“YOU!” The stranger shouted at me from across the room.
I was standing in a dark, seedy bar off Magazine Street in New Orleans, with stone floors older than some American cities, the slick grease of a thousand good nights under my stilettos.
“Me?” I pointed at myself; my other hand busy keeping my ballgown off the ground. It was almost two in the morning. We’d spent the entire night pummeling the dance floor at my sister-in-law’s wedding reception.
“Yeah you!” He made his way through the crowd of sharply dressed wedding guests who were determined to keep the party going (NOLA, you know?). “You sang every word to ‘Domino!’ “
His face clicked—the guitarist from the wedding band. “Yes!” I yelled.
“I was like, this girl gets it. She gets it. THANK YOU,” he shouted over the noise, clapped me twice on the back, and moved on.
I smiled, relishing the nonchalant friendliness of home I spend most my days missing, and made my way to the bar to order a stiff gin and tonic.
When the Work Matters.
From Van Morrison-riffing guitarists, to entrepreneurs, to pastors, to writers—our work means the most when it matters to someone. When the thing that lights our soul on fire strikes like a match in the depths of someone else’s. When that happens, all the frustration, brutal hours, breakthroughs, and missing out becomes worth it. When that happens, our work has purpose.
And people are starved for purpose, whether they know it or not. Its my belief that we’re losing our purpose a little more with each passing decade (Spoiler alert: it’s what my book is about). And it’s leaving us miserable. Because human beings are hardwired for community. I’m not talking about community in the puddle-deep, gimmicky sense that can be found in an Instagram caption. I mean a to-the-bone sense of belonging that leaves people feeling full, not hollowed out. I mean the kind that are built around purpose.
Do You Know Why Your Work Matters?
Which can only mean one thing: If you don’t know your work’s purpose, you can’t find the ones who share it with you. Because that’s your audience. And when you find them, serve the hell out of them. Gather up all the things that start your fire and ask how they can be used to kindle one in the life of someone else.
I know it can seem hard to carve out your own corner of any niche these days, but there is still room at the table. That’s the beauty of shared purpose. You don’t need to resonate with every single person that comes along. It’s impossible, exhausting, and unfulfilling. Instead, look for the ones on the dance floor, covered in sweat, hair coming undone, singing their heart out to your song. That’s who your work matters to.
Gather them together to warm their hands around the same fire, and I promise, magic will happen.