Aim Higher: Tom Rath Asks Life’s Great Question

Follow Your Contribution

 

How do you move from self-focus to other-focus?

 

“The key is to invest more time where your talents will yield the greatest return for others.” -Tom Rath

 

Often, after I record a podcast, I return to it and think about what I discussed with my guest. It’s such a privilege to talk with so many great leaders, writers and thinkers who have so many great things to teach us. This week’s guest, Tom Rath, is no exception. And our discussion about his new book, Life’s Great Question: Discover How You Contribute to the World was really special. And in reviewing it, I was struck again not just by how smart he is, but how kind. His basic premise—thinking about your work in terms of what you can contribute—is such a great way of thinking about an outward-focused life and servant-focused commitment to leadership.

 

“How can I take the job I have and make it into a job I love and that serves others?” -Tom Rath

 

 

But he said something else that, upon reflection, I realized was a great metaphor for living an outward-focused life. We talked a bit about the importance of creating an environment that encourages good choices. For example, not leaving plates of unhealthy snacks on the kitchen counter. If they’re there… we’ll just eat them. Similarly, if you leave an exciting novel on your bedside table, you’ll be tempted to read one more chapter and you may not get enough sleep. However, if you build a “personal environment” that encourages good habits, you’ll be more likely to make healthier choices.

What occurred to me is that the people we impact at work are a part of our environment, too. When we focus on ourselves, we actually create a “personnel environment” that encourages bad habits. We don’t set up our colleagues and teams for success, and therefore we aren’t set up for success. This is what Tom means by focusing on contributions over passion. His new book has a lot of good advice on this topic, and when you buy it, you can also register for the Contribufy tool, a 20 minute exercise that helps you identify areas where you have the most potential for contribution. It’s a great, new way of thinking about how to center what you do externally and create an environment that will help you, ultimately, find more value in your work and your life.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

 

“Don’t follow your passion, follow your contribution.” -Tom Rath 

 

Listen to Aim Higher by clicking here.

 

tom rathAbout Tom Rath

Tom Rath is an author and researcher focused on how work can improve human well-being. His many books including How Full Is Your Bucket? and StrengthsFinder2.0, have sold millions of copies and regularly top bestseller lists. During his years at Gallup, Tom led the organization’s strengths, employee engagement, wellbeing, and leadership consulting worldwide. He also served as Vice-Chair of the VHL cancer research organization and has been a regular lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania. Most recently, Tom co-founded a publishing company. Tom holds degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife, Ashley, and their two children.

 

 

“Every hour invested in the growth of one of your closest relationships will just grow and grow and grow.” -Tom Rath

 

“Great work is forged with effort, it doesn’t just fall from the heavens.” -Tom Rath

 

 

“Contribution is the sum of what grows when you are gone.” -Tom Rath

 

 

For more information, see Life’s Great Question: Discover How You Contribute to the World.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image credit: Evan Dennis.

 

Previous

Next

Want to accelerate your team's success?

Want to accelerate your team's success?

Subscribe today and receive a free gift. Here are 25 actions Skip uses for his own team! Get 25 Team Actions for Winning Teams free when you sign up to receive blog updates via email.

Thank you! Please check your inbox to confirm your subscription.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This