How Can Work Become Your Greatest Relationship?
When I launched Inspired Work in 1990, I didn’t have a particularly fulfilling relationship towards work. While I was financially successful, my work wasn’t particularly rewarding or meaningful. I believe this is the norm for many of us. In fact, many parents present a black-or-white approach to family career development by suggesting we can either make a good living and not love our work or love our work and not make a reasonable income.
Let us be clear, the remnants of the industrial revolution continue to haunt our culture. After all, it was a 300-year event that created an entire way of making a living. When the revolution began in England, the wealthy, the political leaders, and the business owners needed to come up with a new recruitment pitch. It basically sounded like this, “If you come to work for us, we will give you predictability and survival.” In the modern world, we can apply just a bit of objectivity and realize that predictability and survival are mediocre standards. When we pursue these two standards, meaning, joy, fulfillment, enthusiasm, wealth, purpose, legacy, and connectedness all become superfluous needs.
By the time we designed our first curriculum, it was becoming clear that the predictability and survival model hindered all human development. One day, I was talking with a colleague when the words came tumbling out,
“Work is the biggest relationship that we have. During most of our waking hours, we are getting ready for, commuting to, being at, coming home, and recovering from work.”
The word “relationship” gave us something quite new to work with. Having a great relationship towards our work requires more than just finding a job. An ideal relationship is based on finding the work that fits us like a kid glove, the work that some of us can hardly believe we get paid to do, the work that matters to us, the work that nourishes our spirit rather than deadens the soul. Clearly, defining a role that embraces our career DNA, is a beginning.
Steve Jobs once said,
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
In our programs, this outlook has been proven thousands of times. Our participants have given me a completely unexpected level of optimism. Time and time again, I have witnessed individuals move beyond the job description to clarity on what they were put on earth to do. Today, I will be sending acknowledgment notes to hundreds of recent graduates for their courage, their willingness, and their commitment to professional happiness.
Elevating our work to a relationship also makes us willing to embrace the very life skills that are necessary to succeed in modern times. We always needed certain skills to do a unique career. But now, even sustaining a survival job requires many of the skills we used to overlook or ignore. These skills include drawing healthy attention to ourselves, building effective support systems, staying updated through regular self-inquiry, and becoming an active learner.
I have come to the conclusion that honest-to-God sustainable happiness is based on the quality of our relationship towards work, the quality of our love life, and the quality of our definition of spirituality.
When we have better work lives and better love lives, we become more invested in learning anything to fuel our progress. Often, we step away from people who will drag us down with cynicism, contempt, and failure. For example, I don’t go to my single friends for advice on my love life. It is far better to look for individuals that are succeeding in the area we want to succeed. Often, we can learn so much from these success stories. Two years ago, my partner and I were on a cruise in the Caribbean. On the first night, a couple joined us who were celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary. Towards the end of dinner, I blurted out, “The two of you are so sweet and happy together. What is the most important thing you have learned to have a successful marriage all of these years?” She looked at her husband, squeezed his hand, look at all of us and said, “Forgiveness.”
If you want an extraordinary relationship towards work, study the individuals that have that. Surround yourself with the kind of people who not only support you in having a unique career, they help you pull it together. If that requires significant change, make the change, because the outcome is worth it! When we step into the lives we are meant to have, every discomfort, failure, misstep, and discomfort is worth it. When we do that, every other relationship improves. We come home with enthusiasm and energy. We become much better role models for our children. I consistently see that when someone finds their life’s work, he or she develops the courage to take the very actions that lead to success.
Well, after all, they have found their life, that’s why.
Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work, Inc.
(C) Copyright, 2017, Inspired Work, Inc. – (All Rights Reserved)
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