Finding Your Right WorkImpact & Playing Bigger

Creating Meaningful Work

By July 14, 2010 2 Comments

It’s a tricky problem: there’s us – sacred human beings, each with a unique brilliance, with distinct strengths and gifts, and with a longing to make a particular contribution to the world.
And then there is the world, the economy – the work that needs (or “needs,” I should say) to get done by people. Everything from paving the roads to doing the accounting for a small medical practice to being the doctor to sewing the dress to selling the software to…
So how do we make it match up? How we do we support the work that needs to get done, for our society to function and at the same time support each individual in finding work that utilizes their unique gifts and skills, work that is worthy of what human beings are?
I don’t know, and I’m really curious to hear what you think about these questions. Some piece of the answer, I think, lies is creating more ethical, uplifting, positive workplaces, workplaces that hold human beings as as brilliant and sacred as they are. Some piece is about each of us bringing more mindfulness and respect to our work, whatever it is.
That’s the big, collective picture. But when it comes to the individual, I know this: those of us alive in this era, in the developed world particularly, can take on a challenge, if we so choose. That challenge is finding and doing work that is our right work, that is aligned with who we are, with our values, with our strengths, with what we feel called to do during this short run on earth. That’s what I think of as our “right work.”
The rewards are great. Fulfillment. Meaning. Sustained, flowing energy. Replacing grumpiness with joy, emotional poverty with emotional generosity. Enjoyment of the thing we spend most of our time doing.
Most of the people (and they are mostly, but not all, women) who show up in my coaching practice show up with this question: what is my right work – the right work for the next chapter of my life – and how do I get it? Can I really make money doing it? Also, by the way, what do I do about the fact that I’m freakin’ scared about going after it?! The process we go through in coaching, and the process I take participants through in my e-course Doing Your Right Work, is all about answering those questions.
I’m really curious to hear in the comments: What do you think of when you hear the words “right work”? What questions do you have about “right work”?
Wishing you a day of small moments of joy and peace.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Nina says:

    The first thing that leapt to mind when was the line attributed to Dr. Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” It’s a convenient piece of advice for those of us who want to do something beneficial and useful, but aren’t particularly drawn toward becoming mechanics or farmers or doctors–and who have skills like writing or contemplating or empathizing or painting, which seem less “useful” skills than those that deliver basic material necessities.

    Still, I think it’s good advice to do what makes you come alive. As an engineering major who should have been majoring in something else, I was amazed by how many people actually enjoyed engineering, and were creative in it and engaged in it. That’s when I realized that my right work would be something that I could also be creative in. I realized that not everyone was slogging through engineering the way I was. It actually made some people come alive, and I had to do what made me come alive…because there was someone else to do what didn’t make me come alive!

  • Tara says:

    Thanks Nina! Your comment reminds me of the early days of dating my now husband, when I realized that he loved computer programming just like I loved literature. It was a revelation at the time.
    There’s this idea in your comment that I think about a lot – that we all have our part to play – and our loves and talents and passions give us clues to what that part is. We shouldn’t try to do someone else’s part! that’s when things get messy. Don’t I wish every parent knew that.

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