Last year, thought I hate to admit it, my business started to bore me.
Aside from family members and a friend or two who might remember a distant and ill-advised puka shell necklace phase, I have never been interested in jewelry or self-adornment in general – never pierced an ear or gotten tattooed, my hair is cropped short and left product-free, I find the idea of the necktie utterly baffling, and I don’t wear jewelry. So it would seem an unfortunate decision for me to start a paper-bead-jewelry company. But that’s what I did.
When it first began the business had two qualities that excited me: the potential to improve livelihoods in Uganda and the adrenaline pump of starting my first business. But that adrenaline pump gets lazy with time, and life-change turns out to be a rather long-term proposition whose moments of dazzling inspiration are generously spaced.
I was losing interest in my own company.
Then, near the beginning of this year I had a sort of personal revelation: I realized that creating and pursuing Good Dreams is instrumental to my happiness and satisfaction, and perhaps to human satisfaction in general.
I started pursuing this principle through my business. I asked our Ugandan partners what their dreams were and told them I was committed to supporting them. I shared this idea with my team in San Diego and we created a “Dream Wall” to share our dreams with each other and a “Dream Fund” to seed our pursuit of them.
For 2012, we’re designing this idea into our products, our story-telling, our website, everything that we can get our hands on.
And the upshot of it is, my business is inspiring me again.
It’s easy to take your work at face value, to accept it as bland and uninspiring, and to pursue your passions elsewhere. But I found that by taking the biggest, most magnetic idea I could find, and pursuing it in and through my work, I’ve been able to change my business for the better, making it more inspiring and energizing for customers, employees, and for myself.
And you don’t have to own the company to make your work more inspiring. If you bring your biggest ideas and best dreams to your job and pursue them through your work, you will transform your corner of the company, and maybe the whole thing.