I love reading and learning about philosophical (or what I would call deep) topics, so when a good friend sent me an article titled “The Most Important Question You Can Ask,” I was pretty excited. And seeing that the article was from the Harvard Business Review, I thought it was going to be about the workplace or leadership. But I was wrong. The most important question can’t be grouped into a broad category.
If you’ve ever asked yourself “Why am I here?,” then you are already well ahead of the game. Because, according to this author, that is probably the most important and highest level question you can pose to yourself.
So after reading the author’s reasoning and thinking about my own stance, I would have to agree. And trust me, it’s a hard question to ask because the answer is usually not obvious. Depending on the lens being used, the answer may be religious in nature or perhaps even more personal and specific.
The author believes that whether people realize it or not, the bottom line is that “we’re all here to add more value to the world than we’re using up.” And again, I would have to agree just because it makes sense. Over hundreds of thousands of years, human beings have been adhering to that principal, and that is why we are where we are. They ensured that there was enough to go around for future generations. [Side note: whether we are continuing to do the same is debatable in so many ways.]
Like the author, I feel like I’ve spent the past 28 years of my life accumulating value – degrees, money, relationships, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done volunteer work to give back some of my time, but for some reason, it just doesn’t seem like enough. The question I should be asking myself is, “Am I adding more value than I’m using up on a daily basis?” And honestly, although I’d love the answer to be a resounding “YES”, I’m fairly certain it’s not.
As I’ve stated before, I’ve been blessed with a secure upbringing, people who love, support, and encourage me always, a strong education, etc. So, when I think about these things that I’ve been given, I also think about something else the author mentions – the “law of reciprocity” – receiving and giving. So much has been given to me in a short period of time, and it’s my responsibility to think about what I’m going to give back. And although on a very high level, I think my mindset and heart are in the right place, my work is most definitely cut out for me when it comes to everyday giving. And I’m really talking about very simple things/actions.
For example, I could do a better job of stopping and letting cars cut in front of me instead of accelerating. Or I could let someone with five things in her cart checkout before me in the grocery store. Or I could bake a few extra goodies and share with my coworkers (they’re all big fans of baked oatmeal).
These are all very tiny gestures that I believe add up to something huge, especially when undertaken by the majority.
So, while I’m not quite sure about what my larger purpose in life is yet, I know that it has to do with giving more than I’m taking. And that is something I can start working on today.
As the author states, If we can all, “live out what we stand for, intentionally, in every moment,” the answer to the most important question and all that goes with it will become more and more apparent.
See…I told you I love deep topics!!!
Thoughts? Do you believe in the “add more value than you take” concept?