What if I had that feeling at work that I had in high school


I went to St. Mary’s High School. I have a St. Mary’s sweatshirt I still wear even though the school closed after my kids went there. I remember feeling passionate about being a St. Mary’s Trojan. That was a pretty potent feeling. So much so that I still wear the school crest all these decades later.

Was it school spirit? I’m not sure what you call it, but it was a powerful sense of belonging that rallied us to volunteer for school service projects and work endless fundraisers. (Some would argue that it was none of the above but rather, fear of getting a thrashing from Sister DePaul if you didn’t participate - but for sake of argument, let’s say it was the belonging thing:-)

I had the same sense of esprit de corps with the teams I played on. Oh we were never state champions. No, far from it. But we had this intense sense of pride and purpose. It made us show up again and again for grueling practices and endure long bus rides to hostile locales.

These were emotionally intense times. You would think that they would set the tenor for how we approach our post high school lives. Yet, the vast majority of work places don’t come anywhere near to eliciting that kind of passion.

Am I the only one who thinks that’s tragic?

Those times were capable of stirring something pretty awesome in me. Why wouldn’t an organization want to tap into that?

What work could become

I’m an advocate for organizations clarifying the profound difference they can make in a life, a community, and even the world. Some call it purpose. I call it Big Audacious Meaning. I’ve seen what it can do for the people inside those organizations. It’s transformative.

I can point you to studies that examine this. Or, I could suggest reading Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

But the most compelling reason to pay attention to purpose may just be that thing we experienced pre-adulthood. When we felt an intense sense of pride or belonging or purpose.

Imagine working somewhere that stoked that same kind of fire.

We need to demand that from the organizations where we work. We need to demand it of each other. And we need to demand it of ourselves.

Just think how that would feel. Think about how energizing that could be. Think about what our organization could accomplish if we harnessed an intense passion and purpose like we felt in high school.

We believed so intensely back then. You can cynically call it naïveté. But you can’t deny the powerful effect it had. That’s a power we need to unleash in our organizations and our work lives.

Dan Salva