Money and Career
Happiness will be elusive as long as a man or a woman builds their self-image or their worth based on what they do and how much money they make. I read an article this weekend in The New York Times Magazine, September 2, 2012, bemoaning the fact that many men are losing their self-worth because their, “macho” jobs are going away and their wives are making more money than they are. Mind you, it’s not that they can’t find work; they just don’t want to do service jobs that they consider, “women’s work” – such as teaching. Here’s a quote from the article which is based upon a soon to be released book, “The End of Men: And the Rise of Women” (OMG, is this what really matters to us?):
“A man needs a strong macho job. He’s not going to be a schoolteacher or a legal secretary or some beauty-shop (slam on male barbers) queen. He’s got to be a man”.
Heaven help us if being a man is truly defined by a job title. How fragile. How sad.
Now here’s the big picture – evolution is striking once again. It’s interesting how we can read about how past civilizations had to evolve and go through growth pains to get to their next level. Now, in present time the current civilizations are being called to raise their consciousness and individuals are being called to use more of our true potential – to empower ourselves. To stop gauging our worth, our value as human beings based upon one gender dominating the other or one race needing to devalue another to feel good about themselves. Here’s the subtitle to the NY Times article:
“Welcome to the New Middle-class Matriarchy”
Seriously? Really? So money still defines who is in “power”? Matriarchy? Why does there need to be any kind of “archy”? I’m not for either patriarchy or matriarchy. My gender should not be what determines my level of contribution to the world. It should not determine my level of choice.
Happiness can be so fleeting for many because we have our priorities backwards. Many people connect their sense of self-worth with their career, what they “do”. What you “do” is not the same as “who you are”. Now for many this statement will sound totally confusing. “Of course”, you may think, “I am what I do”. This is because since we were young children, we were conditioned to equate what we do and have with our worth. This began the life long habit, for the majority, of comparing notes against others. Who has the most money? The largest home? The “best” husband or wife (totally subjective, of course)…who looks better? There is much truth in the adage that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Well, science would now align with this truth. In fact, we are assigning the meaning to our life and then our body and physiology follows. Our biology is our biography. In this time of turbulence in the workplace, you are in a boatload of trouble if you are too over-identified with your job or business.
“You should not confuse your career with your life.” ~Dave Barry
I surely agree. There is the essence of “you”, the conscious being, the spirit, the “Observer” in Quantum Physics, and then there is what that Being “does” or “has” which really boils down to an “experience”. It is a fleeting experience. Our feelings are experiences. All external people, places and things are experiences. They change. The only way to have a sense of inner peace and stability is to reflect on this question long enough to realize the “aha” that disconnects you from the illusion that our Self is definable by a job or by what Jane Doe thinks about you. That question is this:
“Who do you think you are?”
One thing for sure, I can tell you what I’m not…I’m not my purpose, my mission, my career, my business. I’m not defined by the roles that I play. I am more than the many parts of my self. I can experience all of this, yet I’m not defined by any of it. I can experience it without losing my Self to any of it…if I just pay attention. Understanding our brain and mind will help to separate our thought from our being. Our brain is a wonderful storyteller. Since we are making it all up, why not create the theme and storyline to include more happiness, purpose and better relationships? You can start to “in joy” your journey.
Here are 3 tips to begin to make some changes to get you there:
True potential is a challenge to uncover if you are out of touch with what is the most misrepresented and misunderstood aspects of being human – feelings. HeartMath research findings indicate that feelings (heart) are 5,000 more magnetic energy than that of thought (brain). When the mind and heart are coherent, or “on the same page”, a person is in a higher state of well-being and creativity. So, what is the passageway to more joy, meaning and worth?
Simple as that.
Simply yes, however, since the western world in particular, has built up so much resistance to feeling/emotion, it is not easy for most people to access anything but the more “negative” of feelings – the ones that repress our joy, worth and meaning. How ironic. We have created a society that disrespects the very part of ourselves that will bring us what so many are killing themselves over with excessive “doing” and “hard work”. The issue is we have a “perception” that causes us to increase exactly what we don’t want – negative, fear-based emotion and its subsequent feelings. We become attached to “wanting” to feel happy all the time (happy is not the same as joy actually, it’s situational) or to frantically avoiding feeling sad. The great number of people are also disconnected from their heart in a way that is unhealthy. Feelings are not bad or good except thinking (judgment) make it so.
“Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore avoid undue elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity” ~Socrates, 469-399 B.C.
Our culture and social institutions historically and from what I’ve observed with eyes wide-open produce:
1. Reduction in joy (Focus on lack, fear and competition)
2. Reduction in self-worth (“Who you are” is equated with “What you do or have” and that apparently is “never enough”)
3. Reduction in meaning (The focus has/had been only on “shareholder value” in business instead of a higher purpose in work for the individual).
