When you picture the average CEO, chances are you don’t think of someone who’s only 22 years old. Nor are you likely to imagine them making waves in a technically minded niche like international logistics.
But that’s exactly what you get with Max Lock, the dynamic founder of Fleet. When he was still 19, Lock raised $4 million to help launch his business, which helps streamline global distribution for small companies.
Skipping college to start a logistics company is certainly not the most conventional thing to do after graduating from high school, but for Lock, the decision was easy. Like many entrepreneurs, he had intense passion for his idea. But he also had a sense of purpose.
Here’s a closer look at two key attributes that enabled Lock to find professional purpose in an unlikely area, and how you too can use this same mindset to find purpose in your work, no matter what you do for a living.
For Lock, one of the biggest factors that allowed him to find purpose with his startup was the knowledge that he was solving a real problem that affects people around the globe.
“Ocean and air freight is a huge industry, but hardly anything has changed in it for the last 50 years,” he explains. “Especially with international shipping, the customers are often left without solid communication options or any real control over their shipments.”
Managing logistics was actually a problem that Lock had experienced firsthand with his earlier startups. His own challenges in trying to handle seemingly countless phone calls and emails to deal with logistics issues helped him recognize where a need existed.
Solving a problem that he himself had experienced proved to be a major motivating factor for Lock. “I knew that other people were dealing with even tougher logistics problems than I was,” he says. “Coming up with a better solution wouldn’t just help myself — it would help a lot of other businesses, too.”
We can’t all work for one of those flashy startups that seek to create alternative fuels or provide clean water to needy communities. But recognizing how your own work solves a very real problem can give you a deep sense of professional purpose that keeps you motivated in his work.
As you recognize the ways you help others address their concerns and make the world a better place — even in a small way — it will be that much easier to stay motivated in your work. Identifying problems that need new solutions could even help you come up with your own great startup idea!
Lock didn’t always work in logistics. In fact, his very first startup was an ice cream company. Though the challenges he faced in that initial business helped motivate his transition to Fleet, another key factor was his constant interest in learning.
“I learned to make ice cream when I was working as an IT administrator,” Lock recalls. “Then my ice cream business led me to importing goods, then logistics. I’ve learned to never be so locked into a single idea that I ignore other interests or opportunities.”
Indeed, this mindset has been a major contributor to Lock’s ability to find purpose no matter what he’s doing. “In every job I’ve had, every startup I’ve worked on, I’ve been able to learn something new,” he says.
“That’s such an exciting thing! Even when the work gets hard, I know that at the end of the day, what I’m doing is ultimately helping me become a more well-rounded and knowledgable person.”
This mindset can help anyone who might be struggling to find a sense of purpose in what they do. None of us are perfect. There are always new things you can learn. There are new skills you can develop (including people skills).
By looking for ways in which your work can help on your own self-improvement journey, it becomes much easier to gain a sense of purpose in what you do.
Recognizing and appreciating these learning opportunities is also a great exercise in gratitude. By focusing on the positive experiences you gain through your work, you’ll come to better appreciate what you do and how it helps you become a better person.
We all experience those days where it’s difficult to feel motivated about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. But as Max Lock’s experience in logistics illustrates, you can find meaning and fulfillment in your work no matter what you do for a living.
As you look for ways to make a positive impact and identify how your work helps you grow personally, you’ll be more motivated to always give your best effort. When this happens, you’ll be able to find your purpose and make a real difference.