I Want My Life to Count for Something

I Want My Life to Count for Something

Posted on 25. Aug, 2011 by in 1 Leadership

Did you know we spend about 1/3 of our life at work? No kidding. When you add up all the hours between 8-5 it’s approximately 1/3 of your life, according to Gallup. In that same research, Gallup cites that up to 25% of our overall life satisfaction comes from our work. In short we spend a lot of time at work. We want a lot in return for our work.

Let’s focus on that last sentence: we want a lot in return for our work. If you think it’s money and great benefits we want you’d be right. They, however, are not tops on our list. It’s meaning and personal development.

We want work to be meaningful. We want to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty.

We want our lives to count for something.  Is it noble? Perhaps. Let me point to the opening of this post: in total we spend 1/3 of our lives working. Gulp!

Leaders, use this as a wake up call. A rallying cry to tap into this human need to make a difference. Carve out time to find out what your employees want, dream, hope for. Look for ways to help make that happen, if possible. If not, how might you encourage them?

In Linchpin one of Seth Godin’s messages that I love is that we are not cogs in a wheel:

“The system we grew up with is based on a simple formula: Do your job. Work hard, Listen to the boss. Stick it out. Be part of the system. You’ll be rewarded.”

Showing up to work just to do a job isn’t going to help the company. It isn’t going to help you make a life that counts.

As a leader, you can add meaning to the work environment. You do this through the relationships with those whom you lead and work. It’s transforming those relationships to encourage people to apply their talents. First you must know what they are.

New Era Leaders understand their employees’ passions, talents and expose them to make that 1/3 of their lives have meaning.

Graphic by Shawn Murphy

Tags: , , ,

12 Responses to “I Want My Life to Count for Something”

  1. Wayne McEvilly

    25. Aug, 2011

    Yes. Definitely. Absolutely. The recognition of these fundamentals would make such a difference. The futility of getting into the feeling that one’s life is just not ‘adding up’ is one shared by, I would speculate, the majority of those who are working for others and not in business on their own. Somehow, the restoration of our mutual regard for what might be called our humanity is a priority.
    Wayne
    and Thank you!

    Reply to this comment
    • Shawn Murphy

      25. Aug, 2011

      Wayne,
      Perfect! Humanity and business do go together. When the two are part of a company’s culture it sets them above their competition. The churn and burn of employees puts a lid on talent and solutions.
      Here’s to making humanity a priority as you say.

      Shawn

      Reply to this comment
  2. Daniel Buhr

    25. Aug, 2011

    Thank you, Shawn! This is such an important message, and you said it well.

    Reply to this comment
    • Shawn Murphy

      25. Aug, 2011

      HI Daniel,
      Good to “see” you here, as always.
      Shawn

      Reply to this comment
  3. Erin Schreyer

    25. Aug, 2011

    GREAT post, as always, Shawn!! It amazes me sometimes how people are one person at work and another at home. It must be exhausting.
    If we spend so much time at work (and we do!) then we must allow ourselves to be authentic and to hold to our values. Relationships are always paramount, regardless of where you are. And the Golden Rule works everywhere. It’s time we valued people in all places and in all circumstances. The funny thing is, companies would see the ROI they’re looking for as a result anyway…

    Thanks for your thoughtful post!
    Erin

    Reply to this comment
    • Shawn Murphy

      25. Aug, 2011

      Erin,
      I know you’re an advocate of strengths which is a vital part to this post’s topic. It’s also where a company can see the ROI. It takes trust and patience for sure.
      Always good to see you.

      Shawn

      Reply to this comment
  4. Ryan Ash

    25. Aug, 2011

    Great article, Shawn! I know all about this from personal experience! I’m currently still in a job where the leadership feels that pay should be the only motivator. If I didn’t HAVE to make money, I would much rather be at home with my family than at work! I can accomplish something meaningful, purposeful, and definitely make a difference there! I’m looking forward to when my work will provide more for me (and others) than JUST a paycheck!

    Reply to this comment
    • Shawn Murphy

      25. Aug, 2011

      Hi Ryan,
      First, thank you for stopping by and sharing your comment. Despite mounting evidence AND more companies shifting their philosophy on policies, procedures, and leadership on this topic, it does take time.
      I suspect you find ways to create or seek meaning in your work. We may not be able to control how upper management views this topic, but influence over our immediate environment is possible.

      Here’s to creating and finding meaning.
      Shawn

      Reply to this comment
  5. TheBearlady

    25. Aug, 2011

    Thank you for saying it out loud!!

    Reply to this comment
    • Shawn Murphy

      25. Aug, 2011

      It’s a message I happily discuss. And appreciation from people such as yourself only affirm the need for an ongoing conversation.

      Shawn

      Reply to this comment
  6. Ted Coine

    26. Aug, 2011

    Shawn, You nail 21st-Century business right on the head! Pay and benefits? Of course they’re important – very important! But, while we may take a job merely for pay and benefits when we’re in a pinch, that is no guarantee at all that we will give our energy, attention, focus – our passion – to our work! In order to unlock that all-important drive, the need to give of ourselves and express ourselves through our work, we NEED our work to give us meaning. …Something a paycheck will never do.

    Brilliant post. No surprise there. Don’t let up for a minute!

    Reply to this comment
    • Shawn Murphy

      26. Aug, 2011

      Hi Ted,
      I promise no letting up on this end. And it’s great comfort to know people like you are out there spreading a similar message!
      Shawn

      Reply to this comment

Leave a Reply