A Sense of Purpose

Western Wall

Western Wall

The hardest thing about Tisha B’av, the day Jews most focus on tragedies, isn’t the hunger, the thirst, or the depressing (and often dull and deadening) prayer services. It’s the sense of purposelessness to the day, since Jewish law discourages activities that might distract Jews’ focus from mourning the destruction of Jerusalem.

I have 364 days a year to do great things but it requires one day where some mental activities are discouraged to remember that life requires a purpose and the energy and discipline to pursue it.

Today the larger focus is on the larger purposes of Judaism and Jerusalem, such as improving ourselves and our world, and connecting to each other and to the Eternal. On smaller scales, my purposes for today include pondering these issues and writing this blog post.

Purpose often gets lost at work, which is a shame. We need purpose. It can also help the business.

The top purpose should be bigger than the company. For Answers.com’s it’s answering people’s questions. This is the main level at which you want to be interacting with the larger community, and the people  in your company should be connected to this purpose too. Then there’s the company’s success — and the larger community may appreciate your company’s success if they connect to your company on some larger level.

One of the reasons I once left a job was comments the CEO made about how the company was going to take advantage of a different company. I wasn’t interested, and fortunately, I had alternatives. Especially in a time of social media and knowledge workers, you want your people feeling the company is part of some larger purpose.

Jewish tradition places the original sin of Tisha B’av as the Sin of the Spies, the Jews rejecting their destiny and instead requesting to return to being slaves. Being slaves doesn’t require going back to Egypt, it can simply involve getting lost in the day-to-day and ignoring or forgetting any larger or meaningful purpose or destiny. It’s important to frequently step back and make sure the day-to-day is part of something bigger.

Image courtesy of mockstar: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mockstar/233804025/