- Are you loving what you do at work?
- Is your work meaningful for you and does it contribute to your sense of purpose?
- Does your work inspire you to lead others well?
These are important questions for women entrepreneurs, executives, and highly skilled professionals right now, especially in light of ongoing uncertainty and conflict in today’s business environment and the workplace. This uncertainty induces inner conflict we feel when we ask ourselves, “Is this really what I want to do?” or “Do I want to continue doing this?”
This inner conflict is now widely experienced by many triggered by the pandemic and the disruption in the way we work. Hence, the surge in attention to topics about burnout, the culture of overwork, and seductive work trends like The Great Resignation. This inner conflict has been brewing for quite some time just waiting for an event to trigger global attention.
For example, this inner conflict is part-and-parcel of the self-doubt that women experience when returning to work during and after cancer treatment. If this speaks to you, read more about Thrive at Work After Cancer program.
Inner Conflict and Defining Moments
Given the environment of polarized perspectives in business and the workplace, especially for those who do not thrive in conflict (like me), how are we able to love what we do at work? And, how do we lead others so that they love their work.
I do know that for me, I needed to identify what was truly meaningful for me when I finally acknowledged a brewing inner conflict. At the height of success in my business and work, I had to be honest with myself and concede that some lucrative long-term work projects were misaligned with my values. I had to ask the hard questions:
- Had this apparent "sell-out" betrayed my soul and affected my well-being?
- What would be the consequences if I continued?
This defining moment of inner conflict, insight, and subsequent reckoning came about during my emotional recovery following cancer treatment.
I suspect that many people are asking the similar questions as they are trying to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
- What is truly meaningful work for me now? OR, how do I identify what is truly meaningful?
- How will I inspire myself to move forward and be truthful and trusting in myself?
- How will I inspire and lead others to be true to what is meaningful work for them?
Language Matters – Language is Powerful
I carry a small and precious envelope titled “little miracles” in my wallet that contains quotes that my Mom collected for me during a difficult but transformative time in my adult life. These quotes continue to remind me of what is meaningful for me. These words influence and inspire my behaviours and actions:
“Don't fight a battle if you don’t gain anything from winning.” Erwin Rommel
Although quotes relating to conflict and war are not my favourite, this quote influences and inspires my emotional decision-making process. I ask myself; “How much effort am I willing to or able to invest in this conflict?” (inner or external). “What can be gained?” (for me and others).
“Feelings are everywhere. Be gentle.” J. Masai
Enough said. This quote is my guiding star.
Language Shapes Our Reality
Language does not merely describe; it shapes our reality. Language becomes the filter through which we perceive the world.
When we talk about work that is truly meaningful, we are talking about the fundamental and essential human need for purpose. Many of my clients who continue to love their work after the age of 60 admit that their work satisfies their overarching need for purpose.
The Language of the Emotional Intelligent Leader
I am inspired by leaders who have broadened their vocabulary to include words such as, “community, meaning, service, kindness, contribution, joy, passion, vocation, and soul,” knowing these words are powerful and engaging. These leaders understand that who you are and what you stand for are as important as what you do, what projects you take on, what daily tasks you perform, and what affects the bottom-line. They understand what is truly meaningful.
Self-Inquiry: What is Meaningful for Me?
You can tap into what is truly meaningful for you by asking (and answering) three questions each day.
- What ignites my passion in today’s work? Reclaim your resources—energy, attention, and time—from the urgent to the meaningful.
- How can I bring true value to this moment? Disengage from negative emotional entanglements and engage your positive emotional intelligence skills to do your best, confront rather than avoid problems, and take constructive action.
- What would I like my legacy to be in this assignment/project? Bring more value and meaning to a seemingly onerous task.
Reframe to Find Meaning
Managing (and meeting) external responsibilities through what feel like menial and energy-draining tasks is counter-intuitive to fulfilling our inner needs and feeding our sense of purpose. When this topic comes up in my coaching conversations with women entrepreneurs, we talk about connecting with purpose by reframing a task with a bit of self-talk: “If I do this, then:”
- “I’ll be one step closer to…”
- “I will free up time for…”
- “This will enable me/us to move forward to…”
My clients also understand the importance of encouraging their leadership teams to reframe can by frequently asking and collectively answering:
- What brings meaning and community to our company?
- How can this meeting or project be an expression of our highest aims?
- What would be of service right now?
- How can this conversation be more open, clear, or authentic?
- What is our larger responsibility as a team or organization?
- How do we honour our collection of “little miracles”? Such as...
“Don't fight a battle if you don’t gain anything from winning.” Anonymous
“Feelings are everywhere. Be gentle.” J. Masai
The Key to Loving What We Do
Not everyone thrives in the face of conflict – inner or external. Instead, many prefer to avoid it and languish through the suffering. Our wisdom tells us and shows us that when managed well, diverse and often opposing ideas can foster progress and innovation. The key to loving what we do is to remain curious, open-minded, listen to our inner voice, listen to others, and be kind and gentle with our Self and others.
What do you think? Are you loving what you do at work?
- The Culture of Overwork Hurts Everyone (Quick Study) March 26, 2020 ~ Harvard Business Review
- The standard work/family narrative is an outdated excuse for what holds women back
The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It "The pandemic just put a giant spotlight on the problem." ~ Jennifer Moss. Author Talks: Why burnout is an epidemic - and what to do about it.
- Professor who predicted 'The Great Resignation' share the 3 trends that will dominate work in 2022 ~ Morgan Smith
- Receive Maestro's Encore blog in your inbox and VIP content to accelerate your emotional well-being and resilience. Start with your 90-day EQ mini plan.
- Check out the THRIVE in Work and LifeTM programs.
- Check out the online mini-course Your Building Blocks to Emotional Well-Being and Resilience.
Receive Maestro's Encore blog in your inbox with more VIP content related to this topic and accelerate your emotional well-being and resilience.
Download the latest resource to learn more about emotional and social functioning, performance, and overall sense of fulfillment and well-being.