Tenaya Wallace: Finding Your Why

TIMA  |  March 31, 2019
Photo by: Dennis Lee

Author: Julienne Chi
Editor: Anik Ghose

At the 2019 TIMA Global Forum, keynote speaker Tenaya Wallace defines purpose as focusing on WHY you do something and not HOW.  She asks rhetorically, “Why are you all here today so early on a Saturday morning?” The answer: you have to find your purpose.

Wallace started out her career doing purposeful work in non-profit organizations as an environmentalist, working with organ donation, and children in hospitals. She was happy fulfilling her purpose of contributing to society. But then her diagnoses of cancer changed her outlook and she didn’t want to be a source of contributions any more. She found a job she didn’t love, working with bombs, something that she didn’t care about. She saw that her coworkers were all so unhappy as well.

Wallace realized that she still cared about people so she started researching how to make people happy at work. She found that you have to engage people with meaningful work and a sense of purpose. Everyone should ask themselves and find their why and make it the drive behind their sense of purpose. When we fulfill our purpose it makes us happy, and happiness is feeling a sense of community.

Photo by: Dennis Lee

We can answer that the reason we are all here so early this Saturday morning and why we volunteer with the Tzu Chi Foundation is that we have come together to be a part of something biggerto connect with each other and create relationships and communities that refuels and empowers us to go out and transform the world.

Wallace added that, “This organization [Tzu Chi], more than any other organization I probably know of, is a source of contribution to others. And it’s not just rice, shoes, beds, blankets that you are contributing each and everyday; you all are giving kindness, love, joy and hope.”

To answer why she is here today on a Saturday morning, Wallace said, “Being in the space with you, being connected to you, being a contribution to you fills me with a sense of purpose and makes me very, very happy.”