I have spent 40 years working for organizations like Tip Top Hair Products, IBM, Equifax and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. With each of those companies I experienced fulfillment and satisfaction to albeit to varying degrees depending on the season and circumstances of the moment. It is fair to say that most of the time the experiences were a function of my outlook and determination to make the best out of a sometimes awkward situation.
We could get into lots of questions like, “Why do we work?” and “Where do all our years of work leave us?” I will cover those in other entries on this blog. For now let’s just look at how we find fulfillment in our work.
Purpose – Rick Warren made huge progress in our society with his book “Purpose Driven Life.” Many people read that and found they could have a purpose for living. Similarly we need to think about how our life purpose plays out in our workplace. You are a unique individual who brings a unique personality and skill set to the workplace. It is important for you to go to work with purpose, a meta-purpose, if I could say that. A meta-purpose is one that is larger than just bringing home a paycheck. As important as that might be, you will, consciously or not, impact the lives of your co-workers and clients / customers. You have a decision to make. Will that impact be positive or negative?
Outlook – The way you look at life will have an influence on the way you impact others. When business challenges come across your path, how will you deal with those? When someone else doesn’t carry their load, how will you respond? Are you so self-absorbed that you see everything in your workplace as impacting you or even targeted toward making your life miserable? We have all worked with people who are argumentative and difficult to be with in meetings. Try reaching into that person’s life. Try to understand what he or she is dealing with at home. If they need help, find a way to help them. Find a way to help that person see what they are doing to themselves in the eyes of others. The workplace is a community of people who spend more time together than each does with their own families. Why can’t we help each other deal with life?
Determination – There are indeed times when the work is hard, the hours are long, and the challenges significant. Sometimes the challenges seem insurmountable. The old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” has an element of truth. Challenging times require individual determination and creativity of the team that understands the underlying fundamentals of the business and the challenge. Overcoming tough times together brings a sense of family and community. Today Super Bowl XLIV will be played. There has been a great deal of focus on the quarterbacks. The team that wins today, however, will be the one that pays attention to the fundamentals of the game and works together to make the big plays.
The following are a few truths to consider that a man named Paul outlined for the church:
- An organization or team is a unit, requiring many roles and there are many players, they are a unit.
- None of players can say of any of the other players, “I don’t need you.” They are interdependent.
- Even those who might seem weaker are indispensable and those who do less visible work are also crucial to the cause.
- If one player is hurting the whole team hurts, and when one experiences success it is to the credit of the whole team.
I believe these same principles apply in other areas of life including our work. Think about using these principles where you work and see how your sense of fulfillment changes. If you’re like the rest of us, work is a big part of your life. You can make a difference in your work life by adopting some of these foundational principles.