I have not written a blog in some time…I found that if I had to censor what I could say, or if I was simply too busy, tired or focused in other directions, then my thoughts could not lead to meaningful concepts and my words could not lead to coherent thoughts. So, I took a hiatus. But now that I am not as immersed in chaos and given quite a few new followers whom I did not wish to disappoint, I am back.
When you learn, teach, when you get, give. ~ Maya Angelou
…One of my favorite quotes, and one which I have written about in a very different context than I will here. The past several months have taught me much, so I will share. Although much has been written by many on the topics of work, life, work-life balance, and giving, here’s the reality:
- Work – Work is not just work. I don’t care if you are the most lackadaisical, unmotivated person or the most driven. Yes -we work in order to [earn a salary, and therefore] live. That is empirical data shared by all humankind. However, our work in large part determines the true quality of our lives. Whether you are a barista at Starbucks, a manager of a team of employees, or a social worker – these many extreme roles illustrate that what we do impacts others. The interactions we have, the emotions we share and the lessons we leave behind occur involuntarily and impact the quality of other peoples’ lives . During these interactions, we also exchange energy. And the type of energy we exchange will dictate the quality of our own life . Simply put, in order to be happy, we must do work which has meaning to us and is not just the means to a [financial] end: work in which we do not have to settle for mediocrity, be pulled in so many different directions that we cannot find our way in any, work which does not serve to satisfy the egos of others but rather to accomplish the right and most effective outcome, work which makes a difference and inspires you to do more of it every single day. In the absence of joy and meaning in your work, the energy exchange is a vacuum which sucks energy from you leaving nothing replenishing in its place.
- Life – Life is not the fairy tale every child believes it can be. Life is neither easy nor simple but it is a gift within which is wrapped a purpose. Joy occurs not in the absence of sorrow and hardship, but often in parallel to those things. A popular concept in business, “GIGO – ‘garbage in, garbage out’ ” – applies even more directly to life. And, be not mistaken: “garbage” refers not only to eating too much junk food and not getting enough sleep (whatever “enough” equates to for you) but also to the types of people with whom you associate, the amount of energy you allow yourself to expend on them, and the principles of integrity, fairness, truth or lack thereof that you set for yourself.
- Balance – Much has been written about the fallacy that is “work-life balance”; and while literal work-life balance may not exist all of the time nor in a precise quantitative ratio, it can be striven for and achieved however you may choose to define it and how much time you choose to spend in its realm. There is no truer place where quality trumps quantity than in your moments of balance, rest and rejuvenation. PS: there is a reason that balance appears third on my list – refer back to the sections on work and life above; if your work is not meaningful to you, and if you are surrounded by others who specialize in draining your energy or undermining your purpose, balance will always, always elude you. Trust me on this one.
- Giving – The truism “give before you get” applies to so many positive and altruistic areas of life – volunteering, child-rearing, etc etc. But, if you were raised on the Golden Rule, my advice would be to UNlearn it at some point in your life, at least in an absolute sense. Doing unto others as you’d have done to you applies ONLY when the assumption that “others” have the same work-ethic, values and sense of personal growth and motivation that you do holds. And, much of the time, that assumption is flawed. There are people and situations to which you can give and give and give exponentially and who will simply require you to continue giving, refuse to do the work required to grow, and/or never appreciate what it takes from you to give. It is every adult’s responsibility to choose – strategically – those with whom they surround themselves, and carefully build meaningful relationships. Once again, quality trumps quantity. I’ve chosen to replace the ‘Golden Rule’ way of living with the “teach a man to fish” way of living – ” Give a man a fish, and he will eat a good meal. Teach that man to fish, and he will eat well forever”….and, if he chooses not to learn, well your energy remains intact to spend on someone who will.
If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. ~ Malcolm X
Wishing You Success,