Whatever you call it, is most often, a big part of our life and identity. There is tension between who I am without my work and living out my values and purpose. I have learned to trust that when there is tension, I am on to something good.
I have to agree with Simon Sinek and his views that you only have one why, personally and professionally. You are who you are in all places and products. If you change your why in different places, you are living a lie somewhere. By knowing what you believe in and following your values, your actions will reflect your why. However, I am only speaking from my own experience and know that plenty of people do a job and find purpose elsewhere; I acknowledge a level of privilege this view has. On the other hand, I also know that far too many people fall into their work — thinking that it is separate from who they are and this can lead to unhappiness and being unwell.
I have been reading and rereading David Whyte’s book, The Three Marriages. Whyte is a poet and his writing is wonderful, which does mean it takes me twice as long to read his books. Each sentence is so beautifully crafted, I have to write it down, or find something to underline sentences with and often a paragraph sends me into an open field of swaying thoughts for 20 minutes or even days. For example, Whyte writes,
“We follow this constant internal seasonal round of living and dying throughout our lives, trying to understand what it is we need, what is coming to fruition and what we have to let go of.”
Whyte writes about love, work and self and articulates what I have been thinking in terms of the inadequate phrase, ‘the work/life balance’. He says,
“The current understanding of work-life balance is too simplistic. People find it hard to balance work with family, family with self, because it might not be a question of balance. Some other dynamic is in play, something to do with a very human attempt at happiness that does not quantify different parts of life and then set them against one another. We are collectively exhausted because of our inability to hold competing parts of ourselves together in a more integrated way.”
I love the idea that we should fall in love with work. Getting to know so many freelancers here at Tribe, I am lucky to see the wide variety of professions. People in love with adventure, the Gaelic language, the way light plays upon surfaces, or even turning their discomfort of otherness into a creative observer.
The last of the three marriages, is the marriage to self, the most difficult of the three. Whyte writes,
“This willingness to look at the transitory nature of existence [is] not pessimism but absolute realism: life is to be taken at the tilt, you do not have forever, and therefore why wait? Why wait … to become a faithful and intimate companion to that initially formidable stranger you called your self?”
Ask yourself, ‘What do we think you are worthy of?’ In life, in work, in love and to yourself? These are tough questions and not many folk are comfortable answering them honestly. How often do we wait for what we really want to do? I appreciate it is not always that simple but actually making the decision to pursue what you want, is, well at least in theory just a question away from reality. The how is another matter.
Parker Palmer writes about self,
“Afraid that our inner light will be extinguished or our inner darkness exposed, we hide our true identities from each other. In the process, we become separated from our own souls. We end up living divided lives, so far removed from the truth we hold within that we cannot know the “integrity that comes from being what you are.”
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.
by Dani Trudeau.