curtis fisher.

contribute to a higher purpose - ikigai

- 3 Minute Read

Create something that the world needs. The world can mean humanity, which needs things like access to clean water, or it can mean the planet, which needs things like better sources of energy to reduce global warming.

In the world of startups the term "product-market fit" is often used to mean solving the right problem for the right market. Working on what the world needs is exactly the same idea. In this case, it's more of a human-purpose fit. The world benefits from the right humans serving the right purposes.

Ikigai Venn Diagram - What The World Needs This article is part of a mini-series on exploring Ikigai.

Why we should focus on what the world needs

You may be genuinely wondering why it's important to create things the world needs. And if it seems obvious, consider that as an alternative you could simply move to a cabin in Alaska never to be seen by another soul again.

Well to start, if you did that you may soon find yourself befriending a snowman named Wilson simply to feel a sense of connection. Not a terrible way to live I suppose.

More importantly, we are social animals. We evolved to exist in relationship with others. You can certainly spend a great deal of time alone, some people spend their whole lives alone. It doesn't make for the most fulfilling life.

David Brooks has a wonderful metaphor in his book, "The Second Mountain."

David Brooks Second Mountain

The First Mountain

Everyone starts their life on the first mountain. At top of the first mountain is your version of personal success. It could be wealth, status, good looks, a nice home. You may also want lots of great friends, a loving family, and a caring partner.

These are all things that you want to attain for your self. By definition, they are selfish. We treat selfish as a "bad word" but many of these things are valid pursuits.

The Second Mountain

As the metaphor goes, at some point in life we either make it to the top of the first mountain (we get what we want), or we face some catastrophe that knocks us off it.

Then, at the peak of the summit, or in the dust of our fall, we spot something in the distance.

It's another Mountain! A Second Mountain.

And this one is much bigger and much harder to climb.

At the top of this mountain is somewhat of a moral goodness. If on the climb to the top of the first mountain you focused on self, the climb to the top of the second mountain goes beyond self. Life on the Second Mountain resembles a deep commitment in service to others. It is by definition selfless.

Live a Fulfilling Life

A fulfilling life satisfies our desire to exist within community. It also gives us some purpose to live for, a higher calling, a Second Mountain.

Creating something that the world needs, something beyond your own needs, is a natural pathway to a fulfilling life. It automatically pivots your focus from self-interest to community, and provides a higher calling to work towards.