If you are like most people, you likely got up today and went to work. I did. You'll spend the bulk of your day, and many of the days to come, like you've spent many days past: transacting.
The reality of material life is that we spend most of our time and energy doing tasks for money–money that pays the rent, money that heats the house, money that feeds the family. There is something more to life than pure transactional purpose and some of that money pays for a nice weekend or week off somewhere having some fun. Every once in a while I have a free day and go ice climbing. (Soon!)
Last year was my fortieth season. At the start of my first season I read the seminal work on the subject, "Climbing Ice", by Yvon Chouinard, who had also founded the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. I bought my first of many pieces that year. In addition to being an accomomplished alpinist, he was also an industrial designer and environmental activist. I had been flirting with becoming a mountain guide but ended up launching a business that made and sold climbing mitts. He was my inspiration to go to design school and follow that calling. His life seemed to have that rare quality. Integrity.
"YC" made quite a stir recently by deciding to give away the mass of his wealth to a trust that will use the profits of the company to fund initiatives to fight climate change. He created another structure to govern that business according to his principles and purpose, with a view to sustaining the business long after his death. This move was inspirational to some and controversial to others.
I don't know where you fall politically or philosophically on the issue of climate change, but I'm not here to litigate that controversy. I grew up in Alberta, smack dab in the middle of an oil and gas mecca. And I graduated from an environmental design school. I am well aware of the arguments on both sides of the net zero question including economics and energy security. It is a complex issue, but I do think there is an interesting lesson in YC's move.
The size of the "philanthropic" contribution that Chouinard (and his family) made is perhaps not unusual or even big for a billionaire, especially those who have joined Bill Gates' Giving Pledge. What is significant is the proportion of wealth he gave away: like, all of it. I've read pretty much everything he's written and was not overly surprised at the gesture; I just found it super interesting. His stated purpose is to "use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis", "protecting the source of all wealth on the planet". If integrity is to act in accordance with one's principles and purpose, I'd say that, like it or not, his initiatibve has it.
Patagonia makes and sells clothing. I get up every work day and deliver coaching sessions often wearing clothing that I bought from Patagonia. I send invoices and I collect payments. You're busy doing you. This is the transactional purpose of business. There is nothing inherently bad about that, and I don't resent it, but there is much more to life than just that.
My higher purpose is changing the lives of the people changing the world. We support purpose-driven entrepreneurs and their teams who have taken on the challenge of scaling something worthwhile. That is the "something more" that makes it worth getting up. We can spend the day making a significant impact on everyone we interact with.
What's your "something more"?