Nicolae Tanase: Jeffrey, what is the meaning of life?
Jeffrey Hollender: After the better part of 61 years, thousands of books, decades of therapy, and dozens of mentors and teachers – what I know is that I have only part of the answer to this essential question. The answer seems to be a process of becoming rather than being.
I do repeatedly ask myself questions about the meaning of life and whether I am on track, reasonable pursuing what I think I have come to understand that purpose to be. I have asked myself those questions, or versions of them, some thousands of times, perhaps even tens of thousands of times.
I work at reflecting on the evolution and iterations of answers. I am most often stuck between what feels like polar opposites. From my meditation discipline I attempt to allow myself to be more present, spontaneous, and less purposeful. To look out the window, watch the sunrise, scratch Jack’s (my dog) belly, smile into the faces of strangers, breathe deeply.
Then I investigate how likely, through my business endeavors, will I influence the flow and direction, the ultimate trajectory of the future of business. My goal is to create a more just and sustainable world, a world of greater wellbeing and the fulfillment of human potential. Is this pursuit where my gifts will manifest? Is this my acupuncture point in and on the universe? Will I, through this window of opportunity, actualize my potential, best leverage my purpose to offer that which the universe most needs and I am uniquely able to provide.
Then I realize, as I gaze out the window into the magnificent early morning sunlight, that of course, it is not an either – or – question. Both of the above. Business and being purposelessly in the present. I knew that. How much of life do we spend remembering what we already know?
There is a sense of relief. Certainty of the need to surrender to the moment is comforting.
~Jeffrey Hollender is a leading authority on corporate responsibility, sustainability and social equity. He is co-founder and former CEO of Seventh Generation, which he built into a leading natural product brand known for its authenticity, transparency, and progressive business practices. Hollender is currently the founder and CEO of Sustain Natural, that developed and markets sustainable sexual wellness products including Sustain condoms, the first US brand of condoms that is certified to be first fair trade, free of chemicals of concern and sustainably produced. He is also Adjunct Professor of sustainability and social entrepreneurship at New York University.
Hollender is also a board member and former Board Chair of the Greenpeace US; co-founder and Board Chair of the American Sustainable Business Council, a coalition of 200,000 business leaders committed to progressive public policy, and a board member Verite. He is the author of seven books.
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