Is it possible for you to do work that matters? Are you doing work that matters?
Before we can look at whether we can do, or are doing work that matters, we need to define it.
Work that matters is work that fits your values.
It’s work that is an extension of you. It is work done with a purpose from your perspective. It’s work that is natural to your “wiring” and most of the time, fits you well.
What makes this so important to us?
Is it part of who we are that we want to do work that matters, work that contributes beyond ourselves? I believe so.
Seth Godin has said, “If there ever was a moment to follow your passion and do work that matters. This is it.” Click To Tweet
I agree, 100%. But this begs the question, How?
To build a business (your business) around your passions, values, and wiring takes… well…, work! There are two different types of work that need to happen to get to the point of doing work that matters.
Actions Will Get You There
Imagine with me for a moment. You are sitting in a canoe and you are in the middle of a lake. You are screaming and yelling, I don’t know what to do. What am I supposed to do?
You feel lost, frustrated, and confused. But when you look down there is a paddle. Too many are so focused on trying to figure out what to do, they forget they already have the tools to take action – even if that action is imperfect. You can always adjust and correct, like starting to row in the wrong way or direction.
Others know they have the tools, yet don’t use them – or know how or what direction to travel.
This is why (I’m pretty biased here) hiring a coach is so important.
That’s who Yoda is. That’s who Gandolf is. That’s who mentors are in your life. They are guides and coaches that help you to row the right way and stay that way.
Your Heart Will Get You There
I take people through a visual exercise when working on defining values. I have them imagine a big velcro heart on the wall. Stuck to the heart are words. Some are great words like smart, funny, dedicated, honest, ambitious. Others are the opposite – negative ones like stupid, ugly, liar, failure, etc.
You can’t get where you want to be if your heart is filled with negative or false beliefs.
I challenge my clients to remove these negative ones and replace them with words and values that define them, inspire them, or words which describe who they aspire to be, or inspire them.
When we do this heart work, we can lean into our values when we aren’t sure if we should say yes to the contract or the client.
If I’m doing work that matters, it will line up with my values and personality. When someone or something is like sandpaper against those values, I know this work doesn’t matter enough to pursue.
This is how we can make sure to stay on the right path. We know to row our canoe away from that situation!
Who Can Help You Get There?
An important piece in making sure you do work that matters is to find others doing work that matters to you.
In his book, The Proximity Principle, Ken Coleman says:
“To do what I want to do I have to be around the people who are doing it and the places it is happening.”
The context is surrounding yourself with people that will move you toward your dream job.
The dream job can easily be equated to doing work that matters. So here’s your challenge…
List 5 people in your life that are doing work that matters, work that inspires you, and who do it with excellence. Now, how can you get into proximity with them? Who do you know that knows them? Can you reach out to them directly?
Who Can You Help Get There?
Let’s fast forward 6-12 months. You’re doing work that matters. You’ve found that passion and joy in your work, either for the first time or again. I believe you now have an obligation and opportunity to be an example to those who are seeking like you were.
Who do you know that you can mentor? Can you employ someone that is passionate about finding purpose but hasn’t landed yet?
In my strength series in my SAGE Mindset Podcast, I talk about the third stage of growing your strengths. The third stage is about “reaching, teaching, and beaching” your strengths. Reaching is about stretching beyond your capabilities and taking risks. This inspires others. Tell people about these challenging steps you are taking. This will speak to their hearts. It will help them to see the value of doing work that matters.
Teach those around you how you got to this place of doing what matters, what you love. Don’t be afraid to share how long it took and the ups and downs along the way. Lastly, beach your strengths. Get out of the way. Sit on the beach and empower those around you to do what they are passionate about and “wired” to do.
If there was ever a stage in my work life that I launched it was when I had a boss that gave me the keys to manage and got out of my way. He still played the role of Yoda, but when he was out of the way, I saw that the work I was doing mattered.
Who can you empower?
To do work that matters do these things:
- Define your values
- Pick up the oars and row.
- Find a coach or mentor to help you stay on track.
- Help others find their work and then in whatever way you can then empower them to do it.