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Finding Purpose in the Unfamiliar: Tijuana, Self-Discovery, and the Power of Meaningful Work

My family and I recently traveled to Mexico to serve at an orphanage (dofo.org if you are interested in getting involved). This is a typical trip we take about every other year and have taken with our kids about 5 to 6 times. Each trip consists of a combination of service opportunities that include:

1. Giving the kitchen staff a break and making meals during the week for 150-200 hungry kids and staff

2. Serving food in Tijuana to those that have made a garbage dump their home

3. A building project either on site at the orphanage or for members of the community

Each service project allows us to work outside our comfort zone and push us to learn and collaborate with others in service or with people from different cultures that often speak a different language.

In addition to serving often forgotten communities, it is an excellent opportunity for my family to nurture gratitude and deepen our connection while working on a mission together.

reflections on meaningful work

Reflections On The Importance Of Meaningful Work

While doing a building project (a new gym) on the campus of the orphanage, I had some good reflections on work, especially as it relates to the work we do at Cloverleaf and our mission to unleash people to do their best work.

At Cloverleaf, we have a guiding principle or belief that work is good. While not defining us, work is a meaningful part of who we are and how we derive satisfaction in our lives. Because of this important role in our lives, we believe people should be unleashed to do their best work. Our product helps people grow in self-awareness by helping them better understand their strengths and using them to do better work and have a more fulfilling life.

With that context as the backdrop, can you imagine as I struggled to tie rebar together on the construction site, it created a small internal crisis about the impact I was having while on this mission trip?

  • “How valuable was my presence here?”
  • “Is this the best use of my time?” 
  • “This can’t be helpful to the project leader.”
  • “Helping them build a strategic plan may have a greater impact.”

All of these thoughts went through my mind as I struggled for 45 minutes to do something it could have taken the project leader less than five minutes to complete.

self discovery

Embracing the Journey: Self-Discovery as a Pillar of Fulfilling Life

In reality, the Cloverleaf approach of self-awareness towards being unleashed to do your best work is the right approach. But it doesn’t invalidate the journey of self-discovery that is a key ingredient to a life well lived.

Life isn’t all about creating the most impact; sometimes, the lessons we learn when we aren’t focused on outcomes are the best to help us do and be our best. It is good to be pushed outside your comfort zone and to struggle through a different kind of work because that is where learning, creativity, and ingenuity are birthed.

Cloverleaf isn’t making any pivots based on this insight. We will stay focused on helping people understand themselves better (even if they aren’t playing to their strengths) and being better with those around them. But it was a good reminder that we need to step outside of that occasionally to gain respect and appreciation for what others do so effortlessly and push ourselves outside our comfort zone to improve learning and personal growth.

I hope everyone reading this gets an opportunity for a summer break and a chance to recharge and see things from a fresh perspective.

Darrin Murriner

Darrin Murriner

Darrin Murriner is the co-founder and CEO of Cloverleaf.me - a technology platform that brings automated team coaching to the entire enterprise through real-time, customized coaching in the tools employees use daily (calendar, email & Slack / Teams). The result is better collaboration, improved employee relationships, and a more engaged workforce. Before starting Cloverleaf, Darrin had a 15-year corporate career that spanned Munich Re, Arthur Andersen, and Fifth Third Bank. Darrin is also the author of Corporate Bravery, a book focused on helping leaders avoid fear-based decision-making.