“But my work is not who I am and frankly I’m not willing to put in the hours like my friends Beth and Ed for something that doesn’t represent my essence.” Sarah, a pretty thirty-something is sitting at my kitchen table, running a hand through her dark brown hair, her beautiful eyes flashing with spunk and attitude. “I’m not sure I know what my essence is, but what’s important to me are my family and my friends – relationships with people I care about. It’s OK for you, Mom, to work hard at what you do, it’s your essence”.
Hmmm. Nothing like hearing the truth from your grown daughter. Sarah’s got a point. And she got me thinking. What does finding your essence really mean?
Essence, according to my thesaurus, is your core, your heart, your fundamental nature. And many people, including my smart, wise, experienced, talented daughter get caught in the purpose trap. They think their essence needs to be a grand purpose like ending world hunger, saving the planet, helping everyone find work they love.
I don’t think so.
To start, let’s go back to your fundamental nature, your talents and gifts. What if your purpose was this: to use your gifts in ways that enhance the lives of those around you, even in small ways. When you find work and/or a work environment where you can bring those talents to bear, then you are living your essence.
Let’s get back to my beautiful spunky daughter. Her talents are many. She is:
- Quick at assessing a situation or process and developing a fresh more effective way to do it
- Skilled at writing up her ideas
- Articulate and persuasive in explaining them
- An eager learner
- Keen and insightful about what it takes to work with others
- Quick-witted and funny – but not at others’ expense
I could go on and on. I am her mother, after all.
But the fact is, if Sarah can look beyond a grand purpose and begin with finding work that puts her many gifts to use, her essence will be expressed and a grand purpose might (or might not!) follow. Either way, once she is using her many gifts, she too can say YIPPEE.
And so can you!
Take a minute and write out YOUR talents. This is no time for modesty. Hint: It’s usually those things that come easiest to you, you may not even think of them as talents.
Stuck? Ask your biggest fans what you do that’s special.
Once you have the list, ask yourself what percentage of the time you get to use your talents. If it’s high, shout YIPPEE. If it’s not, you might want to check out this video on how to love the job you have.
Let me know what you discover. Until next Tuesday.