DISCLAIMER: This text has been written around 2016 and does not reflect my current sense of personal mission. Feel free to read this text for its frameworks though.
There is a maxim, which I try to orient my work and life around, now and hopefully increasingly more so in the future:
How can I make the biggest possible impact for positive change with regards to my abilities and interests?
This question might be idealistic, but it has been helping me ever since I have formulated it for the first time to think big about my actions – and the impact I want to have in my lifetime.
I have spent a long time seeking for an answer to this question until I realized that for myself it is a question of action and something taking place in a process. I could never find a final answer to this question of purpose in theories and writing.
Nonetheless, I have come to a point I believe where I am able to answer this question abstractly nonetheless, so to say as a mental navigation system. So, to answer this question satisfactorily for myself, I have come up with many models and concepts, because they help me to think more clearly on these issues.
The first one visualizes my fields of interest and areas of intellectual competency: Human Development, Sustainability and Future Studies. They are also, non-coincidentally, what I consider being maybe the most relevant fields of study not only for understanding but also for improving the world – making an impact.
These areas I have found of course have to have certain sectors or spaces of taking effect and becoming. And the four sectors or players in the concert of societal development are academia, the corporate or private sector, government and the public sector or publicity.
Acting on the edges of all of these sectors and connecting them with each other, while being firmly anchored in one of them.
Furthermore, I think that within each of these areas and within each of these sectors there are different levels of impact. All of them are important and valuable I think ( – more about that here.)
Briefly, I would postulate five major levels of impact, four of which are shown in the graphic below:
- thought-leaders, people who make an impact through the positive ideas they spread – eg. authors;
- project-leaders, who have a leading position in a specific domain – eg. senior managers;
- project-workers, blue or white-collar people who provide a concrete impact on a specific project – eg. project-member and
- kind-humans, who support the people around them – eg. as a sibling or friend.
Today, I also see a fifth level of donating in an effectively altruistic fashion, which means uniting the aspiration of making a difference with critical reflection. A number of organizations have been deemed the most effectively in bringing the greatest utility to the highest number of people – eg. “Deworm the world” brings deworming pills to poor countries where for less than .5 USD they can save a life. This is the philanthropic level (5).
Concludingly, I do not want to let the maxim of “doing one’s part to change the world” remain a maxim. The world is to important than to stop at paying lip service to saving it. I seek for my path to leverage my impact, which for me personally currently is found in bringing human development to innovative organizations.
Finally, I want to briefly (long version here) share my model for a Great Life – the idea of which, has always been highly attractive to me. Basically I believe that there are Three Great Lives – a trinity with a small “t” so to say. At first I had believed that these are different paths, separate from another and maybe even mutually exclusive. However I think and know from experience that they integrate quite well. As such they even roughly correlate with Plato’s the Good, the True and the Beautiful.
- The first Great Life to me is the purposeful one, where one makes an impact of the world. This has been extensively elaborated above. It is doing what is right and means contributing to the people around one, their societies and also in some sense to global stability and development. This to me is the Good Life – in the Platonic sense.
- However it does not end there. I firmly believe that there is another Great Life. This one is all about making experiences of joy and mirth. It also means seeing things and overall filling one’s life here on earth with points of views, moments of a variety of emotions and diverse experiences. This is to be achieved, for example, in living in different countries throughout one’s life and trying to experiment and see new things. As such, it is more than just a kind of hedonistic “seeking pleasure” – after all it is the Beautiful Life.
- And finally, there is the life which some people do not have an inclination for or might even find ludicrous or appalling. I want to make clear that my concept of the last of the Three Great Lives, the spiritual one, is seen as different than a religious life. To me a spiritual life means meditation and spiritual practice. It means seeking for God or Awakening – without trying to impose any values on anybody else nor bringing any values into this. It is simply a personal spiritual path, which I have found to bring great energy and clarity. The Platonic idea of the True Life is what I associate with it most readily.
So this is what I am now envisioning that my life and my work is and is going to be about. In a nutshell I ambitiously try to try to think big for the benefit of humanity.
On a final note, I am aware that my ideas will change and my vision and this mission will be adapted – and revised and that is good – that is life.