Work and life balance is central to health, real wealth and enjoyable relationships. Gratitude and appreciation are apparently little known secret ingredients to what everyone is really seeking – inner peace, meaning and joy. Then we can “in joy” our efforts and monetary results and use money constructively and with greater purpose. “Stuff” starts to lose its meaning in general.
“Happiness” is very situational, yet joy is the “peace that passes understanding”. It is not a transient mental state; it is the essence of our “being”. We’ve just lost sight of this truth. So, why is there so much increase in disease, debt and divorce or unsatisfying relationships – at home and at work? For one thing, we have forgotten, “who we are”. We have attached our worth and identity to “stuff” that many of us don’t really want.
In fact, I’d venture to say that most people don’t really know what they want or “why” they are so busy “doing” things. It has become a national epidemic – “Doingitis” – a “dis-ease” state. Then, we don’t even feel grateful or appreciate what we accomplish or have. There are steps and processes one can take to disentangle one’s self-worth and meaning from this chronic distracted way of living. However, here I will offer one simple remedy; cultivate gratitude and appreciation. This one thing, felt with the heart and not just an intellectual exercise can:
Business success requires more than “bottom line” numbers and current market share data (this can change overnight). In fact, when we are wise enough to go beyond statistics and gauging success solely by the external value of income, the paradox is, we are likely to have more income. I was listening to a video by Tom Peters and he closed out by referring to Tony Hsieh, Zappos’ CEO and the company’s first value to “Wow the Customer”.
“It’s ok to say “WOW” and it’s OK to act “Wow” – even in business” ~Tom Peters
I think that is right on if by “wow” you mean making it an experience that engages the heart along with the product or service. It’s not just a matter of how much you know, or how good the product performs. These things are important. Yet more and more, in our frantic world, people want to feel that you care and value their patronage.
They want to know that you care (a feeling) about how they are impacted and you are engaged not just for “bottom line” or “shareholder value”. This will require some reflection on the part of leadership – in other words, the people at the helm of the company that influence the culture. I notice that people talk about “organizations” as if they are homogenous, “things” instead of consisting of individuals who carry their own individual perceptions. If the leaders have old hang ups that want to repress expression of feelings, or see EQ/social intelligence as “soft skills” (often referred to in a derogatory sort of way), they are going to be hit with a rude awakening.
It never ceases to surprise me how a person can say, “people buy with emotion and justify with logic” and then turn around and deride feelings as something that should not be given attention. Well let me inform you – research from the HeartMath Institute has pointed to the fact that emotion has 5,000 times more magnetic energy in the nervous system than thought alone. In fact, it is emotion that powerfully wires behavior and belief.
If you want to learn how to “wow” people,
you will need to learn
how to get out of your head and into your (and theirs) heart.
Happiness is a perception that is subject to how one sees life, how one interprets their circumstances. Brain research essentially shows we create our “reality” by assigning the meaning to our lives. Research shows that our ability to create and manage positive emotions is one of the foundations for success (and happiness) in business and life.
Whether or not we are happy is often not so much about what we do or how much money or associations we have as it is about the level of self-awareness we have to engage our mind and heart in our activity. While there are studies that connect happiness with better health, meaningful relationships and meaningful work – the key is “meaningful”. What does it mean to you?
Judging how materialistic our society is and how little attention is given by our educational system to develop the unique talents and interests of individuals, we still believe that happiness is outside of ourselves. We continue to “look for love in all the wrong places”. We still believe that we can “do” happiness, or “get” happiness through more “stuff”.
Business and material “success” does not necessarily make us happy. If it did, Americans should be some of the happiest people in the world. Polls have actually shown quite the contrary and we have frighteningly high rates of depression, obesity, debt and disease despite high-income levels. The answer lies in realizing that the path to happiness is an inner journey.
It’s not that having things is bad; it just that when we associate our identity with them, they have us – we get stuck.
When we can truly love and compassionately accept who we are, independently of what we “do” then we can “be” more joyful and fulfilled as we do our work in the world. The happier and more at peace that we are, the more likely we will be prosperous and healthy. Our choices are more likely to be done with clarity and with less effort and “hard work” (“hard” is mostly due to resistance, versus “flow”). When we recognize that our minds are conditioned to focus on what we fear or don’t want, we can learn to “retrain our brain” to change our focus of attention.2
Peace. I see holiday cards right now that say, “Peace” and “Joy” on them, yet I see people rushing about complaining that they are “overwhelmed”. I used to be one of them. These days, I’m giving my attention more and more to “why” I do what I do.
Have you ever stopped rushing around long enough to reflect on “why”? Do you slow down to contemplate, “Who do you think you are”?
Or are you still living by the definition that others assigned to you? Are you looking for more “to do” even though you have not mastered what is right in front of you? What are your heart-felt, five top values? Do you know? If you don’t, you are very likely not very passionate about what you do or about your life.
