HIM: What is your purpose on Planet Earth?
The conversation started with this qualifying question.
Me: “Pardon me, can you repeat? I didn’t catch it.”
Him: “Why do you exist? What’s your plan on Planet Earth?”
The CEO of a successful startup continued with this tone. And it completely took me off guard. I couldn’t process it was asking this. Not even used to frankly. Humbled, I went back with thoughts to my high school years. That’s where I had last rambled with this type of existential thoughts.
Me: “I believe I am here to leave an impact for future generations. Since I was at school reading through books of history, I always got fascinated by heroes of the past reading their bios and I used to tell myself that one day readers will find my name in Times New Roman in bold characters in Wikipedia pages — the modern version of books of history. I still didn’t have a clue in which domain I would leave the mark back then, but I intimately knew I had a mission to carry on Planet Earth — capital letter intended. And through experience, challenges, education, friends, I have nailed down my domain.”
While I am expecting to be asked what is my domain and not complacent with my answer, he replies: “Why does it matter to you to be in the book of history?”
Me: “We are ultimately human beings and transient to life — unless endless life is invented — and for me the opportunity to be remembered from young generations as good example, is unrivalled”
Him smirking: “ Do you have a worry maybe you won’t be remembered?”
Me: “ For sure! I still have to make my biggest accomplishment and I am just getting started. But I have limited time. My parents took big risks to provide a better life. Anything I’ve accomplished doesn’t compare so far”
Him in probing tone: “How would you feel if you haven’t done an impact?”
Me: “I will proudly look at the mirror with some more white hairs and tell to myself: Mate, at least you tried and poured your heart in trying to achieve your purpose”
Deep thinking. Big lesson learned. On multiple folds.
Silicon Valley leaders like to think that way. They aim to inspire and build a vision that steers not only employees but also mankind forward. They want to impact whole humanity. That’s a fact. And the type of self-questioning seen above is functional to their scope. As a manager you keep in execution mode, but leaders are one or two steps ahead, having to shape and empower the vision for the company. So it’s important to define this early on.
INSIGHT: Great questions aren’t asked every day. Unique questions even less. But when they occur, they get straight to your core, flood your thinking and challenge your reality. Ultimately you feel enriched.
Ok. Now I can disclose my purpose on Planet Earth which is to:
“Accelerate Entrepreneurship Globally through the use of technology”.
And what’s your purpose on Planet Earth?