Mission Oriented: Focus on Your Purpose
Most people work at a job that pays the bills. Many people work at a job that makes them feel like they are contributing to a solution that people benefit from in some way, shape or form. However, very few people get to connect the work they do with a true calling and higher purpose. At Axon, the everyday work people concern themselves with has the ability to save lives.
For example, when Michael Wilson had his first baby, it triggered the need to rethink his career. He not only wanted something that would align with a higher purpose, but he also wanted something to help him actively make the world a better place for his son. He’s now the Director of Artificial Intelligence at Axon. “While challenging, the impact we can make in the world and the opportunity in front of us far exceeds anything I’ve ever been a part of.”
Aminata - a multi-passionate, driven and entrepreneurial-minded powerhouse - also founded a nonprofit in West Africa that provides academic support for girls who had few opportunities and would most likely end up as life-long load bearers at marketplaces. In addition, she even started a women’s social enterprise to provide Ghanaian women from the country’s most rural areas with skills development and job opportunities to help fund the nonprofit, and create multi-generational success paths. Now, the program graduates are accountants, teachers, business owners and other professionals with real opportunities ahead of them.
Even more impressive is that Aminata did all of this on the side while she built a full-time consulting practice. She did it because she needs that connection with her purpose - to make a contribution beyond her job. Axon, like her time with NOPD, allows her to do just that.
“Rick released the book, The End of Killing. And I really got what Axon was all about - how this work can have a powerful impact. For me, coming from a consulting background where the bottom line is always counted in dollars and cents to the bottom line being counted in life and death, that was really all I needed for the transition to public safety to make sense to me. Now I have a much more holistic experience professionally.”
Rather than being divided between a satisfying, healthy career in the private sector and her purpose-led work in the nonprofit sector, Aminata, like so many, discovered she could develop a singular focus on both by working at Axon.
Mindset: Cultivate Distraction-Free Focus
Working in the tech industry can be challenging for a variety of reasons. There are a lot of brilliant minds with great ideas and competing priorities. The work itself can be challenging. Collaborating across a global workforce has endless possibilities and endless walls to scale.
And in life, there are endless challenges as we navigate recessions, pandemics, wars, and closer to home, communities, families, personal health and more.
But when it comes to focus, it’s really up to the individual to discover and maintain the right mindset.
Aminata has her own take on how to truly show leadership and advance her career. It’s centered on keeping the focus on her purpose and what she is about; to avoid getting distracted by people with competing worldviews or agendas. Focus on doing good work, and success will follow.
“I think very early in my career I had this mindset about being a young black female professional. I wondered who would listen to me. I believed in false limits that I heard about my potential influence. Over time, I learned to stop living in ideas about other’s thoughts and to focus only on my own purpose. My father also taught me to never take no for an answer. I took that to heart and it’s given me an unstoppable drive with less useless distractions.”
Aminata realizes there will always be blocks to overcome in life, whether people, systems, or resources, regardless of race or gender. Her answer is to commit to her own value; to shift her focus and mindset away from what could close her in, to what will get her through. To avoid making someone else’s limitation her limit. She learned how to apply this next-level strength and power from the women and girls that she worked with in Africa. And it was present during her time at the New Orleans Police Department.
“There are so many messages out there and the more we buy into the wrong ones, the smaller we make ourselves. I have purpose and with that comes fortitude. My job is to remain clear about what I am here to accomplish. I need to make sure I’m bringing real value to the work that I do. I’m here to be a force multiplier for all those around me because I have surrounded myself with people who deserve the best and who are doing tremendous good for our world.”
Aminata’s final thoughts for those who are looking for ways to focus on a successful career are: