The secret of enjoying your work
lies in how well you know yourself.
This post is a part of my publication Work that Matters in which I talk work which forms the majority of our life. Our work is just an expression of who we are. I attempt to tell people that we need to love what we do and ultimately do what we love.
If you are trying to find pleasure in your work in the brand name of a company, the money you are making, the industry you are in, the allowances you get, or maybe appreciations for your work , I am afraid you are looking at the wrong places.
It all starts with who we are as a person—our individual attributes, which we protect subconsciously in all that we do. Imagine you are someone who is meticulous and who defy patterns. If you work in a manufacturing plant were not challenged with the level of details required in your output, would you ever be happy doing that job. I bet no money will be able to hold you there for long.
We all have our fears, responsibility, and obligations, we start working to earn our living. And once the survival is taken care of, it’s then when the real exploration starts happening. In this pursual of survival, we mostly tend to lose ourselves.
Why do we lose ourselves?
We lose ourselves because we become a product of others' opinions, judgments, and victims of situations. What you have been aspiring to do is largely a reflection of the kind of society we live in. That is the reason that people expect a sportsperson's son to become a sportsperson; they expect the musician's son to become a musician. It really becomes challenging to go against the tide and find yourself and your own passion.
Till the time everything is going well, we really don’t care. We never question what we are becoming and who we really are. It is only in the difficult times, and when things go against our will, we start reflecting on a profound question of who we really are and what we really want to do.
While I really don’t know the mechanics of answering the question “who I am” in a larger context, I came across an excellent way of identifying people based on their passion for work and their involvement in what they are doing. In his book, The Linchpin, Seth Godin argues that there primarily 4 types of people:
It’s important to understand the above 4 quadrants before we move further.
Discernment: Our ability to see things as they truly are. It’s our ability to understand that it’s not our job to change what can’t be changed.
Attachment: Attachment is when we control what the other person is thinking about us and our work. When our emotional state changes with the outcome, we are in the attachment.
Passive to Passionate (the X-axis) is our state of being.
Godin’s descriptions are a perfect way of identifying who you are in the workplace. Maybe you have lost your discerning power. Maybe you need to start looking at things the way they are.
It's quite possible that you are not enjoying your work simply because you don't know what you are passionate about. You always exhibit passive behavior in everything. You don't see opportunities in challenges. You don't find venues for expressing yourself, getting the exposure you desire. You may be passive because of various fears.
What happens once the survival is taken care of?
We start finding meaning in our work and how our work is evolving us as a person. Suppose you realize that you have become a Fundamentalist (see the above figure) in your role right now, but you aim to be the Linchpin. You want to become a linchpin. You will all that’s possible to be the linchpin and when if continuously fail in doing so, you won't’ last for long and ultimately ou will not be happy.
One final word…
Our intellect works 24X7 to protect the identities that we carry. If we believe in perfection, we bring that attribute, whether cooking or making a presentation. Therefore, it’s essential to keep as few identities as possible to eventually focus on the ones who really matter to you and your happiness.
Mostly we mistake our identity with our ideas, opinions, and emotions. Coming out of this intricate web requires us to question ourselves. We need to reflect on our work, what we enjoy, and where to invest our life so that what we do truly matter to us in the future.