Sunday, August 4, 2013

Making Work, Work

More summary notes on a book that's about to go back to the library -- Making work, work.

Although written for Highly Sensitive People in particular, I feel this book has a lot of good advice to offer anyone who has a job.  The author categorizes work into Drudgery, Craft and Calling and basically says that if you are stuck in Drudgery, you will never be happy -- so get out fast.
Drudgery is when you hate your job.  You feel like a slave.  Common elements:
1. environment:  noisy, odors, bad lighting, tight or cluttered space, long communte
2. task:  no control (e.g. restrictions on how and when work is carried out), repetitive, boring, not challenging, no sense of accomplishment
3. people:  negative attitude toward you (from boss, co-workers, clients), bullying

Prolonged work in Drudgery will ruin your health and destroy your self-confidence.  You can't be self-actualized if you are here.  Get out asap.

Calling is meca.  It's that place where work doesn't even feel like work.  You can lose yourself in it.  It's enjoyable.  It's a part of your identify.  Just typing this brings a smile to my face.  Here are some other attributes worth mentioning:

  • sense of purpose
  • feeling nourished by the work
  • self-confidence:  an ability to relate to everyone as an equal
  • able to adapt to change
  • nonthreatened
  • waking up with lots of ideas
  • sense of rightness and harmony
  • desire to do your best and eager for challenges

While I can't say that my current job is my Calling, I certainly feel strong elements of it.  Which brings me to Craft. Craft is that in-between state, not quite bliss, but not hell either -- kind of like purgatory.  Most people are probably here.

Labelling work like this helps me look at my career more objectively.  I can see where a promising job turned into Drudgery all because of a hellish boss.  I can also see where my strong commitment and tendency to please others kept me stuck rather than getting out for the sake of my health.  This is my nature though.  It's not uncommon for people in Drudgery to have a difficult time saying no.  This is essential in order to preserve your sanity.  Too often we take on more than we can handle or accept being treated without respect because we'd loathe to hurt someone else, or we avoid conflict, don't trust our own feelings or ruminate worst-case scenarios. The author provides some great advice on setting personal boundaries such as these:
  • I value myself enough to trust my feelings
  • I am capable of solving my problems
  • I have the right to have hope
  • I respect my body, feelings and thoughts
  • I have the right to say that something bothers me, right away

The best advice was simply "listen to your intuition".  I know when something is not right -- when something goes against my values.  Learning to respectfully speak up can be difficult, but it's a must.

Some other advice for bosses is worth noting for myself:
  • don't try to manipulate people with kindness (yikes)
  • listen to other's ideas -- don't dismiss them right away
  • give people the freedom to be as creative as they possibly can in doing their jobs

Learning how to recognize when your current job is Drudgery and forcing yourself to get out is critical to your happiness.  There's really no way to turn it around if all elements (environment, task, people (people is the biggest influencer) are bad.  I'm grateful to have this new perspective and also grateful that I have such a great job.

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