We all live your stories each day, alternating between lead character, supporting, and even an extra. But when we go in to work each day, what are we living in to each day? If we can be courageous enough to be vulnerable and honest away from work, are we showing the same strength while we are there?
It’s tempting to put on masks when we are around different people, we are caught up in thinking we need to be a certain way. This can be the case no matter what role we have in the company, CEO’s can be just as prone to thinking they must appear to “have it all together” as a new saleperson.
Pastor Tullian Tchividjian counsels new Pastors to get all their skeletons out of the closet as soon as possible, because it helps cultivate a community of honest sharing and trust (story taken from Catalyst podcast interview).
3 Questions to Focus Your Story
- Am I being honest in my work, and with my co-workers?
- Does my work resonate with my true self?
- Does my work point to a greater good?
The question of resonance is important, and can only be an answer you provide. Dr. Sam Glucksberg tells us that intrinsic motivation, is one of the biggest indicators of worker productivity. This resonating call of how the story of work plays in to the greater story of our lives, is essential. Since the majority of our best years are spent working, it is incredibly difficult to live a meaningful life while working in a place that doesn’t matter to you.
The rest of your life is too meaningful (both to your own happiness and that of others) to poion it through toxic work stories. Do work that resonates within your true self. You can also watch Dan Pink’s TED talk on Motivation, where he examines the effect of intrinsic motivation.
Which leads to the 3rd question, does your work point to a greater good? I believe there are two ways of looking at this.
1. You can put the responsiblity on the company, expecting them to provide a clear story and mission for the work employess are doing every day. Hopefully, they do so, and the vast majority of your work is spent in full knowledge of the impact you are making and the good you are creating.
If you are in charge of a company, church, or team, do those you’re responsible for have a clear mission and story they can live by? This is a crucial question in an economy of trust and engagement. Because if your employees don’t buy in, neither will your customers. But as a manager, it’s not entirely up to you, because…
2. Even if you work for a company that tells a powerful story, the responsibility ultimately lands on you to live your story each day. My friend Eric works at a fast food restaurant, which ranks pretty low on the scale of inspiring workplaces. However, Eric has chosen to tell a story in particular way, regardless of what those above him have failed to accomplish. Eric told me,
“Matt, every day I have the opportunity to make someone smile, or at least smile at them and let them know the day has promise. I also provide them with food, which helps them move through the day, hopefully a little bit happier”.
I think often we look to others in authority to provide us with context and meaning in our own life story. We forget to look inward, regardless of our work or circumstance, and choose the route of gratitude and greater good. Outside of everything that is swirling around us, at home and at work, we can choose to live a powerful story, and allow our actions and character to teach others to do the same (click to tweet that).
Question: Do you have any examples of living a powerful story in your work, or being caught up in a mission bigger than yourself? Please, leave your story in the comments. Thank you!
Everything I Know
I write about developing your best self, regularly delivered on Friday