"Beware the barrenness of a busy life." - Socrates
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Effective personal change rarely happens without self-inquiry. I know this is true because the early portions of our programs at Inspired Work are focused on creating such a compelling vision that participants become willing to change themselves in order to achieve it. Translating vision into reality is one of the greatest of human experiences. The journey elevates lives and orchestrates growth.
Without clearly defined personal missions, visions, and purposes, we operate in states of aimlessness and barrenness. We clock in, and we clock out.
Years ago, when I ran staffing companies, I became used to the request, "Get me another job – just like the one I hated." While that sounds harsh, consider how many of us never stop to engage in the kind of self-exploration that leads us to the lives we want.
Great leaders recognize that stakeholders become engaged when we help them access what they most want out of their work, their lives, and their careers. As we develop the skills of self-inquiry, the process becomes lighter. It is enlightening and produces environments where dreams and ambitions live in the light of transparency. We are able to support each other in pursuing the lives we want – lives that are as personalized and as clearly defined as our thumbprints. We are able to discuss our awareness and our fears of falling out of step with change. The discussions lead to solutions. When we develop that kind of clarity, we become willing to experience the discomfort associated with reinvention and change.
How do I know this?
Because I've watched participants define the lives they want to have.
I've watched unhappy parents redefine their lives and become role models to their children.
I've observed workers who were making everyone around them miserable make amends and deal with the wounds of their past.
I've watched narcissistic executives become inclusive leaders.
None of these transformations took place because a person adopted someone else's vision. They all happened when each person looked within themself and defined who they wanted to be in their relationships with work and the world around them.
Developing work environments with robust self-inquiry would have been completely out of place in the Industrial Revolution. Many old-world leaders will respond with contempt to the idea of developing self-inquiry within all of their workers.
But how on earth will we motivate workers to change and engage if we are not developing environments with shared visions? The new work world is one where leaders must explore three questions:
What is our vision?
What is your vision?
How can we get the two to work together?
David Harder is the founder of Inspired Work.