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Leveraging the ‘Power of Purpose’ to invest in future generations

A major opportunity is beckoning Minnesota citizens – an opportunity that offers potential for longevity, improved quality of life, and an impact on future generations. What is this opportunity? Helping Minnesotans to find purpose through greater community volunteerism.

Findings indicate that adults of all ages are seeking purpose. One survey says 68 percent of young adults yearn for purpose in life. Other studies indicate that many adults who have reached economic stability long for more meaning and seek to build their legacy through new purpose.

The American Medical Association recently published findings that adults with a deep sense of purpose are happier, healthier, and live on average, seven years longer than adults who believe they lack purpose. The article goes on to say those with purpose are more engaged cognitively, physically and socially and that purpose can stave off depression and mortality.

Purpose offers an appealing sense of engagement and community impact. In simple terms, it motivates one to get out of bed each day. Purpose is an interest or a cause greater than oneself and can add meaning to life. Examples include caring for a loved one, volunteering for a meaningful community cause – whether cooking and serving in a homeless shelter kitchen or tutoring children in an after-school program.


Studies show three profound ways individuals of all ages who find their purpose can have a major impact on the community: First, purposeful adults are healthier and live longer. Second, healthier adults decrease health care costs. Third, volunteers who live longer can have an amplified and sustained positive collective community impact.

The analytics and trend tracking nonprofit Minnesota Compass places state individual volunteerism at more than 100 hours annually — which means Minnesota is top-ranked nationally. Volunteers provide a tremendous in-kind economic benefit to the community and generate a significant impact on the lives of those in need. Purposeful community volunteers help address the achievement gap, affordable housing, and environmental sustainability.

Kate Berman
Kate Berman
Moving the needle on community impact starts with helping Minnesotans identify, explore and connect with their personal purposes. The nonprofit think2perform RESEARCH INSTITUTE in collaboration with the Edina Chamber of Commerce is providing an opportunity to delve into the topic during a Nov. 7 event – Living & Leading with Purpose. As a first step I encourage the community to register to attend this half-day conference to be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Westin Edina Galleria.

The RESEARCH INSTITUTE focuses on advancing leadership in business and the community. We designed this conference to introduce participants to the power of purpose and we invited a dynamic roster of speakers: Richard Leider, author of “The Power of Purpose”; luncheon keynote Chris Farrell, MPR Marketplace host and author of “Purpose and a Paycheck”; and a leadership panel that will include retired Associate Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan C. Page and moderated by former General Mills executive Kim Nelson. This conference will inspire, engage and connect individuals to others who are looking for purpose. Registration is $75 and more information may be found at www.path-to-purpose.org.

Secondly, join the RESEARCH INSTITUTE in the new year at its three-part path-to-purpose seminar series, “Repacking your Bags for 2020.” Be part of the continued discussion on helping Minnesotans find and benefit from purposeful living and fully engage in the community. The series will conclude with a community volunteer fair where participants can match their skills and interests with organizations in need of those skills.

Stanford University’s prestigious Center on Longevity undertook a similar effort called “Pass It On: Mobilizing Encore Talent to Transform the Prospects of Vulnerable Children and Youth.” The National Parks system also currently leverages volunteers who find purpose in outdoor education to support its visitor centers during peak visitor times.

A unique opportunity exists to leverage the skills and experience of our citizens to address Minnesota’s most pressing community problems. Promoting purposeful living and volunteerism, connected with community need, could be a win-win for all Minnesotans — and for the state.

Kate Berman is the executive director of the think2perform RESEARCH INSTITUTE, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit think tank advancing moral, purposeful and emotionally intelligent leadership. 

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