Oct 4, 2019 • 17M

LA 082: In Search of Meaningful Work

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Dr John Kenworthy
Helping marketplace leaders #UnStuck their true potential to thrive in life and leadership to build a successful, sustainable business with collaborative, high performance teams and Joy@Work with practical, neuroscience-based AdvantEdge Guides and coaching.
Episode details

Encourage Even in the direst circumstances, people seek out their purpose in life: Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning 1 Human beings have a deep, innate desire to find meaning in their lives. We want to matter. For some, it is to leave a legacy, to put a ding in the universe, or to enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done. For others, it is about success, reputation or recognition. For many who have found their true meaning, they know it's about others and less about self. And yet for many many more, it is an unknown, idealised and unrealistic dream. Researchers have shown that meaningfulness is more important to employees than pay and rewards, promotions or even working conditions. 2 Work that is meaningful can be highly motivational, performance enhancing, satisfying and leads to greater commitment. 3 Yet, recently I was running a workshop with a group of millennials and I was unsurprised that not one of them had a clear purpose for their life, not even a career plan or really a semblance of any idea what they wanted let alone why they might have been put on this earth. My surprise was that this time, not one of them has put thought into it. Usually, one or two will tentatively raise their hands that they have some sort of idea or plan for their own future. And yet we hear so many stories that Millennials seek more from jobs than a salary. They are , apparently, greatly concerned about environmental issues, climate change, social injustice. And they want to be engaged at work- yet less than 30% are. And they seek personal life balance int heir work. So not so very different from Gen X'ers, Baby Boomers and Founding fathers. Develop I was given some pretty poor advice when I was young to pursue my passion in life. "Do what you love and you won't work another day in your life." Which is all well and good until you change your mind about what you are passionate about. Passion is self-serving, egotistical and selfish. It's for you alone. And it changes. For some people it changes over years, for others it changes in minutes. Most often, your passion tends to be associated with something you are good at doing. You love doing this. You enjoy it. I've met many an accountant who went into it in part due to parental expectations and bias, in other part that they were good at maths and liked earning and counting money. A few years later, the glisten of accounting can wear off and the feeling of something missing looms larger and larger. The dictionary can help us out here: Passion: a strong or powerful emotion This is not the same as being engaged with work: Engaged: to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons): Though you could argue that your attention would be occupied by doing something that you are passionate about. Passion is good to put fire in your belly but as Ryan Holiday points out in his book, “Ego is the Enemy, ”Passion is for the amateurs" he says, and continues with, “passion is seen in those who can tell you in great detail who they intend to become and what their success will be like.” Though they haven’t gotten there, and might not even be on the right track. Ouch! If passion is the fire, then purpose is the fuel. It is "Why" you do what you do. It's "Why" you were born, "Why" you have the gifts and talents you have. Purpose: The object toward which one strives or for which something exists; an aim or goal: the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists As you search to make your work meaningful, it aligns with your purpose (and if you are truly blessed, aligns with your passion as well.) Research at MITSloan Management Review found five qualities of Meaningful work: Self-transcendent (it's not about you!) - your work aligns with your purpose or even is your purpose. We find meaning in work when our work matters more to others than to just ourselves. Abraham Maslow's original hierarchy had "Self-transcendence" at the apex Poignant (meaning doesn't always co