Welcome to September, dear friends.
It is often the beginning of the school year. It made me think about how this time last year I was still sneaking into Tufts to take classes, not as a formal student but as a lifelong learner.
I wasn't ready to get a job, nor did I want to continue formal schooling.
One year after and I'm still in the same spot. Somehow I barely manage to ethically sponge off family & friends as hilariously explained in this article (it is a wonderful contrarian perspective about learning, so give yourself the pleasure to read it)
Joke aside, one thing remains true though: when life doesn't fit neatly into any existing box, we've got to make a new one.
I'm doing an Open Master - a self-designed program for those who love learning and care about big questions, yet couldn't find themselves in a proper institutions. Let me know if you are interested - we can do it together.
Anyway, for people who are transitioning to work, I'd like to share with you an important question I'm asking myself for years: What is my Work? What is my relationship with it?
It's not just about picking the right job. It's also about learning to see Work as an expression of a greater Love, and choosing to see it.
For this week's issue, let's muse on this together.
Sharing is sprouting.
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The trouble of loving what you do.]
my ongoing dilemma
A project I was involved in recently left me a bad taste. A friend asked me to help with managing a project. The vision seemed inspiring, the challenge up to my skills and interests.
The project however didn’t turn out to be as interesting as I initially thought. I had to power through it, make the best out of it while waiting for the day for it to be over soon. I have promised, and I really didn’t want to disappoint my friend.
I’m definitely not the only one with the fear of letting your team members down or damaging a potential relationship. If I fail to achieve my own goal, at least I’m the only one bearing it. But if I let other people down… Some people shine in that kind of pressure and responsibility. Not me.
This episode made me wonder about the nuances of motivation at work, especially for those freelancers like me.
Ideally, no one wants to operate out of fear. I maybe afraid of letting my team mates down, but what really motivates me is how much I love working with them for the vision we both share. The unsettling reality is that many hidden fears still play a big part even among people who get along well, and part of the real Work is to uncover and embrace these fears.
Our motivation is rarely that black and white. What the romantic notion of “Do what you love, and no single day will feel like work” misses is that while it maybe the work we think we love, in the experience of working itself, fear and love are inextricably entangled. Each motivates in its own way, which is why it is even more important to notice the subtle differences.
Whenever fear drives me to do something, I’d complete it feeling relieved but somehow cut off. “That was good, thank you, but enough. No more”. In a sense, fear uses up the irrenewable energy reservoir in me.
On the contrary, whenever I’m naturally motivated to complete something out of love, I would feel exhausted but at the same time exhilarated. It is as if a refreshing wind just swept through my inner landscape, leaving behind a few budding flowers.
The experience of doubting the work that I am supposed to love made me wonder: There must be something beyond choosing the right work, such as one that fits with our skills, aspirations and preferred environment. Something that goes much deeper than what we think is our checklist for the ideal job.
What if our work is an living entity too, in the sense that it has its own unique liveliness that continues to evolve side by side with us?
In the not-so-distant Industrial age, humans are likened to machines performing functions, so our work is necessarily seen as liveless matter, readily trapped in measurement. But as humans are transitioning into a more biological and ecological worldview, work is not only something we do, but also a being we live with and care for.
What if we can really think about work like we are a loving parent caring unconditionally for a child? What if we do it not because he will eventually grow up to be successful and pay for your retirement home (think of Passive Income, or cash-cow business here) but rather because he is your lovely and messy child?
Btw, I'm also offering a free conversation to chat with me if you feel like you are going through a trying times and need someone to accompany, clarify and keep you encouraged :-) Do reach out, please.
Quotes I'm contemplating this week
(It's nice for this feature to be back!)
On Work "All my work is a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." - Mother Teresa-
On Caring "You maybe totally irrelevant to the sunset, but the sunset matters to you. SImilar, allow the world to matter to you, even if you don't seem to matter." Peter Bregman
Lastly, a bit of humor. "Socrates likes to go to the market - he enjoys seeing what he can lives without." - Anonymous