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'I had always found work soul destroying, but had accepted this as the norm'

Now the idea of working for an organisation that is primarily driven by profit nauseates me, writes Ian Cumbers.

Ian Cumbers Co-founder of PurposeTown.com

I’VE ALWAYS BEEN incredibly envious of those who grow up knowing what they want to do in life. Their path seems so obvious, so easy to plan for. I’m the complete opposite, and my music collection provides the perfect example of my varied interests.

Somewhat schizophrenic, it ranges from: Dance music like The Prodigy, to the beautiful tones of Eva Cassidy. Rock band Rage Against The Machine, to the swing music of Glenn Miller. The genius of S Club 7 to… (What? They’re a good band.)

I could choose from a number of jobs

You’d think that having a wide range of interests would make things easier – I could choose from a number of jobs that would keep me happy and occupied. But actually, my plethora of interests just made things harder, and I did manage to choose the wrong path to start with.

Coming from a modest background, I was eager to pay my own way as early as possible, and the City of London pulled what was then a financially motivated kid in like a magnet.

Before I knew it, three years had passed and I was wondering how on earth had I ended up working in finance, and more importantly, how I would get out.

How could I get out?

The money was good, and I was climbing the ranks, but before I knew it three years had passed and I was wondering how on earth had I ended up working in finance, and more importantly, how could I get out.

I decided to get as far away as I could, and left home for the other side of the world… Australia. It was here that I met Marie, the woman who would go on to become my wife and mother of my children, so to say the move was life-changing would be an understatement.

Unable to quit our ‘holiday romance’, a year later I found myself in Dublin, getting a tour of a new charity Marie had started working for. Having checked them out online, I had already concluded that this suicide prevention charity was an unsophisticated, thrown-together set-up. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I was still raw from a family member attempting suicide, but this place was filled with warmth and understanding, and I knew that the image they projected online did not in any way reflect the amazing service they were offering people. This is, of course, Pieta House I’m talking about.

Telling them what to do

Flying into a passionate rant, I couldn’t stop myself from sharing with them all of the things that I thought they should be doing online.

“Your website,” I said breathlessly, “your website is like a shop window.” “Facebook… have you heard of Facebook?” “Think of the internet as a tool – it could be used to prevent suicide, too.” My mind was racing. It wouldn’t stop.

Someone in Pieta responded by handing me a grant application with the not-so-encouraging line of, “we haven’t received any government funding yet, but you’re welcome to try.”

I was determined and confident, and so spent the weekend completing the application.
The weeks waiting felt like months, but then we got the news that the NOSP (National Office of Suicide Prevention) was going to provide Pieta with a partial grant. Everything changed for me after that.

I started working for Pieta House on a part-time basis. Then full-time. I was out of bed with a spring in my step and I become completely consumed by my work. I enjoyed it. I was passionate. And I was proud. The complete opposite to my previous role.

This didn’t feel like work.

The idea of working for an organisation that’s driven by profit nauseates me

And now, some eight years later, the idea of working for an organisation that is primarily driven by profit nauseates me. I had always found work soul destroying, but had accepted this as the norm.

Now I know differently and so with this, my wife Marie and I last week launched PurposeTown.com – a website dedicated to sharing job vacancies of purpose-driven organisations, like Pieta House. We’re hoping we can help others flee the rat race and work with purpose.

Fittingly, our launch happened to coincide with Pieta House’s 10th Darkness into Light event. Remembering the initial crowds of 400 people, I can’t help but be incredibly proud to have played a tiny part in what is now a global movement to prevent suicide.

Ian Cumbers is Co-Founder of PurposeTown.com. For the chance to embark on your own personal journey of working with purpose, visit PurposeTown.com.

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About the author:

Ian Cumbers  / Co-founder of PurposeTown.com

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