- Do I find meaning in "what" I do and is it a reflection of "who" I am?
- Do I understand my inborn abilities and am I deploying them in what I do at work?
This piece will examine the first question focusing on a subjective or inner understanding that what you do is somehow meaningful. To assess this for yourself consider this:
Is there an inner voice that keeps asking questions such as:
What are my strengths?
- What are my virtues such as our beliefs, values, and interests?
- Is what I do a reflection of this constellation that defines me?
- Is there a pathway that allows me to express my uniqueness in what I do?
- Or am I merely defined by my title and the company I work for?
- What if I could understand what drives me and how to channel that in what I do?
To discover the answers to these probative questions requires digging deep. We are never asked these questions in school because school is all about developing skill sets and is primarily performance driven. We are rarely prepared to learn from our mistakes, just fine tuned to learn how to learn what must be done to earn good grades. Unfortunately, this does not tap into critical self-inquiry to know who we are.
Narratives have the propensity to ask those questions that have depth. Self-knowledge requires asking the big questions that draw from our past experiences to identify our strengths. Self-reflection requires this inquiry to self-authenticate or become aware of something called our true self that is a mirror image of who we are. This process asks questions that causes us to go deep into the recesses of our minds asking:
- What strengths did we use when we accomplished a particular task that we are proud of?
- Who serves as role models that foster inner strengths that we have chosen to emulate?
- How did they problem-solve and re-emerge from a crisis?
- What character strengths did they use to find solutions or even restorative health/
- How are we like them?
- What is it about those strengths that we hope to develop for ourselves?
If narratives elevate an awareness of our strengths and capacity to succeed in our personal and professional lives, then these in many ways constitute our true self. Our future self is an amalgamation or combination of who we are (true self) and adopting those strengths our roles models possess. That gap in between represents what we need to strive for in order to structurally develop ourselves to bridge this disconnect.
In order to connect our strengths with what we do we need to ask ourselves does our work truly interest us or is it just a means to bringing home funds to support our lifestyle and pay bills? Interest inventories measure what other people have done and how they have done it. However, they can never assessment the meaning of that endeavor or what drives individuals to persevere in an endeavor. Self-authenticated interest themes (Holland codes) may be perfected from narratives themselves if it is done properly.
If you find that the attitude held by a mentor is contagious, then you will adopt that behavior. Why? Because it says this is how I want to live my life. So, if that individual is a “giver” and contributes as a teacher, a healer (counselor, nurse, physician etc.) to affect the lives of others that theme code evokes that you are Social.
You may also be a spirited individual that wishes to collaborate with others to tap into your creative side and start a small enterprise someday. What you extrapolated or drew from your experiences with this mentor/role model allowed you to authenticate that this attitude and behavior is what you hope to become. This theme is called enterprising and reflects an entrepreneurial part of you.
Integrating Narrative Self-knowledge with Interests
Integrating self-knowledge with authenticated interests creates confluence, a dynamic flow from your new self-understanding with an awareness of "what" truly interest you. This amplifies how, “What" I am doing reflects my character and projects a vocational identity.” When you can validate or confirm this for yourself, you will re-connect with your work on a different level with a new attitude that affects behavior and projects that "what" you do has greater meaning.
Blair Hollis M.A. GCDF BCCC
Crossroads Consulting, Inc.