in fact, is serving your values.

If you think [about] where what you’re doing is leading you and how it’s creating value and how the value you’re going to create is going to build on the value you’re currently creating, you’ll be building a cathedral. That’s earning your success. Write it down. Make a plan. See what it looks like over the next 10 or 15 years.

Your job can’t be about you primarily. Not even that often. You need to serve other people. Think to yourself, Who am I serving? I know it can be circuitous. I know it can be hard. I know it can be hard to imagine who it might possibly be. And on some days, it’s really, really frustrating.

But in some way, shape, or form, something that you’re doing should be able in your mind to get to somebody who needs you, somebody with less power than you, somebody who will benefit, maybe benefit greatly from your work. Think of that person. Dedicate your work to that person, and watch your satisfaction grow.