Mindful Careers: Authenticity

Authenticity is the core principle of a Mindful Career.

The practice of authenticity requires you to know and develop your passions. A passion is something for which you have boundless enthusiasm. Do you know what your passions are?
People who love what they do know their passions. They don’t turn into someone else when they go to work. They have integrity and a strong sense of what their talents are. They build their careers upon a foundation of self-knowledge and devotion to developing their strengths.

People tend to spend too much energy on overcoming a weakness instead of focusing on natural abilities and preferences. This wasted effort often comes from conditioning in schools and certain corporate settings. It is unproductive to depend on an institution or employer for career development. Their primary motivations are not to help you find your true calling. In fact, they may even run counter to your best career (and personal) interests. For example, an employer may want to keep you at your assigned tasks – those tasks that you do well – even if you are ready to move on (or up) and learn something new. Passions are preferences that inspire you in life and at work. For our purpose, I have identified four types of passions or work strengths:

  • Interests are those ideas or topics that stimulate you. As you identify those topics, consider those that you know well as those you’d like to learn more about. Long-term career satisfaction is dependent upon how well and to what extent an area of interest can hold your attention. Interests include things like technology, social justice, and art.
  • Talents are skills that, when engaged in them, give you energy. Talents are skills but not all skills are talents. Simply put, talents as those skills that you long to do when you are not doing them. One way to discern the difference is to consider this: If you had a choice, you would delegate a talent to someone else? Talents include things like using your hands to fix things, writing, speaking and leading.
  • Style defines how you are at work when you are being your most authentic. How would you behave at work if you could really express yourself freely? The answer might offer clues to your soul work. Personal style includes those attributes that you bring to an organization or industry beyond your talents or skills. Style includes things like a sense of humor, empathy and vision.
  • Environment defines what you need at your workplace. Understanding what you need at work will help you find the right cultural fit. Even if all the other factors are in place, the wrong environment can make great soul work miserable. Imagine the ideal environmental qualities that make up your perfect work culture, whether you plan to create that space yourself or find it at an organization. Environmental attributes include a style of design, access to nature and levels of competitiveness.

All four aspects are vital in creating soul work that balances interests, enjoyment and challenge. To create a more authentic life, you must first know and then develop your passions. For many people, this is easier said than done. Sometimes we forget what our passions are. Sometimes we’ve outgrown old passions and need to find new ones. Alternately, we  might know exactly what we’re passionate about but, instead of incorporating these things into our lives and work, we disconnect from them and can’t find a way back. Sometimes an unexpected event forces us to reevaluate what direction we want to take in our careers.

For me, this year has been a time of reflection and readjustment around my own talents and growth. I have spent most of the last 20 years using and honing my creative, communication and coaching skills. However, new technologies and the increased number of competitors in coaching are pushing me to reassess my approach and harness all four types of my passions in new ways. I will use the rest of the year to reflect on what I have boundless enthusiasm for and to explore new partnerships that may redefine my life and work in the future.

This is probably the most difficult Bright Livelihoods principle to examine because it is the most personal. It requires us to admit to realities we’d rather not face or fully engage with ideas we’ve set aside out of fear. Authenticity can be scary – and that’s how you know you’re engaging in it! Stay tuned for exercises to help you rediscover the authentic you!

Enjoy your day, enjoy your life!

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