What do you do?

Postman delivering mailThis question causes me to stumble and trip over my words more times than I like to admit. I have so many answers, and they’re all true: I coach, facilitate, teach, train, consult, advise, coordinate, manage, lead, design, write.

This morning, this thought popped into my head: “I will do anything I can to help people see things from new perspectives.”

Hearing someone say, “I never thought of it that way,” excites me more than just about anything on the planet. It means there is an opening, a loosening, a letting go of a fixed idea about How Things Should Be or the way we want them to turn out. It means stepping out of certainty and into curiosity and creativity.

So that’s what I get excited about in my work with people and organizations.

I think it’s really important for each of us to redefine what we “do.” Instead of listing our tasks, job titles or functions, what if we stated our guiding principles and passions?

What is your guiding principle? What is the value that you can find in your work, no matter what you do?

For example, if you work at the post office counter, your guiding principle could be, “My goal is to make each person’s day a little brighter and give them a reason to smile.”

Guiding principles transcend the tasks, such as selling stamps or whatever it is you do, and focus on the value or the nature of how we go about our work. When we commit to caring about what we value, we maintain satisfaction in our roles even if the tasks themselves aren’t what we feel called to do in life.

And, we can change the world. There’s a lot of research that shows that just being in proximity to happy people increases your own happiness.

What if everyone you encountered in your day was living according to their guiding principles, values and passions? What if you did? You’d generate happiness and contentment in yourself, and everyone around would benefit.

As the saying goes, it’s not what we do, but how we do it that matters. And we all matter, no matter what we “do.”

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