By: Kelly Janhunen

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Sep 1, 2015 | Linhart Blog

Finding meaning at work

When your alarm goes off on a Tuesday morning, and you think about the day ahead, is the need and desire to collect your paycheck the only thing that gets you out of bed?

In the New York Times SundayReview over the weekend, Barry Schwartz opines over what motivates us at work in his piece titled, “Rethinking Work.” Did Adam Smith, the father of industrial capitalism, have it all figured out in 1776 when he shared his view that “people [are] inherently lazy and [will] work only for pay”? Or, do we want something more from our 9-5? Schwartz makes the case for more, and I agree.

And, we don’t just want to be satisfied at work – delivered via perks like bagel breakfasts and flexibility – we want to be engaged at work. Engagement is what makes people go the distance in their jobs and at their workplaces. We want to know our work makes a difference. We want to connect with our teammates. We want to learn and grow. (The folks at DecisionWise, an employee engagement survey and counseling firm are the experts here; visit their blog to learn more.)

I asked a group of colleagues, professional peers and friends about what they find meaningful about their jobs, or what creates meaning for them in their jobs. I hope you feel as inspired by their responses as I did…and none of them, Mr. Adam Smith, have anything to do with pay.

“What I find most meaningful in my job is creating real, genuine connections with teammates and clients; helping people learn and grow; having the authority to help solve an interesting problem or fulfill a need that makes an impact on business goals; and working with teams that are aligned and rooted in trust and respect for each other.”

“Work is most meaningful to me when I work with clients and colleagues who bring a collaborative spirit, open mind and sense of curiosity about what’s possible to opportunities and problems we’re working on…”

“I love my job, and I love it because I realize it does make a difference. The proof for me is a culmination of all of the relationships I have built and continue to foster with former students, players and their families. I guess I never realized that the way I treated them or helped them meant as much as it did, and I don’t think they will ever know how much they all meant to me. Looking back makes me happy that I do what I do. My profession gives me the opportunity to do a ton of good in small ways for a lot of people.”

“Helping our team overcome challenges, whether it’s a client challenge or a business challenge, is what creates meaning for me.”

“What creates meaning for me in my job is achieving something as a team. I find deep satisfaction in collaborating with experts at all different levels, and once we’ve knocked out our goal, celebrating those successes. Celebrating and achieving isn’t as much fun alone; I’d much rather do it with a group of people who inspire me to be my best every single day.”


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