I've had the privilege of going to several thought-provoking conferences this year: ConvergeSE in Columbia, South Carolina; Trey Smith's App Elite 2 in San Diego; Southland Summit in Nashville, Tennessee; and World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon.
Going to conferences creates whitespace. I can take a step back from client work, app development, and other business pursuits and take stock of how I'm spending my time.
What is my Big Why? What is my definition of success? What do I want?
Yes, I enjoy the exposure to new people, new ideas, and new opportunities, but I also need a chance every once in awhile to take a deep breath, to recalibrate my many projects, and to realign my day-to-day activities with long-term goals.
But any creative professional and entrepreneur with technology- or internet-based businesses runs the risk of missing the forest for the trees. Inspirational speakers stir our imaginations and remind us of our dreams. "Follow your heart," they say. Or, "do what you love." Or, "turn your passion into a seven-figure business.”
"Work" morphs into a synonym for self-actualization, and those of us who live in the U.S. and other wealthy countries quickly lose sight of the hard reality faced by most of the world's workers:
Bringing your heart to work is a luxury.
Get Rich While Having Fun
My friend Santi told me about a conversation he had with his dad, who is Colombian and moved to the States only after guerrillas kidnapped many of the family's friends and held them hostage for many months.
Santi's dad said that if digging ditches and filling them back in would have paid the most, then that was the job he would have taken. His labor put food on the table for his wife and children. Leading an "epic" life, "crushing it," and doing something "legendary" weren't a part of the equation for him.
We've developed a new lexicon to express the peculiarly Western desire to get rich while having fun.
Yet, this life goal is inaccessible to most of Earth's denizens.
Loving the work that you do and getting what you want are first-world problems, luxuries.
Use Your Work to Practice Generosity
I'm not saying that we should spurn this gift, but rather that we should faithfully steward it and use it to bless the lives of people less fortunate than us—people with no access to inspiring conferences, high-speed Internet, and the technology needed to build a location-independent empire.
Do love your work. Do follow your heart. Do turn your passion into an Everest of cash that you can redistribute.
Do remember that with great blessing comes great responsibility.
Have fun doing your work, and share the fun with people who have lost hope.
In other words, give generously.