“For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.”
James C. Collins
~ author of "Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don’t”
5th August 2021
A few days ago, I had breakfast with two people who had worked at the same firm for over 30 years. The 88-year-old worked for more than 40 years at his employer – not so surprising as back in the day this was not unusual. But the 57-year-old has worked at her same employer for 35 years. I find this surprising as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (USA) in 2015 showed those born between 1957 and 1964, a segment defined as "young baby boomers", changed jobs on average, 11.7 times!
There are so many reasons to change jobs and careers, especially now when companies are more willing to work virtually. This high turnover rate presents challenges to employers. They need to find ways to improve employee engagement, increase employee well-being, and be more flexible to increase retention, lower transition costs as well as improve customer (both internal and external) satisfaction. After all, happy employees lead to happy customers!
One way of doing this is to provide meaningful work. Those born after 1980 are noted to pay more attention to aligning their careers with their values than those before them. And when they no longer align, they will move.
So, it is worthwhile for employers to pay attention to the working environment and providing meaningful work.
Taking the LEAP with you!
Liebe und Arbeit
In an interview late in his life, the psychologist Sigmund Freud was asked to expound on what he felt were the most important constituents of life. His answer? “Liebe und Arbeit.” Love and work.
This is hardly a surprise: For most of human history, the meaning of work and the meaning of life intersected at survival. Work was life.
When cheap energy and mechanization started us down the path of staggering increases in productivity, some philosophers and visionaries began speculating about how we would use the extra “leisure time” we would gain from all this productivity. The reality however has proved much different than projected.
How do we spend the “extra time?” We work.
Yet for many of us, work we would call “meaningful” remains elusive. But we can’t always pinpoint what’s missing or what it is that would give our work lives meaning.
Finding Your Genius
Ultimately, the meaning in your work isn’t whether the enterprise you own or work for is local or multinational, but how closely the work you perform within that organization is in alignment with what author Dick Richards labels “your genius.”
In his book Is Your Genius at Work? Richards uses the term to mean that unique intersection between what you are good at (your gift) and what you love to do (your passion). As he explains it, you have just one genius, it is a positive talent, and it can be described in a two-word phrase such as “Engaging the Heart,” or “Optimizing Results.” While his rules may be a little rigid, the point is well-taken: Your genius is a transitive verb, not an adjective. It’s about doing something, not being something.
Once you have identified your unique genius, the challenge becomes how to find that often-elusive intersection between your genius and that “unmet need” in the world, so that someone will pay you to work in a way that uses your genius. But by identifying and labeling your genius, Richards says, you gain in confidence and in the ability to articulate just how you can contribute in those situations. Your heart gets into alignment with your work, and suddenly work looks more like play.
The Alarm-Clock Test
This then begs the question: "What is the meaning of “meaningful?”
To answer questions like that, you can apply the Alarm-Clock Test.
A. If the alarm clock rings and you’re already out of bed getting ready for work because you are thrilled by what you’re doing and each new day is certain to provide some worthy experience, then chances are pretty good you’re somewhere near that sweet spot.
B. But if you’re failing the Alarm-Clock Test—not some of the time, but all the time—looking for a different kind of work makes sense. These days, more and more people in that situation are going back into the job market or are turning toward self-employment opportunities as the key to matching up purpose with genius. All the challenges of figuring out what to do and how best to do it come along with that change.
What Will Your Story Be?
To get a better understanding of your relationship with meaningful work, Mark Guterman, co-founder of MeaningfulCareers.com, suggests imagining a future situation in which you will be telling others your story of how work and meaning finally came together for you.
To prepare the story, he suggests reflecting on questions such as the following:
- How is your soul enriched and enlivened through your work?
- How does your work contribute to the future?
- How does your spirituality inform your work?
- For whom do you work?
- How has your relationship with work changed over the course of your life?
- What role has serendipity, coincidence, luck, etc., played in your work life?
- How have fun, play, humor, etc., been a part of meaningful work?
