Are We Working With Purpose?
We have all been taught to find our passion, blah blah blah.
We are to think about jobs and careers where we will be passionate and inspired.
I doubt there are a lot of people (other than the ridiculously privileged) that are worried about finding their passion or working in a job that “inspires” us.
Just look around and see all the people who are not professionals who are working with purpose and doing it well.
In case you are not feeling that way, just take a quick glance at the rest of the world (like India and Africa) and see how so many other human beings are really living.
I remember going to public washrooms in Greece and seeing the women who worked there who spent their days sloshing peoples’ waste down the drain with a water bucket. Do you think those women were worried about working in their chosen passion? I wonder. What I do know is that while they did their jobs they were working with purpose.
What about the people who carry bucket after bucket of water for tourists’ showers in India?
Yet, I am not here to talk about privilege.
I am here to talk about the luxury of doing what “inspires.”
We have been taught to do what “inspires” us.
Yet, it is my view that “finding our passion” is a privileged person’s challenge. It is a totally middle class concept that a lot of people cannot afford. It reminds of what Kelly MacLean said about candida being a rich white person problem.
I'm not rich enough to have dietary restrictions. Ever notice that you don't meet poor people with special diet needs? A gluten intolerant house cleaner? A cab driver with Candida? Candida is what I call a rich, white person problem. You know you've really made it in this world when you get Candida.
Candida is to health what “inspiration” is to motivation for the rich person.
I say give me a break. Most people are too damned busy working to earn their living rather than thinking about what “inspires” them.
While all while rich types are naval gazing, the rest of the world has gotten down to work, thank you very much.
It is a dreadful waste of human energy for people to be doing jobs where they think they are not their true calling, and then do not do them well all in the interest of thinking that their job is not meant to be because it does not “inspire” them.
The point is to do everything we do well with care, and attention. That is whether or not we are serving a burger, sweeping a floor, or making toast.
In my life as a lawyer, I have felt like my job is the avenue for the rest of my life in that it earns me my necessary income to survive.
I do my job as a lawyer to earn money so that I can live the rest of my life.
I have not thought of my job of being a lawyer as being an expression of my life. Ever.
At least I did not do so until fairly recently.
Then things developed and changed.
As I gained more experience with my job, I worried less about the fact that I was putting the hours into my day and worried more about being in service to my clients.
I realized that I did not give a S*#IT about my job anywhere near as much as I cared about how I could help my clients and get them the result they needed.
Now, not only did I want to help people, but I learned that I could actually be of assistance.
Once I experienced this, I became totally engaged in my work.
I was on my way to my office the other day. I was significantly distracted because my family was leaving town for the weekend to see extended family for an upcoming short holiday.
Let’s just say there has been a lot that has gone on in the family (and my own disillusionment over my reduced role in it) over the past year.
Although I was looking forward to seeing everyone and taking steps to getting things back to normal, I had mixed feelings. I have not seen or spoken to most of these people in, like a year. Our last conversations were really painful to boot.
My tummy was in knots. I felt anxious. My mind was going in circles.
Then I went to work.
And the magic happened.
I got totally engrossed in what I was doing while I was doing it.
I literally forgot about the pettiness of my own minor problems.
I got totally engrossed in my job and helping my clients.
I was able to set aside all my own stuff about my own little life.
And I was on fire.
Although I did not again think of my own personal life for numerous hours, what I did do, was really help some people and make a difference. I was totally engaged and working with purpose.
I have experienced that the best work happens when we are present while doing it.
So, when you are working with purpose, your life has purpose and your work has purpose. And yes, you got it, you find “inspiration.”
There is nothing more powerful and engaging for clients than authenticity. When I set aside my own thoughts, my own mental chatter and focus on my client’s needs, things just flow. I am inspired and I have passion and I have drive.
I was always working with purpose when I was a server in restaurants prior to becoming a lawyer. And now I do this in my work as a lawyer.
So, after all this time I have learned that working with purpose has made me become inspired. Really inspired.
My advice? Do what you are doing while you are doing it.
It is the true process of the tasks we do in each of our lives that will ultimately inspire us and have us working with purpose.
by Val Hemminger, the nonconforming professional
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