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Enjoying your work

Why is it so important for me to choose work that I enjoy?

Recently I have been talking with someone about why I do what I do and why it is important to enjoy it. We had been talking about whether one could ever be genuinely altruistic or whether there is always an element of self-interest in what we do for others. For my colleague, he felt there were times when one can be selfless but was aware that he worked to help others because he enjoyed it.

This got me thinking about how important it was to get some satisfaction from what I do, even though I am also clear that I work ethically, as an act of service to others. As coaches, we often talk about putting the ego on one side in the service of others. That makes big sense to me. This links up with an approach to life that I hold dear. This is where I seek as far as is possible in any moment to not get caught up in my “sweaty ego”, my small self, where I do not serve myself well. This refers to getting caught up in my old patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving where I might get stuck. I was trained to be aware of and “bracket off” any ego stuff.

Yet there is still an element of personal involvement in helping others that I think is vitally important. And it goes like this:

I think it is very important to enjoy helping others. One, it is a great activity, which I find hugely rewarding in an intrinsic way, for its own sake. When as a result someone achieves something they really want in their life, I get a buzz. Second, the act of helping is a giving of oneself, done in my case because I care. I feel strongly about it. I’ve made a big commitment to it. This is not just something ethical, and that plays a big part. It is also an opening of the heart in the cause of one’s fellow humans.

My take on this is that service to another is also service to oneself, not the “sweaty little ego”, but the true Self of all. Here I am referring to something nobler within us, not just in me but also in that person I work with. This where potentially we are one. This is where helping others is done in the purest of motives.

This is a way of living, not just in helping others. Enjoying what I do is en-joying, connecting with my own inner joy, my essence, and being present with that as I go about my life. Some call it “being centred” or “in the zone”.

Many of us have got into work to earn a living, support a family, pay a mortgage, fund a standard of living, and finance a lifestyle. Then something happens to them, some change occurs, they loose their job, they suddenly – literally sometimes – get sick of their job or the stress and then they start to question why they are doing what they are doing and wonder how they can have something different. A great start is with the question: what would you love to do?

Do you do work that doesn’t interest you, or which you’ve grown tired of. Do you want to change it for something that holds an interest for you, which you could enjoy doing, which could enable you to be who you really are?

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Where the mind goes, the energy flows

These last few days I’ve been delivering some workshops in London, which involved a short tube journey from my accommodation to the venue. The last morning I came downstairs for breakfast at the agreed time to find that the breakfast room was in darkness, with the shutters closed and nothing laid out. I waited some minutes and noticed my agitation rising. “This will delay me”, I thought. Eventually I went and called up the people in charge and got my breakfast.

Then, when I got to the tube station, the train was delayed. Again I noticed my state of mind and this time found I was thinking that the longer I waited the more the station would fill up, the more crowded the train would be and the later I would get to my destination. Eventually I got a train on another route and then found myself thinking the change I’d need to make would lead to more crowded trains and so on.

At some point in this internal dialogue I began to get a grip. “Stop”, I told myself. “My train will have plenty of room, there is plenty of time and I will get there in time. I am flowing calmly, easily and effortlessly through the mass of people”. And so it was, even to getting there 10 minutes earlier than before!

This process is one I am familiar with. I find that what I think comes about, provided my intention is clear, I sustain the intention and my on-going thoughts are supportive of that intention. And provided that I let go of being attached to it happening, eg. letting go of worrying that it won’t happen. If, by contrast I get embroiled in some negative self-talk, events follow in train with that internal conversation.

It’s not an easy process and requires will and effort to sustain. But training the mind has great benefits. What is crucial is to stop the negative flow. Almost literally to drop them. Learning to drop them takes practice, as does re-framing the thoughts so as to fufill the desired outcome.

We have that power. Studies of the brain have shown that changing thought patterns lead to the old neural pathways withering away, while new ones become established in their place. The power of the mind is hugely creative.

So what do you find happens to your mind if you let it “do its own thing”? How easy do you find it to shift your thinking into something preferable? How do you feel about changing your thinking and letting a positive energy flow through your life?