“Fully alive and deeply committed is a risky business. Once you strip away the platitudes, a life of passion and purpose will always cost, as T. S. Eliot reminds us, ‘Not less than everything.’” -Steven Kotler
Before I jumped on a call with a marketing expert Colin Scotland to tackle the *exhilarating* topic of marketing automation, I would have bet a lot of money that nothing much would come of it other than a few practical ideas to help scale my company.
I knew nothing about Colin but given his marketing expertise, I assumed he’d be a wheeling-and-dealing type, trying to pitch me on some overpriced coaching package.
But so far from the stereotypical sales guy I’d imagined, I encountered a humble, kind, and soulful man who seemed genuinely interested in making a human connection and helping me.
Colin kept asking me this really annoying question: “Why?” Why did I want to scale my business? Why was I working so hard to improve our systems and processes?
Yeah yeah, I thought. I know why I do what I do. But despite years of feeling fulfilled with my therapeutic work and deeply rooted in my calling to it, there was still something missing.
The “Why” question felt like an annoying gnat swarming around me incessantly no matter how frantically I tried to swat it away. Why was I doing all this?
While therapy was powerful and meaningful work, I knew I wanted to make a difference in the world beyond my therapeutic practice, but didn’t know how.
For years I’d secretly fantasize about putting my efforts toward eradicating world hunger. I’d read Peter Singer’s The Life You Can Save, in which he demonstrated that we could feed the entire global population if everyone living above the poverty line donated 1% of their income.
One percent. That’s so completely doable.
But starting a non-profit of my own seemed like too much to take on with my existing business. What skills did I have that could make a meaningful difference in the world on a global scale?
After many years of being told global issues were intractable, I had given up on big dreams, deeming them the grandiose and naive fantasies of youth and resigning myself to the contented but yearning self. Helping people as a therapist was enough, wasn’t it?
“Everything has to point toward your ‘Why’––to your North Star,” Colin told me. “And your North Star is where your skills and passions intersect with your life’s purpose.”
The moment he said that, everything seemed to shatter and materialize at once. I suddenly realized the motivation for expanding my business for the last few years really boiled down making more money.
I cringed. I knew that was not who I was nor wanted to be. I was out of integrity.
I wondered, what had happened to the idealistic grad student so many years ago who lobbied for Permanent Supportive Housing policies, who wrote poetry to raise money for clean water wells with Water.org, and lent what little money I had at the time to support women’s education and business through microfinance with Kiva? When did my focus shift?
As a result of believing I couldn’t make a real difference, I’d let the excitement of business expansion eclipse my deep desire to help the world.
In one way, the realization felt like a dagger to the chest. But mostly it felt like freedom.
I’d been racking my brain for so many years to figure out how I could make a difference in the world when the answer was right in front of me all along.
Suddenly, it was so clear. I could see exactly how every aspect of my life could be oriented toward my North Star: facilitating individual and collective healing, empowerment, and awakening in service of social change and the eradication of global poverty.
I didn’t need to start a non-profit or spend years developing an entirely new skill set to help the world. I could use my existing skills, resources, and platform to promote social causes, change collective agreements around global equity, and empower individuals to heal and awaken in service of something greater than themselves.
As I began to inform myself more, I came to a staggering realization: for the first time in history we have the resources, infrastructure, and technology to eradicate poverty.
If we learn to leverage our existing skills, educate others, and band together to donate 1% strategically to the “Best Charities”, we can end poverty “like a disease.” According to research, the impact of donating to those goes up to 1,000 times farther than most other charities.
In other words, a donation of $5 to any one of those initiatives is worth $5,000 in terms of impact elsewhere. So where you give your money is actually more important than how much you give.
My new awareness lit a fire under me like I’ve never experienced before. Within a year, I increased My LA Therapy’s revenue by a third and we started to give 10% of our profits to the most effective charities.
I began to work diligently to expand my platform to promote and donate to organizations like the Against Malaria Foundation, which is one of the charities that has one of the lowest costs per life saved.
I launched a new company, My Truest North, to guide others in the process of scaling their businesses in service of higher purpose and social change, developed a holistic framework called Emergence Theory to use as a roadmap to guide people through the process of individual and collective awakening, and began leading international retreats to teach others how to heal, awaken, and unlock their higher purpose in service of personal and social transformation.
And all because Colin asked me, “Why?”
This is how higher purpose has the potential to accelerate personal transformation, financial abundance, and global impact. And the science bears this out too.
According to peak performance and flow neuroscience research, serving something beyond ourselves generates creativity, innovation, and a deep sense of meaning. We cannot achieve ultimate performance without a higher purpose.
Psychology research has arrived at similar conclusions: true self-actualization is impossible without integrating some element of service for others.
This is one of the paradoxes of being human. We cannot fully live out our highest individual purpose without putting something above ourselves.
We are not separate. What serves the collective serves us individually. And social change is the inevitable result of genuine individual healing and awakening.
Using our existing skills, platforms, and communities in a way that serves something greater than ourselves is something we are all capable of simply by orienting our endeavors in such a way that it serves a greater mission.
This week on On Living, Colin and I reconnected to discuss higher purpose, presence, spirituality, and the freedom to let down our walls and reawaken childlike play and wonder.
Colin is one of the kindest people I know—not to mention a marketing automation wizard, so definitely check out his website if you’re interested in expanding your business.
Check out our conversation here:
Brooke Sprowl is the Founder of My LA Therapy, a concierge therapy practice, and My Truest North, a cross-disciplinary coaching and consultancy firm specializing in mission-driven entrepreneurs seeking greater integrity, spiritual awakening, and deeper ways to actualizing their higher purpose through collective service. With 15 years of clinical experience as an individual, couples, and family therapist, she is trained in a wide-range of approaches, from evidence-based therapy practices to peak performance and flow neuroscience techniques. Brooke is also the host of the podcast, On Living with Brooke Sprowl. She is passionate about writing, cognitive science, philosophy, integrity, spirituality, effective altruism, personal and collective healing, and curating luxury, transformational retreat experiences for people who are committed to self-discovery and using their unique gifts in service of the world.