Saturday, June 12, 2010

Jobs, skills, self-worth

Sitting with my dawn's-early-light coffee this morning, I had these thoughts about what one's work to do in the world might be, and how finding it is one of life's challenges.

Here's the thing: I have come to believe that happiness in this earthly existence has far less to do with how much stuff you accumulate or how famous you have become or how well-respected you are in your own community.

Don't get me wrong. I don't seek to slight those who are seeking one or more of those end results.

For me, though, it is all about fit, finding a place for one's passion, and a satisfaction which comes from work done well and for good purpose.

Fit? In a typical office environment--and I have worked in offices of one variety or another my entire adult life--there is a microculture which develops over time, becomes stable, and changes only at a pace barely noticeable by any individual. If you don't fit that culture, you won't be happy. It really is that simple.

We all have passions, those parts of our lives which give us the juice to get done all the other not-so-inspiring things most of us need to handle. Ideally, a job serves to allow that passion a place to come out and play. As is often said in lots of different ways, enjoying your work makes for a life which is unified. In other words, you don't have to cordon off work from the rest of your life if work is an expression of who you are and what you believe. Work isn't work if you love it.

It has taken a long time for me to appreciate it, but once our basic needs for food, clothing, and a safe, comfortable place to live have been met, the correlation between money and life satisfaction is weak and grows weaker as you move further from the basic life requirements.

Self-worth is about finding methods of expression which, at the end of the day, leave you spent and grinning. It's not about cashing a paycheck which would cause others to gasp.

Whenever someone asks me who I am, the first words out of my mouth are not about how I have made a living, but about the lives I have helped to create: my four daughters. It is a wonderful place to be, being the dad to four young women who are on the brink of their own great adventures. Heck, they have already had great adventures! It is for that reason that I look forward with great anticipation seeing their next foray into the wilds of the world.

For you who are reading this, I wish the happy smile at the end of your day. I wish you the joy of knowing someone so well that they can tell you how you are feeling before you know it yourself. I wish you the peace which comes of giving all of yourself to whatever it is you choose. Most of all, I wish you the benefit of loving who you are today. That's the magic portal to a life well-lived.

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