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Don’t Dream of a Meaningful Job — Demand It

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By Kim Shepherd, CEO
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

A meaningful job starts with culture

Part 2 in our Meaningful Work Series.  See Part 1 here

For years executives have avoided the topic of organizational culture. It’s too “squishy.” If you can’t put numbers around it, went the old school thinking, it doesn’t belong in the boardroom. Well, the times, they are a-changin’. Recently I hosted a webinar on on this topic, and more than 400 CEOs logged in. That’s the good news. But the bad news is that there are still those who don’t get this important fact: great companies start with great culture.

And great culture starts with meaning. But meaning isn’t something you chase after, it should be the very ground you walk on.

Wake up Insanely Happy — You Deserve It

Only you can know what is meaningful for you, but you should be crystal clear in that knowledge. How does it relate to your work? For example, if curing cancer is important to you, and you’re an accountant, you could join the accounting team of a pharmaceutical company working on curing cancer. But it doesn’t have to be altruistic. Some of the most successful (and satisfied) sales professionals find meaning in getting a win.

The point is this: everyone deserves to wake up insanely happy, needed, thrilled by accomplishments. If you follow Decision Toolbox’s (DT) blogs, you’ve read this before: design what you want or deal with what you get. Meaningfulness at work is not the Holy Grail, but a God-given right. It seems that people are starving for this insight, but it should be common knowledge.

Somehow we’ve accepted that it’s okay for work to be a drudge, something we have to endure until 5 o’clock, when we can have fun. When did it become okay to settle for a mediocre job at a mediocre company? 

Invert Your Pyramid

Design what you want or deal with what you get

How do you identify what is meaningful? The inverted pyramid. For anything you do, invest time upfront (the broad based of the pyramid) to clarify your goals and priorities. Then spend time going after those goals (the thinner midsection of the pyramid) and pretty soon you’ll be at the focused point: achieving those goals. Many people skip the upfront investment — they rush past the pointy end and then waste time at the broad base trying to figure out and fix what went wrong.

Abe Lincoln said it well: “If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe.” You can apply this to design what you want in all areas of your life, from taking out the garbage to helping your child choose a college.

What I Really, Really Want

“A” leaders won’t get “A” players just by offering the highest pay, the shortest commute or the coolest water cooler. Instead, they’ll attract them by allowing employees the space to incorporate their personal and professional lives into one cohesive, meaning-driven life.

Gen Y (the Millennials) gets this. We should take a lesson from them. They watched their parents struggle on a teeter-totter with “work” at one end and “life” at the other. But Gen Y has figured out that it’s not about work/life balance but about life balance. That balance includes meaningfulness. They don’t dream of meaningful work, they demand it.

work-life balance

I’ll leave you with fun and insightful activity. Make a list of 10 ways to complete this sentence: “When my life at work is ideal, I am ________.” Use action verbs . . . what are you doing when work has the most meaning? My list had things like “empowering DT team members to be the best they can be in a safe environment,”  “Free to chair non-profit boards,” and “Enjoying the freedom to incorporate me-time into every day.” Feel free to share some of your in the comments, section, below.

And check back for another installment in this series on meaningfulness at work, by another member of Decision Toolbox’s leadership team.

Connect with Kim on Twitter and LinkedIn.

To learn more about Decision Toolbox, please contact us – we’d love to hear from you!

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Inside the Box will share the secrets of life long happiness….not really, but we will provide you with some great talent acquisition articles and tips that will hopefully make your working life better. You’ll also get the inside scoop on DT.

One Response to “Don’t Dream of a Meaningful Job — Demand It”

  1. May 14, 2014 at 7:47 am, Meaningfulness at Work: A Personal Journey | DecisionToolbox said:

    […] of the Meaningfulness Galaxy Meaningfulness at Work: Find Your Sense of Purpose, Love Your Work Don’t Dream of a Meaningful Job — Demand It Meaningful Work: Change Your Attitude or Change Your […]


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