If you’ve hung around this site, subscribed to the email list, or followed me on social media, you know that I am obsessed with engineering impact. It is how I close every email and is the focus of nearly every article and post. Heck, my tagline is Engineer with Impact. But what does that really mean? And how do we know if we are doing it?
As engineers, we pride ourselves on the ability to problem-solve. And rightfully so. We are dang good at it! We’ve spent years, if not decades of our lives, honing the craft of working through problem after problem, getting a precise solution. But sometimes we get so focused on solving the problem in front of us that we don’t stop to think if the problem is really…well…the problem. And when we fail to solve the right problems, we fail to Engineer with Impact.
What this really boils down to is whether the work you are doing has a positive impact in someone else’s life.
If you, or another engineer, wasn’t doing this work – what would be the consequences?
- Someone would get hurt?
- Be hungry?
- Get sick?
- Won’t have access to clean water?
It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the trendy things that are happening in the world. The new, the exciting. But is it work that really matters?
I say this not to minimize the work you are doing. Many times when I asks these questions of the engineers I work with, they walk away with a greater sense of purpose. They feel more connected to the work. It stops being just a problem they are solving and starts becoming true impact.
As a brand new engineer it is easy to get sucked into just churning out solutions. Sure it feels good to get the right answer. It’s always a boost when you accomplish a goal, finish a project, or eliminate an obstacle at work. But long-term, if the solutions and answers are connected to your personal purpose, then the satisfaction will be short-lived.
So how do you fix this problem? Make sure that they work that you are doing aligns with your purpose.
Sound like a bunch of fluffy stuff? It’s not.
Here is a simple formula to figuring out your purpose:
Your Purpose = Passions + Learned Skills + Natural Strengths + Needs of Others
While the formula is simple, it can take some dedicated time reflecting on each of these to really figure out your purpose.
And once you discover your purpose, it does not always need to be a complete career change to pursue it. Often it can mean little tweaks to your current role.
There are many things about engineering that is appealing including the salary and the accolades that come along with solving problems for your company. But 10, 20, and 30 years into your career you will likely find yourself looking back and wondering “What legacy am I leaving?” or “What impact has my work had on the world?”
So take some time today to think about it, so that years down the road you won’t have to wonder what your legacy will be – you’ve engineered it throughout your career. Now go out and Engineer with Impact!