THE BLOG
11/24/2014 09:55 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

You Are More Than Your Job

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Have you had that moment where suddenly it all becomes clear why you're here and what you're meant to be doing? If you have, you're part of the .00001 percent of the world who has. Everyone else, listen up as we walk on the winding road to clarity.

Knowing who we are and how we want to be in this world, this is what makes work fun. The way we do it -- in fashion or electrical engineering or waste management -- doesn't matter as much as the awareness of self. It's centering and calming to be clear about who we are. What do I mean? Let's look at an example.

The holidays were here and everyone was taking time off. The department was a skeleton of itself. The manager learned that there would be no coverage in the print production area for a day. She freaked and yelled. And then she paused. She took a breath and remembered -- is this who she wanted to be? She walked back to the associate she had yelled at and apologized. She admitted to feeling scared about a potential need and how it would reflect poorly on her if no one were there to take care of the issue. And she admitted that the chances were slim to none. They discussed it and the associate suggested the manager call if attention was needed. Problem solved.

The manager's honesty and vulnerability shifted the situation from a heated, frenetic, and fake crisis to a meaningful connection with a quick and pain-free resolution.

We lose sight of our purpose so easily in the business world. We get distracted by deadlines and politics and egos. None of these are going away. Even if you leave your full time job and open your own shop, there are even more distractions there. Life is full of the busy work that distracts us from the point of it all. Yes, I'm going all meta on you, because what really counts is quite meta.

Who we are, who we want to be in this world, is what it's about. This may sound obvious, but it's the first thing we forget when things get hairy. We're all guilty of this; no one is immune except maybe the Dalai Lama. Pausing requires an enormous amount of self-awareness and the ability to discount voices from the past, present and future. It's ignoring the art teacher who said you'd amount nothing, the boss who says you're too nice, and the child you may have one day asking why you're not the president. It's an introspective fiesta of awareness of what makes your heart sing and why. This takes dedication, practice, and courage.

When we get caught up in the day to day drama of the office, we get distracted from what matters most -- that's when we need to pause and ask ourselves who do we want to be in this world? Go that big. Try it. Open your heart and eyes wide and ask yourself how and who you want to be - in this job, on this day, in this situation, with this person. And then knock their socks off by truly showing up.

It's this day to day, moment by moment self awareness that shifts things big time. The more we do this, the more clarity we find in our lives. The more space opens up and we see what we want to be spending our time doing. Through this practice of self-awareness in each moment, we can learn that what we really want to be doing is teaching, writing, accounting, skydiving, or who knows what. The act of opening up allows insight to enter. Opening up, or showing compassion to ourselves and others, is the fastest way to transform from a frustrated employee to a fulfilled contributor -- even in a job that is a temporary stepping stone. Because we can see the long view even as we're living in the immediate.

I can hear the skeptics: We work, we play, we die; what's to analyze? And seriously. By talking to myself I'm going to connect to my greater purpose? Um, yes. Exactly right.

If you went to work each day knowing that you are more than your job and this feeling fuels you to do good work and help others and create something bigger than what you thought you could do - would that make you happy? It can happen to you if you want it to.

You are more than your job. Make the effort to recognize that each day and you'll likely find meaning and freedom you never thought possible.