- Do you have a philosophy, mission, vision, etc. that guides your work life? If so, what is it and how did you come to it?
- What poetry, quotes, sayings, prayers, music, spiritual writings, pictures, photographs, paintings, etc. represent and/or guide your work life? How do they inform your work?
Finding meaningful work is often a lifelong process, as we see from Po Bronson’s What Should I Do With My Life?, which chronicles the lives of those who have found it, often later in life or after a life crisis or a very deliberate effort.
“Finding the ‘sweet spot’ is an iterative process,” Bronson explains. “You catalogue what you know to be your gifts and passions (i.e., your genius), research what is needed, and keep at it until you find an overlap. Then you see if the overlap is viable. If it is, you’re there. If not, you keep looking. This can be a lifetime process, but if we’re diligent, we can find the sweet spot.”
Identify Your Sweet Spot: If you have yet to identify your genius sweet spot (see above), take time now to determine what you are good at (your gift) and what you love to do (your passion). Remember, your genius is a transitive verb, not an adjective. It’s about doing something, not being something. For most of my clients it also involves having impact.
Then test it to see if you can pass the Alarm-Clock Test.
If you need help, book a call with me – I can bring you through a simple exercise to help you. Book your call here.
RESOURCES and more...
The Passion Test is a book I love to suggest to clients struggling to find their genius sweet spot.
The New York Times bestseller helps you discover the meaning behind your life. Identify your top five passions by taking the Test, and then learn exactly how to align your life with your priorities through an easy-to-follow step-by-step program of action. Living a full and impassioned life is not only possible, it's inevitable-- for anyone willing to take the Test and put it into consistent action.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s not always easy to take consistent action if you do not have an accountability buddy! Check out my program: Get Results without the Overwhelm here.
Join me in a one-hour complimentary strategy session to help determine how you can move forward in getting unstuck, and gain momentum to move in the right direction for you. During our session, we will go over one or two exercises and determine the one next step you can take on your own after the call to keep the momentum going. Click here to schedule your session
Renée Blasky is the Founder and CEO of The LEAP Network Ltd.
Renée discovered her business and mindset coaching super powers when she was approached by a woman looking for assistance in developing a business opportunity. She hasn’t looked back since. Coaching women fits with her passion to empower women so they live a fulfilled life and make choices from a foundation of personal power, financial freedom and a deep sense of accomplishment.
Through her own experiences, as well as coaching women entrepreneurs and women in finance, Renée understands women often undermine their confidence and self-esteem. Consequently, they jeopardize their success paths, and mental fitness. As mindset accounts for an estimated 80% of success and happiness, Renée helps her clients to understand the lies they are telling themselves, how they are sabotaging their performance, wellness and relationships and helps them to establish a new journey to thrive utilizing their superpowers.
Renée helps her clients find clarity, regain their passion, set stick-worthy goals, stay focused, create the right mindset, and be accountable. She also gently pushes her clients outside of their comfort zones and helps them face their fears so they can achieve their dreams. Renée works with her clients through various online courses, webinars, one-on-one coaching, and group coaching programs.
Renée, who trained as a life coach with Tony Robbins and Cloé Madanes, is also a certified trainer for Marci Shimoff's Happy for No Reason and Susan Jeffer's Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway courses based on their respective books of the same name. She is also in the process of getting certified in the Positive Intelligence® program to increase her client’s mental fitness.
Renée is aptly qualified to coach women entrepreneurs and women in investments having founded two of her own businesses; investment management consulting services and business coaching. She is passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion and loves multi-cultural environments, having lived abroad for 35 years with assignments in 13 countries. She obtained her Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Charter in 1990, and has over 30 years of experience in the investment/finance industry. She is listed in Marquis Who’s Who in the World and Who’s Who in Finance. She has also received various awards and recognition in the investment industry through her work with the CFA Institute and the development of capital markets in East Africa.
Learn more about Renée and The LEAP Network by visiting her website here: www.theleapnetwork.coachesconsole.com.
You can also send an email directly to Renée at email@example.com (not “.com”)