Good question, right?

A very thoughtful friend of mine, whose gentle nature comes with a strength that is often underestimated, asks everyone she meets this question, “What is your contribution to the world?” She is naturally curious and believes that each one of us is accountable and has a role to play, even her teenage daughter’s friends. Her belief in social justice drives her both personally and professionally.

Borrowing the idea from her, I now often ask the same question. Whether at a family dinner, during an interview, or networking at a business reception; the answers come quickly for some and not for others.

“I am a foster mother and give children a warm, safe place to call home and a family to support them.”

“I oversee the sustainability initiatives for a large food chain and work to reduce food waste and feed the hungry.”

“I work with investor groups to understand why being a good corporate citizen is both personally and economically rewarding.”

“I am a carpenter by trade, and I volunteer my time to Habitat for Humanity to build houses for the homeless.”

“I teach change to organizations who struggle with diversity and inclusion.”

“I organize communities to fight for their rights as citizens to clean air, water and food.”

“I share my wealth and time with organizations in need of financial support to better the lives of women affected by domestic abuse.”

“I take my children outside and explore the natural world.”

The good news is, there is no wrong answer.

The common denominator for those who answer without hesitation appears to be a heartfelt vision larger than themselves and the role they play in making this world a better place. No matter how large or small, it is their contribution.

So, on this Earth Week, if you don’t have time to pick up trash, plant a tree, or join a movement, just spend a few moments and ponder the question, “What is my contribution to the world?”

How would you answer? How would your organization respond?