My coaching clients all face the same question once we reach the right level of trust that allows for full openness, honesty, and connection:

Tell me about a time you felt truly alive.

I like to catch them a bit off guard. The conversation leading to the question isn’t always deep. It’s typically more of a fun though honest chat. Then this gem comes along. Delivered well, and credit to the coachee being receptive and responsive, it is revealing and enlightening to us both.

I think patterns tell us a lot. What I found with this question is every response relates to an involvement with other people. The answer isn’t about them in an isolated environment, alone in a quest, or of their own individual accomplishments.

One day, someone may answer in an entirely self-focused way. If that happens, I’ll be sure to note, update this piece, and not judge. Currently, there’s a clear correlation based on all I have coached thus far.

How the answer manifests isn’t important. It will involve an element like family, friends, or a likeminded community. There’s a human connection.

That’s what is important. Human connection.

In our working lives, we negotiate jobs based on salaries and benefits, we seek out responsibilities around technical skills, and we move through our careers looking at opportunities for exposure and advancements.

There is no time more motivating than a time of feeling truly alive. Thus, the real motivators in our work should not be limited to titles, money, and achievements. All of this has and does motivate me, so I do not suggest we abstain or disregard, but rather supplement them with a force multiplier.

Contribution to others is the force multiplier.

When we’re in a mode of contribution, we are more effective. (Note: Being more effective happens to also lead to advancements, monetary gains, and skill improvement. That’s a wonderful ancillary, though not leading, benefit.)

Contribution to others in our marketing provides a lens that emphasizes quality and integrity. Are we providing an enjoyable experience? Are we deceiving or educating? Are we being helpful and valuable or proposing an inequitable exchange?

Contribution-based marketing is better marketing. Not just for the good of the world, not just for being kind to your target market, but for the bottom-line as well. A company that contributes is a company that prioritizes effectiveness and long-term growth – and that is a company that flourishes.

Ask yourself how you can incorporate contribution in the next thing you do.