On his podcast, Tim Ferriss (serial entrepreneur, bestselling author, investor, and Grade A badass) has interviewed hundreds and hundreds of world-class performers from all industries and walks of life.
One of the most common questions Tim asks his guests is which book they would most recommend to others. The answers vary widely, but in one of his most recent episodes, Tim revealed that, by far, the most common answer to this question is a book published all the way back in 1946.
The book is called Man’s Search for Meaning and it was written by a psychiatrist named Viktor Frankl.
Not only was Frankl a psychiatrist, but he was also a Holocaust survivor, giving him a wildly unique perspective on the fundamental needs of human beings, behavioral tendencies, and more.
So, what’s so special about this book? Great question.
This book, as its name suggests, dives deep into the question of finding one’s purpose in life, which can be applied directly to why you’re building your business. During his time at various Nazi concentration camps, Frankl realized the main factor in driving human behavior is our journey to find meaning in life; a journey to find a purpose unique to the individual.
The applications of Frankl’s principle extend far beyond entrepreneurship. While struggling to live through the daily atrocities seen at these concentration camps, Frankl observed that those who had a purpose, a reason to live, were significantly more likely to survive relative to those who didn’t.
Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on. He was soon lost. – Viktor Frankl
As entrepreneurs, Frankl’s idea of searching for purpose might seem counterintuitive to many of the principles we’re fed today, where aimless hustling seems to be at the epicenter of business motivation. In the entrepreneurial community, we’re often told to chase the dollar, to chase the opportunity in the market, to chase the impossible.
Frankl’s work suggests the complete opposite. He says that financial success, fame and more should come as a result of you fulfilling your purpose, but should not be the driving force. If you’re actively fulfilling your purpose in life, then happiness and satisfaction will naturally come to you as you pursue that purpose.
Beyond this book, the concept Frankl describes here has been gaining widespread popularity as of late (thank goodness). Public figures, like Simon Sinek (bestselling author of Start With Why), have devoted their entire careers to preaching the message that entrepreneurs should be motivated by a mission, by why they started a company, as opposed to being motivated by wealth or a financial opportunity.
People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe. - Simon Sinek
Take a long time to answer this question. Think critically. After reading this book, I’ve realized that my purpose in life is to use the skills I’ve developed and knowledge I’ve gained to help make entrepreneur’s lives a little easier. All that I do, writing this column, consulting for clients, speaking at conferences and more, is a way to fulfill my purpose.
Once you have answered this question, you’re no longer working hard just for you. You’re working hard to help others. You’re working hard to reach a goal that’s bigger than yourself, which could result in more motivation than you’ve ever had before. This will cause a ripple effect in your business, much like it has done for the countless world-class performers who recommended Frankl’s book.