The Essence of Work — Part 7 — Ten years ago
This post is part-7 of a series of ten essays on the essence of work. For an introduction and overview of previous posts, check here.
Picture – Cirque du Soleil – Amaluna 2015 Show
This post is about the legacy of your work. It is not about your legacy. It is about the legacy of your work.
A couple of months I took some time off to reflect on my never-ending mid-life crisis that started when I was 35 ;-)
I suddenly got the shivers when I start thinking how little time I had left. I started wondering what I would do with the rest of my life.
In the better case scenario I would remain “professionally active” till I am 70. I suddenly realized I only have +/- 10 years left to get there. Luckily my coach helped me put things in perspective, sort of. She said: “Just look back at your last 10 years, and how you have progressed (or not) in that time frame. And now think how much more progress you could make in the next 10 years”.
Picture – Hindu Holy Men
When I say “professionally active”, I did not necessarily mean it as “having a job”, the whole purpose of this series on The Essence of Work.
So, what would be the essence of being “professionally active”?
Mike Kruzeniski @mkruz, Design Director at Twitter came help me with his post about Jonathan Ive’s patience.
Picture: Jonathan Ive – Hypebeast.com
Don’t just think about that one product you need to design in the next 3, 6, or 12 months. Consider the skills, relationships, and tools that you and your company will need for the next 2, 5, 7, or 10 years and start working on them now.
Don’t just measure yourself by the output of your very next project; Measure yourself by how you’re improving quality over the course of your next 10 projects.
Your job is to be the shoulders that the next generation of designers — and perhaps your future self — at your company will stand on.
I found another hint to my question in “Your Work is Your Work” by John Wenger @JohnQShift
Picture: Sochi Enlightning People Pascal Le Segretain - Getty Images
Developing greater reflection on self is about asking those deeper questions about our beliefs, values and orientations. For some, it is best done when in nature, in silence or in solitude. These are questions that get to the heart of who we are.
- What is it about the work I do that is related to the capabilities I need to grow in myself?
- How do I delude myself?
- How does my internal picture of “me” differ from how I actually am with people?
- How do I use my power?
- What kind of leader am I?
- Am I living a wonder-full life?
Developing these practices gets us a significant way towards knowing ourselves and shining a light on our real “work”.
Or more recently, Kevin Kelly in reply to a question about the kind of mindset with to approach life and work that enables you to create at high quality and velocity:
Picture – The young Kevin Kelly – Almost casted to act in Star Trek
My “work” is usually the kind of thing that also gives me deep pleasure, so I could say I also play a lot. I am a big do-it-yourself believer and I still do a lot my self, but more and more I also hire the best expert or professional I can as well. That really ups one’s productivity.
“Your job in life is to discover your job, and it usually takes your whole life to figure this out.”
This re-confirms my ever ongoing mid-life crisis and the realization that it take a whole life to search the truth and in the end probably not finding it.
It tells me not to wait for others to pick me, to praise me, to give me permission. It tells me that the whole enterprise appraisal system is completely screwed up because it measures the past and not the future potential. It only measures the output and not the input. Its measures are based on antiquated standards of maximizing efficiency, without realizing that the value creation and ethical norms of work — not jobs — have moved on to higher levels of quality and awareness.
Seth Godin was pitching recently “Don’t wait to be picked” in his keynote at Inbound 2015:
Go pick yourself. You decide. I will also talk about this in next post in this series, when we have the opportunity to be part of projects that change our lives. This way, your next 10 years will be more satisfying, as you adhere to your own norms and standards.
First published on Petervan’s blog here.