18 May 2022

Do You Want To Find Meaning At Work?


Just this week I saw a screenshot of a participant in a leadership training program (not mine, haha) who was not only lying in bed during the program, but fast asleep with his camera on.

If you could have a more meaningful life without making any major changes to it, would you want that?

If so, this one’s for you.

I want everyone to find meaning in what they do for work. But for many employees, that’s a frustratingly distant dream. You might already hate your job, your company, perhaps even your boss? You might already be a disgruntled employee, planning your exit, or silently sabotaging your company’s productivity out of resentment for feeling marginalized, ignored, or even abused.

Well, if you’re going to spend half of your life everyday doing anything, I think it should be as meaningful to you as possible. Agreed? Then let’s see if there’s something we can do together to nudge your mindset in the direction of seeing your work differently, and hopefully curate some more meaning in your life.

Be Selfish
You’re probably not in your job because you are passionate about the product or service that your company delivers. That’s perfectly ok, neither is anyone else in your company. Fact is, humans have survived for the last million years by being selfish on teams. We know that the best way to get as much as we can out of life is to join a community of some kind, and try to gather resources together. Being selfish on a team is how you are getting it done for yourself. So be selfish enough to recognize the team you’re on, and value their contribution to your life.

The Company Doesn’t Exist
That’s right. There’s no “company” out there to get mad at. The company doesn’t think, doesn’t have opinions, and doesn’t want anything, ever. The company is actually just a community of people, not unlike yourself, each of whom is on their own selfish journeys, hoping that being on an economic team with you is going to get them to where they’re going too. Some people might treat you badly, but that can’t extend to your whole economic community.

It’s Just a Game
Most of the rules by which business games are played, we invented as kids, on a playground somewhere. The players agree on the rules, the rules can change if the best players agree on it, if you want to be accepted on a team you should play fairly, and if you want to win you should play well. We can be tempted to think of our work as something uber-serious or sacred, but it’s not. It’s just a social game. Follow the rules, and try to have fun by connecting with the other players on your team.

Your Boss Might Be Selfish, But Unlikely to Be Evil
Bosses get a bad rap. They’re expected to be expert managers and perfect leaders, but the reality is that they’re all disappointingly human at the end of the day. You might not like your manager but he or she is unlikely to be truly evil. They have their own selfishness, stress, and bosses to deal with as well. Instead of treating your boss like a jailor whose orders you need to follow, try to see them as a human whom you are responsible for helping. Your relationship might improve if you reframe your tasks as helping behaviour. They’re only human after all, and they need help too.

Dissatisfaction is a Best Practice for Survival
You’ll never have enough. Money, promotions, cars, gadgets, friends, territory, influence… you’ll never stop wanting more. Wanting more is how humans have survived the last million years. Those who stopped wanting, stopped having, and stopped surviving. They’re not here. Darwin sorted them our of the gene pool eons ago. All we have left are humans who want. So enjoy the wanting, and try to be grateful for what you’ve already accomplished. You’re doing great!

You Were Chosen
We don’t generally hire people based on their CVs. If we did, there’d be no need for job interviews. And no recruiter is going to interview anyone that’s not qualified. So the fact is, your CV got you the interview, but who you were in the interview got you the job. You weren’t chosen because of your qualifications, you were chosen because you are a “good fit” and a “kind of person.” You’re there because of who you are on the inside, not just what you can produce on the outside.

You’re Not a Slave, a Victim, or an Idiot
You can quit anytime you want. Of course you’ll need to bear the consequences of that, but you’re not a slave. You made a deal with an economic community of humans, all of them trying to raise kids, buy homes, and further their careers. They picked you to play on their team, and you picked them to… you’re not a victim. Every decision you’ve ever made has led you to where you are right now. And you’re not an idiot either. If there was a better, faster, more effective way for you to improve the quality of your life, you’d be doing that instead. But you’re not, you’re doing this. So be proud of yourself.
Have any of those tiny paradigms helped you to see your job differently? Remember, most people, most of the time, don’t care what we do for work nearly as much as why we’re working and who we’re working with. Try to clarify your reason for being in your job, and connect with a couple of your teammates in the game. You never know, you just might find a little more meaning at work. You don’t have to change your job, but you will have to change your mind.

Article by: Dr. Corrie Block

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