Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Getting out of the Funk!

How did I ever get out of the funk you might ask? Well, I happened on a flier, which announced a weekend workshop for adults in career transition. At the time, it was a stretch for me. I decided to go and invest in myself, which in my mind is one of the most important things we can do – invest in ourselves. I went for the weekend and took a series of assessments, which revealed information about my mission, competencies, and style. That weekend gave me a tremendous amount of clarity. Along with the assessments, there were two other important components of the weekend, the pace and the space in which we worked. At the time they seemed minor, but now I realize both were major.

Living stress filled lives

I don’t know about you, but I live a fairly hectic life with a lot of “things” and responsibilities demanding my attention. The pace of change coupled with the need to quickly respond and adapt to new demands is often a source of stress. There is often precious little time to truly replenish and renew. I have found that without adequate time to replenish and renew it is much easier to descend into a negative space, creating an environment ripe for base-level emotions to take over. I know that I never make the best decisions from a negative and/or base-level emotional state. I also know that when I observe clients and friends do the same, the results are less than positive.

Ask yourself a few questions: Do you get regular exercise and a full night’s sleep? Do you eat foods that support the demands placed on your body? Most of us don’t and we pay the price, because our emotional and mental states from which we make daily decisions are in a compromised condition. Now compound that by holding a job and/or being in a corporate environment that depletes your energy. All combined makes for a potent cocktail of negativity, therefore, making it necessary for us to invest in things that support a positive state of mind and well-being.

Time for personal exploration

The design for the weekend was supportive. The space and surrounding were inviting. The pace was perfect – not too slow – not too fast. The fact that I spent an entire weekend delving into what I wanted – well, it was something that until that time I had never done. I had the time to think about it without pressure, with adequate time to contemplate the gifts I had to offer (and my strengths). There was time to reflect about where I had been in the past with my career, where I was at that time, and to explore opportunities of where I might go in the future. Being in a setting that was supportive and surroundings that were aesthetically pleasing made the experience all the more helpful. It helped to clear away the cobweb of negativity that had engulfed me.

Wow that was fast

Shortly after that weekend, an amazing thing happened. My boss approached asking if I would be interested in redeployment within the organization. I could not believe it, because the position presented was exactly what had been revealed through the assessments I had taken. I realized that by investing in myself that weekend, I was in a better position to “recognize” the opportunity when it presented itself. Had I not gone that weekend I think I would have been too blinded to see the job presented as an opportunity, because I had way too many negative associations.

I also believed that gaining clarity allowed space to set an intention about finding a position better suited to my strengths, mission, values, and work style. Although my employer had not spent the money for the weekend, in fact, they didn’t even know about it, there was an experience as if some type of silent transmission had been made. It was a bit eerie, to be honest. Thankfully my employer recognized that redeployment was a good option all the way around, and I went on to be a much more productive employee and provided greater value to the organization when I was rightly deployed!

The importance of coming from a place of power
Every situation is different and maybe yours will not be resolved in the same way as mine. You may even feel a bit skeptical that your situation can be resolved. However, if you are in a less than ideal job it is important to realize that you are not trapped even when you might feel that you are. Looking back I now realize that I was not truly trapped, but initially unable to reach a higher level of thinking required to make a change. The fact that I “felt” that way only served to further reinforce the situation.

Feeling trapped is a “fear based” concept, and more importantly it only serves to create a negative mental decision-making environment. It was not until I could gain distance from fear, doubt, and uncertainty that I could see the situation from a truth-based perspective. Who ever said the truth will set you free knew what they were talking about! Rising above the appearance of the situation to look at it from a truth perspective, which was that I was wrongly deployed, created a mental environment where I could come from a place of strength rather than weakness.

What do you need?

If you are in a less than ideal work situation, a key component is to not wait until you are in a depleted, fearful, and negative state of mind to make decisions about your future (and now). Ask you self a few questions: What do you need to do to support yourself now? What is your mental, emotional, and physical state? Are you taking care of your mental and physical health? Where are things disconnecting for you on your job? Are you well matched for the corporate culture of your organization, your boss, your peers, and the key responsibilities? Are you provided with development and growth opportunities that will benefit your career? Is there a future for you where you are now? What are your strengths, mission, values, and work style and more importantly do they match your current job situation?

