By: Mark Guterman
I recently gave a presentation on Career Mapping to a group of college students, ages 19-21, who are doing summer internships with various organizations in and around San Francisco. They are bright, curious, motivated, and a bit overwhelmed about their prospects for finding meaningful work in their futures. The presentation spent a fair amount of time on how values figure into that calculation.
As the students began the process of identifying their values, one of the questions that came up was: “How do you deal with the frustration when your values and those of your workplace are out of whack?” Before having a chance to respond, another student followed immediately with “How about the frustration that comes up when an organization is not living up to, or even caring about, it’s professed or stated values?”
Both of these legitimate questions, as many of us know, have less than satisfying answers. I proceeded to introduce a way of thinking where each of us does our best to know and live up to our stated values while putting the values of those around us (individuals and work places) in perspective. This process of choosing, claiming, and committing to values we aspire to means that we do what we can to build those into our work lives. Many of the students realized immediately that this stance may put them at risk in certain careers and jobs, and that the gap between operating values and those that are aspirational may be large, thereby creating the potential for frustration and dissatisfaction.
When we give our best efforts to live up to our aspirational values, we will feel proud, experience a growing sense of purpose, and see that even when our work is not appreciated or understood, we have behaved rightly. It is not that our values are or will be fulfilled, but more that we stay aware of what is most important and then do what we can, when we can, to live accordingly. When we work and live this way, we experience a deep sense of meaning while at the same time seeing that the gap, the frustration, the out-of-whackness, is mere annoyance and nothing more.
MeaningfulCareers.com was created by Mark Guterman and Dan King, two guys with a shared commitment to the power of meaningful work. They help professionals find greater meaning in their careers, lead happier, more satisfying lives, and instill lasting value through their work. For more information and resources visit: http://meaningfulcareers.com.