What Covid19 Is Teaching Us About Purpose

I vividly remember stories after 9/11 where people changed the trajectory of their lives even if they were not impacted directly by the terrorist attack. Crises make us do that. They become eye-opening and thought-provoking milestones.

We lose someone we care about dearly at a young age; it stops us in our tracks to think twice about what to do with the rest of our lives. A disaster ruins our home; we realize what is most important in life. We see our loved ones being safe with us is more important than all the stuff we lost. There are many examples like these that get to be life-defining moments.

These life-altering decisions occur because these tragic events push people, mostly for the first time, to ask the very important and deep questions like:

Why am I here?
What should I do with my life?
What do I want my legacy to be?
What matters the most so that I can spend most of my time embracing them?

My philosophy has always been not to wait until something horrible happens. Let’s ask those important questions as early in life as possible to live a meaningful life no matter what. Why wait for a crisis to awaken? It seems like it is not natural to do that unless we live a very conscious life.

This Covid-19 Pandemic has the same kind of life-changing effect on many of us around the world. It gave us some extra time to think about why we are here. What we want to do with our one precious life. We realize again what matters the most. We appreciated the time spent with our children without the rush to get out of the house to go to work. We also miss our dear and loved ones in faraway lands since we could not travel.  (I am not used to not visiting my aging parents for this long and it is painful.) We literally stop more to smell the flowers. I have never noticed all the animal visitors we have in our backyard like I did in these last five months. Maybe we got laid off and instead of hurrying to send out 100 job applications right away, some of us who can afford it are taking the time to figure out what is next.

The racism issues that finally grabbed our attention were because of what was already happening with Covid-19 too because it caught us at a time when our pace was slower. We saw it for real and had the time to take it to the streets. The pandemic revealed a lot more of what was already not working for us.

In between all these challenging and trying times, there is that opportunity to stop and think more about how we want to live.

What do we want to do with our 168 hours every week? If we take away the 8 hours of work and 8 hours of sleep, we still have 56 hours to spend that can shape our legacy. If we want to add the 8 hours to do more meaningful “work”, that is even better.  We have 112 hours we can use our best skills, embrace more of our passion, and do more of what matters the most. We can be more conscious of how we spend our time.

This is a moment we do not want to miss. Discovering our Purpose is all about thinking about what we care about the most and doing something about it. We have created this system, way of living that we never get to give a pause. Let’s use this chance. Let’s see what is not working and what we want changed. Let’s notice where our energy wants to go and use that power to take the baby steps. We do not have to see everything transformed in our lifetime if it is a big shift we want. Maybe we can put a little ding in this world for what we care about the most.

As all big crises do, this one is also trying to tell us something. Something really important.

To me it sounds like:

You numbed yourselves in a system you created that made you super busy with no meaning-seeking time at all. This pandemic is big and global for a reason; you need to start building a more purpose-driven world.

To do the right thing for humanity, for more equality, for more meaningful work than just a daily grind. You are not born to lead meaningless lives. You can do better than this and this is your big chance. Please use it wisely; individually and globally.

What is your Purpose as a species? What is your Purpose as individuals and individuals in organizations? What will you do with your precious lives?

We can either ignore all these lessons or we can listen in this time; it is really our conscious choice.


Brooke O. Erol
Brooke O. Erol
Brooke O. Erol started her career at IBM following the traditional path she was given to be "successful". She quit her "great job" on paper after 11 years, feeling she is not aligned with it. She started her journey to find her purpose in life. She started her first business in 2003; Your Best Life to help professionals who don’t like their jobs and want to find more meaning at work. After being around so many unhappy people at work as her clients, she decided to help the organizations and leaders who employed them. She started her second business; Purposeful Business to help leaders catch up with our times and grow their businesses without sacrificing the well-being of their people; where profit becomes a by-product rather than the main goal. She believes life is too precious to live only for weekends and retirement. She is the author of Create a Life You Love. She is also the co-author of "From Hierarchy to High Performance: Unleashing the Hidden Superpowers of Ordinary People to Realize Extraordinary Results" that became an International Best Seller in 2018. She speaks and writes about Leadership, Purpose-Driven Life and Organizations, Future of Work in the US, and abroad.

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  1. Brooke — Thank you for this piece. “Purpose” is very much on my mind these days. As I wrote about here – – my wife and I were visited by a rather large hawk one evening.

    “Wow, you got a visit from a spirit animal,” advised one friend upon hearing our tale.

    Google “spirit animal – hawk” and you will read something like this:

    “If you see hawks showing up in your life, it may be a call to see things from a higher perspective and focus on your observation skills.”

    As a result, I am much more focused on my physical environment – our house and the neighborhood – but also my inner environment – my thoughts, goals, barriers etc. COVID, unresolved racial injustice, and our democracy-greatening political divide all point me toward the question: What am I doing to make this world a slightly better place?

    Thank you for hitting the nail on the head.

    • Thank you Jeff. You are so thoughtful and deep in your thinking I love it. I left some comments under your article too. I am paying a lot more attention to what is happening around me in my backyard like never before too. One silver lining of the pandemic I guess. I also need my purposeful work a lot more since there is so many things that worries me these days. If I did not have a mission to get up every morning it would have been a lot more difficult. Paying attention to birds and any piece of nature calms me down. Hope to read more of your wisdom.

    • It is an audacious goal for sure but what if we can even find the Purpose of America first? what if come together around a common purpose that unites us? Every country should have a purpose and vision that excites them, And world leaders can also think about the purpose of our species? What do we want to leave behind to other generations? people from all walks of life getting together engineers, sociologists, philosophers, legal, teachers, public service all coming together to create this common purpose…. Great dream to strive for. Thanks my friend.

  2. I believe we are at a crossroads. The wars and depressions of the pandemic demonstrate the kind of society we live in. It is evident as if we looked at it with X-rays, we are all aware of the shortcomings of our civilization, in particular the partiality, the useless rivalry with reason, the lack of respect for the sciences, there is a long series of defects which must be remedied and we can do it. We have the opportunity to subject society to a radical change that makes it stronger and more consistent, more understanding, but it’s up to us to make it happen.