Echoing Green performed in-depth interviews with our world-changing Fellows in order to uncover the common experiences they had that helped them to identify and go after high-impact careers that were right for them and good for the world. We then compared our Fellows' best practices to scholarship from the world's top research institutions—from Stanford to Yale to U Penn—and pulled forth a list of practices we suggest for anyone who wants a high-impact social change career.
We call these practices What it Takes. We break down these principles into three categories:
Right for You – Practices in this category illustrate ways in which individuals can identify their personal purpose. They encourage individuals to reflect, get to know themselves, learn what moves them.
Good for the World – Practices in this category illustrate ways in which individualscan identify their public purpose. They help individualsto explore the impact their work will have on the world around and identify the specific social and environmental issues that they want to take on.
Be Bold – Practices in this category illustrate ways in which individuals can develop the boldness to pursue their personal and public purpose.
Right for You
Mine Your Past
Reflect on your history in order to understand what motivates you, both positively and negatively. This reflection will help you create a career that is connected to your core.
Know What You've Got - Know What You Need
Uncover your unique contribution(s) to the world. In the meantime, either develop the skills, strengths, contacts, experiences, insights, or education you still need, or prop yourself up by surrounding yourself with people whose gifts compliment your own.
Heart + Head = Hustle
Find ways to work from both your heart and your head, collapsing the divisions between these two aspects of yourself in your work as often as possible. It is the only way to achieve what we call hustle.
Good for the World
________ is What Matters
Fill in the blank. Figure out what social problem(s) matters to you, and prioritize addressing it. (After all, saying “yes” to what really matters to you almost always means saying “no” to other things.)
Act on Moments of Obligation
Identify and seize the moments in which you have been, and continue to be, moved to take responsibility for helping solve one of the world's biggest problems. Then turn that feeling into concrete action.
Take Perspective…Someone Else’s
Cultivate a deep curiosity about the world and actively seek to understand other populations, perspectives, models, and disciplines. Interdisciplinarianism is critical to innovative thinking, as it allows you to see connections and patterns where those who stay within a silo cannot, and understanding perspectives of those affected by social problems is essential for high impact, culturally competent work.
Fear Means Go
Distinguish between healthy fears and the kind of barrier fears that stem from your insecurities. Your barrier fears are signals that you need to GO…not away from that which scares you, but toward it.
Gall to Think Big
Give yourself permission to try out smart, untested tactics, models, and ideas, even if you aren’t 100% certain you’ll succeed. After all, failure is one of life's greatest learning tools and can be proof that you are thinking big. (In fact, if you haven't failed in a while, ask yourself if you need to take on bolder challenges!)
Think Like an Entrepreneur
Move through your life and your career with an entrepreneurial spirit, and apply the focus, energy, and positivity to founding your social impact career that you would apply to founding a new business or organization.
Become an expert in the work you are most drawn to. Get to know all of the relevant people, organizations, research, books, and articles; surround yourself those who are as excited to understand the field as you are; study; volunteer; immerse yourself!
Remember, this whole process takes time. Purpose is a path. So relax. It’ll take some time, but you’ll get there. And then you’ll realize you aren’t there after all. Because we’re never really there. But still, we keep on trying.