Like most people, you are probably just going through the motions, trying to keep from falling off the hamster wheel of life. Your mind is full of chatter and your heart is disconnected – and a “heartless mind” is no way to live. When we attach our sense of identity to things outside of our self, peace is always elusive. If we think we are our family heritage, money, fame, occupation or social status, we are always in a very precarious situation, as these things can shift overnight.
I was listening to a thought leader’s interview last night and she said she was disowned by her family for asking that her family’s assigned husband for her allow her to go to college. I’ve read articles of billionaires losing it all and then killing their whole family along with themselves – I’ve known personally millionaires who too have committed suicide after losing their money. I changed careers myself – I no longer perform eye surgery and I sold my business. Yet, what I did is not who I am. Life is full of change and unexpected events.0
Branding from your “True Essence” is the power behind authentic branding. For 21st century business success, collaboration and connection is more important than ever. Going, going – gone – are the days when a “Lone Ranger” attitude and competition thrives in the marketplace.
In order to thrive, particularly in the small business arena, one needs to come from “who you really are”. Relationship reigns. People are more intuitive now than ever before, and this is a good thing in my eyes. This is where our powerful brain can trip us up. It’s not the fault of the brain. The brain/mind nervous system is a marvel to behold. The problem is HOW we wire it.
Typically, most people come from a place of comparing themselves to others and wanting to “fit in” at all costs. This blocks our heart and comes from a place of fear and competition. This will not work well anymore. A good 95% of who we think we are and what runs our life is in our subconscious mind; our feeling nature. It limits what we think we can be, do or have for most people.
In fact, we are conditioned to come from a starting point of “doing” to “get or have” and then we think we can “be” successful. This is totally backwards. Yet it takes courage to start with “being”. We need to make the time to reflect and learn how to let go of self-limiting stories around our self-identity that hold us back from bringing our business talents and message to the world. Then we can “be real”. We can then have the powerful insights we need to come up into our awareness to create our “real” brand.
A self-aware business owner is one who has
cultivated confidence and self-acceptance from the “inside out”.
This is the way to a brand that is uniquely YOU and calls out to your ideal client.
When you “hit your pitch”, coming from your soul’s unique calling and vibe, then those you are meant to help can “see” you. This is also a practical way to integrate spiritual, emotional, mental and physical aspects of our self.2
How we lead first begins with our relationship to our “self”. In fact, everything that we do stems from this source of “mindset”. It determines our perception and how we see our self in relation to others and to the world at large. I’ve come to understand three general categories of self-identity/self-image and how each one will show up in our everyday lives in business and specifically as leaders.
Keep in mind that 95% of what runs our life is out of our awareness or “unconscious”. It can be accessed, if you understand how, yet most people are too busy “doing”. They have lost sight of the present moment and how to “be”.
Hence, most of what is possible or what they truly act out in their lives goes right over their heads; they are so busy-minded that they miss what would otherwise be obvious. So before you write off a category, be mindful that if you are not fully “self-actualized” as Maslow would say of one who is enlightened and evolved – with feet planted on the earth – there is a good chance that on some level, at least some of this applies to you.
The first category would be “Low self-image/self-esteem”. Here the identity is for example, “I am not good enough”, “I am not worthy”, “I am powerless/helpless” or “Something is wrong with me”. Keep in mind, these “stories” in our brain are often formed before age seven and they get locked into our physiology at the level of cellular memory. So, even if you are 50, you may still be carrying the thoughts and feelings that formed in early childhood based on an illogical story. Here are some ways that it can manifest in everyday business as a leader:
• Fear of risk taking – fear of innovation/change
• Perfectionism – fear of making mistakes
• A passive leader avoiding conflict – people pleasing to a fault
• Aggressive over reactive – bullying and controlling to self-protect
• Invulnerability and lack of trust – hiding behind an “intellectual” mask
The second category is one where the self-identity/self-esteem is not really intrinsically felt to be low, yet there is an excessive dependence on externals to provide sense of self-worth, security and love. “Enough is never enough”. Also, being a people pleaser is typically associated. As long as there are enough labels, awards and personal recognition, one’s self-esteem is “OK” or even feels high. This person can really be into comparing her or himself against others and against transient external values. They tend to be out of touch with their “authentic” soul gifts and talents; all that matters is achievement and recognition. The problem is, the external world is shaky and unstable. Hence, self-worth is unstable and if one loses their standing, down plummets self-identity. Of course, this is a gradient and not a one-size-fits-all range. Here’s how it shows up in business leadership:
• Often a “likeable” leader – yet not always straightforward
• Typically an “over-achiever” or “go-getter” out of balance in other areas
• Can feel easily upset if not recognized “enough”
• Insecure and has to struggle with envy of others and self-comparison – limits ability to develop others
• May create hierarchy of judging others constantly – “I’m better than, smarter than”…. – which is damaging to collaboration with others