THE BLOG

The Secret to Becoming the New Powerful

05/14/2015 06:23 pm ET | Updated May 14, 2016

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Elon Musk is disrupting things. Again.

With his announcement of the Powerwall battery, in a TED-like presentation, Elon challenged us to be different -- to see the potential to harness electricity in new ways that are "infinitely scalable." And his message has caught fire across social media. Everyone's talking about him re-imagining energy for us and leveraging our greatest natural resource. As Elon said, "We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky, called the sun. You don't have to do anything; it just works."

What makes Elon's radically simple approach to this traditional challenge so compelling? No one seems to be talking about it, but it's the key for anyone who wants to lead the future and become the New Powerful.

He has an Endless Purpose.

Yes, he's helped develop a five-passenger luxury sedan that outdrags a Porsche 911, uses half the energy of a Prius and has the highest crash-safety rating ever recorded. But it's more than that. Sure, he's envisioned and led the impossible launch of private industry rockets with SpaceX, succeeding in competing directly with the six mightiest countries on earth. But it's about more than that. He's shared his ridiculously awesome idea for the Hyperloop, open sourcing a concept that could officially change transportation forever. But it's about even more than that.

Beneath all these big ideas is Elon's greatest desire: "I want to be involved in things that will change the world."

He thinks way beyond immediate business impacts, boldly connecting with new dreams that inspire everyone. Elon isn't afraid to look crazy in the short term because he's built a beautiful future in his mind that carries him forward with power.

Those who have an Endless Purpose don't rely on the static mission statement, the prescriptive embodiment of what they ultimately want to be. Watch people like Elon and our beloved Tesla, and you'll see they just are what they aspire to be -- they don't need to stare at a self-proclaimed prescription to remember it, they just are it. It's in them, and everyone around them knows it, because they see it as they live and breathe it.

Creating an Endless Purpose is about being bold and visionary and inviting different views to refine thinking in pursuit of big solutions, connecting silos rather than building more of them. It's about emphasizing the human experience and creating a culture of prototyping -- exploring the art and science of anything: a relationship, a multi-million dollar deal, or an early morning run. It's about getting grounded in power-producing ideas, to dream the future and then create it. And it's about constantly putting the Why first and taking risks to be original, even when other people may aimlessly imitate. Far from being ego-driven, it's about linking to something bigger than ourselves.

Most people live in a small box and don't believe they can influence much. They limit themselves. Those with an Endless Purpose don't accept that. They reject that approach. And they change things. They embrace possibilities, expanding into the universe to shape it into something greater than anyone imagined before. They have a singular purpose that drives them to change the world. And that fuels big ideas, giving their actions life. Live that way, and you won't accept the status quo, because you'll be shaping the new future.

We're all motivated by different things, but studies show that the most powerful, highest-performance goals are connected to meaning. Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker examined experiences of 397 people who described their lives as happy and others who described their lives as meaningful. She found that being happy and finding life meaningful overlap, but that there are important differences. What they found was surprising. Satisfying one's needs and wants increased happiness but was largely irrelevant to meaningfulness. Those who considered their lives happy focused on what was happening to them in the present moment and were "takers," and those who considered their lives meaningful found insights exploring and integrating their past, future, and present and were "givers." Givers go beyond focusing on a balanced life, to creating one that is connected to what's most important.

When we make goals about achieving something tied to serving others, our goals keep on giving. An Endless Purpose like that keeps you connected to work, life, and the world. Here are some characteristics of an Endless Purpose:
- One line that captures what will constantly be motivating for you every day
- Like a life teaser trailer sharing the best of you for those you love and respect most
- Not designed as a version of you in terms of upgrades (2.0, 3.0, etc.), but in terms of the lasting version that will be the same today, tomorrow, and decades to come
- Powered by inspiring concepts (kindness, courage, connection, etc.)

Creating an Endless Purpose means experiencing life in a way that is so engaging and fulfilling that it puts us "in the zone," in that special place where time slows down, where we find real joy. Where we feel like we're actually doing what we came to earth to do. People who understand how important this is to growth will win the future as they inspire success all around them.

The world needs people who have an Endless Purpose. Be one.

(Cross-posted on LinkedIn)
(photo credit: Alamy)

Follow Chris on Twitter @CDeaver7