Is work a spiritual idea?
Do you think work is a spiritual idea? For me, truthfully I think it can be, because I know that when I am engaged in activities where I feel that I am giving from all the best I have to offer, I feel renewed, replenished and restored. In addition, and maybe more importantly I feel in alignment with living my purpose. Now I feel nourished by my work and that for me that is an amazingly rewarding experience and on some level that feels very spiritual to me.

So, if the idea resonates with you that work can be a spiritual experience, what do you need in order to create that for yourself?

What role can employers play?

Since I have a personal belief that there is a shared responsibility (at the individual and the employer level), a big question is how can organizations evolve into seeing the need to rightly deploy staff as important component to the employment “contract”? We have at least scratched the surface on taking self-responsibility for your career.

Tune in next week to hear about things employers can do…….

Photo Credit: Flickr Rhett Maxwell

Monday, April 19, 2010

Is Work a Spiritual Experience?

Under-utilized, wrongly deployed
Have you ever had a job you hated – one that just thinking about made you feel as if your life’s energy was drained? A job where you absolutely dreaded the thought of having to go to work? Once in my life - I did. On Sundays I would dread the inevitable Monday. While at work when I would go to the bathroom, the thought of going back to my desk sent me into a funk. It was a horrible feeling and at times, overwhelming. And to further complicate matters I felt trapped (whether real or imagined). Almost every day at work I felt heaviness right down to my core, coupled with an overwhelming sense of sadness. I felt under utilized or at the very least wrongly utilized. I was engaged with activities that drained, rather than replenished me. This was a new experience for me, because I had always loved work and found all other jobs both interesting and fun.

More importantly, I had always experienced a sense of satisfaction coupled with a feeling of contribution from previous jobs – no matter what position I held. If a day was long it did not matter, because the day usually flew by. However, on this job each day felt like an eternity – no matter what task I engaged in. It was a “soul killing” experience. This made me wonder - is work or can work be a spiritual experience?

What does spiritual work mean?
Maybe it’s important to make the distinction here that I am not using the word spiritual in a religious context, but rather as a conceptual meaning. For example, spiritual as in a experiencing a deep fulfillment and satisfaction from work – expressing and experiencing a balance of giving and receiving that transcends a “work for hire” feeling/attitude. I’m not the only person, who has a deep desire to know that my work contributes positively to the world in some way. Almost everyone I have met professionally has a deep desire to make a difference in the world through the work they do.

So what prompts an interest in this now, when my own personal experience is long past? Many people I speak with now are unhappy with their job and/or their organization – almost an unprecedented number, which on one hand is alarming. However, what is more alarming is that many of the people I speak with are immobilized and are making the decision to stay put rather than explore other options because of the current economic climate. Furthermore, many of them are paying a high cost for their decision to the extent that it is affecting their happiness, health, and overall quality of life. Some of them look like the walking dead.

High cost to employer and employee
There is a transactional cost when there is such a profound sense of dissatisfaction with one’s job because we spend so much time at work and most of us place a high value on positive contribution. So what is the transactional cost in holding a job, where you don’t feel a sense of happiness, fulfillment, and contribution? What is the transactional cost when you feel under-utilized and/or wrongly deployed? The reality is that there is a transactional cost on both ends – for the employee and the employer. Employers do not always have the luxury of building positions and tasks solely around people’s strengths. That being said there are things companies can do (but that is for another blog). For now I’d like to explore the personal cost and potential options for an individual, because if work is a spiritual idea/experience then it is important to feed and nourish your soul.

Although this is not meant to be a full-blown blog of all the things that you can do, but an avenue to explore options as well as to share what I did when I faced the same situation. Hopefully this will prompt ideas for you, if you find yourself in the same and/or a similar circumstance.

Personal Imact
As I mentioned previously some of the people I know have had their health and well-being negatively affected and experience high levels of stress while in jobs where there is a mismatch. It’s important to say that there are multiple levels of fit, and some dimensions are more impactful than others. When discussing work many people have shared with me their need to be employed with work that “feeds their soul”, but find themselves in “soul killing” jobs. For me, holding a “soul-killing” job spilled into my personal life – creating tension and overall dissatisfaction not to mention an overwhelming feeling of physical exhaustion and stress. For my employer, well, they probably did not get the best I had to offer, and it is hard to believe it did not affect my productivity.

Next Week: How I got out of this funk!


Photo Credit: Kreepz @ Flickr