I’ve recently been overseas on an eight-day development and training course. I love learning new things (I’m committed to CANI – constant and never-ending improvement). And as a “High I” on the EDISC behavioural profile scale, it’s natural that I love meeting new people too. Especially if I get to spend a good chunk of time with them. When I also get to play with them and go through challenges together (ask me about the 18m tall pole I climbed up then jumped off!), it takes the relationship to a whole new level. Fast.
One of the interesting things about meeting new people is discovering how two people can view exactly the same event completely differently. And as fascinating (for me at least – am I the only one?) is how a simple change in mindset can alter how you experience your day. In fact, how you experience a major part of your life.
Let’s take work. I spend a lot of my waking hours, in common parlance, ‘at work’. Next to sleeping, it occupies the largest chunk of my 24 hours. I’d guess it probably does for you too. So getting my mindset around it right makes sense.
So the question is - do you view your job as just that – a job? Or do you view it as a career? Maybe you view it as your mission? Or maybe you have another word for it entirely.
what you call it matters
If you’re aware of the state change triad, your language is one of the keys to how you experience the world. It’s important how you language your experience to yourself and to others. And as one part of the three part process that enables you to change your emotions, in a heartbeat, it’s crucial. So it’s worth paying attention.
And Shawn Achor agrees. In his book ‘The Happiness Advantage’, he says what you call it matters.
it’s a job
Perhaps not surprisingly, people who view and language their work as a job show a marked decrease in satisfaction. And, according to research*, a marked decrease in income too. And that goes for entrepreneurs and employees alike. People who use this language tend to live for the pay check. They often look for things that are wrong. Work is a chore to them and their salary is an entitlement. They see being at work as a restriction. An imposition on their time. They spend most of their time looking forward to the time they can spend away from their job. And in doing so, miss the joy that they could get from being grateful and present. They are most likely to experience a growing dread as Sunday night wears on. To drag themselves out of bed on Monday mornings. Returning from a holiday is painful.
I’ve definitely done this one before!
it’s a career
People who view that same work as a career are more likely to be positive. More entrepreneurs live here. They will look for opportunities to ‘enhance’ or ‘further’ their career and end up being rewarded better. They view it as not just a necessity. They do it to advance themselves. To succeed. They are invested in their work and want to do well. Pay and happiness is often higher. It satisfies another one of their six human needs – growth.
it’s my calling
And people with a calling – a purpose attached to their work – are happiest of all. Entrepreneurs in this category are doing it for more than just money. It can be exactly the same work but their mindset changes everything. Work is fulfilling – the income is an added (if necessary) bonus. It’s not just because of the external reward, but helps the greater good. It draws on their personal strengths. They show pride in what they do. And as a result, they often work harder and longer. Their income and promotion opportunities are often greater. And it satisfies two of their six human needs – growth and contribution.
so, is it time to dust off the CV?
Well, it could be. But doesn't have to be. The great thing is that you don’t need to change your work to reap the benefits. Unhappy employees, CEOs and entrepreneurs can improve their work without quitting. Without needing to do an “Eat, Pray, Love” grand tour. Cleaners can see their work as a calling. And a doctor who currently sees his work as a job can change it in a heartbeat (with a corresponding increase in patient care).
Language gives rise to focus and vice versa. Let’s take two high school cleaners.
- Bob calls his work a job. His is small picture thinking. Bob focuses only on the mess he has to clean up. He begrudges every moment and every mess he has to clean up. As a result, Bob is generally grumpy. The students and teachers don’t respond well to him.
- John sees his work as a calling. He focuses on how he can make a better environment for the students. His is bigger picture thinking. A clean environment makes for happy students. Which makes for easier study. Which will lead to a great future for this and the next generation. John says he is “making a better world, one mop at a time”. He has regular interactions with the students and teachers. He enjoys his day.
No prizes for guessing which one will be happier outside of work too. Their mindset dictates their job satisfaction. Their sense of fulfilment. And that affects their relationships outside of work too.
so how can Bob change things?
Simple really - a change in mindset is all it takes. And you can do it too. You can do this yourself, as can your colleagues, employees and families.
Just ask yourself a few questions:
- What do I currently call my work?
- Is it empowering me? Is it small or big picture thinking?
- What’s really good about this that I’m not currently seeing?
- What joy can I find in what I already do?
- What can I be grateful for? What does my work enable me to do?
- What pleasure already exists in what I do?
- If I was describing my work to entice a new employee to join the staff, what elements would I highlight? What words would I use?
- Who do I help in my work? Who else am I helping, indirectly?
- Who can I help more in my work?
- What personal attributes do I already have that I’m not using in my job, but could use?
And if you know your Big Why (your purpose)
- How can my work be aligned to my Big Why?
And then pick a word you will use to language your experience to yourself and others. One that embodies all the good stuff. Think big picture.
So, over to you … how do you choose to describe your work?
PS For me, my work is my passion. I love it!
* Research conducted by A Wrzesniewski, C McCauley, P Rozin and B Schwartz (1997): Jobs, careers and callings: People’s relations to their work.