When I was 12, I was fortunate enough to come across an amazing book that helped shape my life "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey. When it was available as an audio book on a cassette tape, Stephen's theories became my walking companion to and from school. Today, almost 30 years later, I have personally and professionally benefited from the habits I've learnt and his continuous mentorship from the convenience of my mobile phone's audio book app.
A few years ago, I stumbled across the realisation of what I believe "live your life's purpose" means and I have since dedicated my waking hours to help those in my professional care live theirs.
What I discovered is quite simple.
- Answering the question, "What is your life's legacy" is vital. When you are clear on what you'd like to be remembered for, you will make decisions both small and big that will fulfil you.
- Is your work and life relationship a "Win Win"? We must use our time to become the "best version of ourselves" and the work we do must contribute to a higher purpose, that is to leave the world in a "better place". This could be intentional positive contributions in your office, family or community.
So we now come to this very interesting question that few of us actively consider. “Does our work make us a better person?”
The most basic examination of work that makes you a better person is that the outcome of your work does not harm others. It is believed that you will never be truly happy by making other people unhappy.
Humans are great at self-justification and making bad things appear to be good, or blaming the weaknesses of individuals as the cause of their own suffering. Neither self-justification nor blame develops compassion and compassion is critical to helping people make choices that help show concerns for those suffering or experience a misfortune.
So what is the path to work that makes you a better person?
- The work you do improves the quality of life for your customers and/or coworkers. If your present work doesn’t, how might it?
- You are learning valued skills and gaining abilities that make you more capable of improving your lives and the lives of others.
- The quantity and pace of work that you do enable you to live a healthy, enjoyable life and be in harmony with your loved ones.
What I have seen, experienced and still see in most corporations today is that their talents are poorly deployed, poorly managed and poorly led.
A recent study by Careerbuilder.com shows that 58% of managers didn't receive management training. A Harvard Business Review survey reveals 58% of people trust strangers more than their own boss. According to the global analytics firm Gallup, only about 10% actually possess the talent to manage and lead and about 33% are terrible and actually hurt the success of the business. Global studies reveal that 79% of people who quit their jobs cite "lack of appreciation" as their reason for leaving. Recognition is the number one thing employees say their managers could give them to inspire them to produce great work. Global studies proved that when it comes to inspiring people to be their best at work, nothing else comes close - not even higher pay, promotion, autonomy or training (only 12% of employees actually leave an organisation for more money).
My discovery is simple. Your goal should be to become the best person you can imagine. Your work should offer you great opportunities to develop into a better person. The goal of work is not status, or self-definition. You are not your work.
You need to work for organisations whose primary business model drives prosperity by improving the genuine quality of life of its people and customers.
If your current job is not enabling you to become a better and happier person than you need to either change it or move on!