Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Creating Value

As we continue to shift through the new realities - the economic recession, new technology, etc - it becomes apparent to me that creating value in who we are, in what we do, and in what we choose to invest ourselves and our time is key. To me, creating value is inextricably tied to creating or connecting to a deep sense of meaning. Reconnecting to a sense of meaning, a sense of purpose, and a sense of efficacy will give us that sense of stability, familiarity, and comfort that is disrupted by the increasing pace of life and economic uncertainties.

To create a sense of value in who we are, each one of us should objectively analyze our relevance to the current reality. Take stock of our skills, our attitudes, our mindsets. Are they in sync with the needs of the job I am asked to do? Are my technology skills strong enough to compete with the younger people in my environment who seem to have been born texting and googling? If not, how can I quantify the value I have and the value I place for myself on my contributions? Maybe we have work to do in this area to make ourselves more valuable and to make our contributions more relevant and sought after.

To create a sense of meaning in what we do, each of us should intuitively examine if we love it, if we find meaning in how we invest our time and effort. I often talk with people who have lost their sense of meaning in their work. I think being able to focus on the mission and big picture of the work of the organization can make the relevance of the compartmentalized work that each of us does more meaningful and more connected to a purpose that we can value and draw inspiration from. Learning to see the big picture and to value effort toward making a vision become a reality is highly motivational and inspirational.

If one can't love or connect to what we are investing our time in, then finding a way to understand our effort as a path to a different pursuit makes the current part of the journey necessary. What do I need to learn from this experience to carry with me, to put in my toolbox, for what I am working towards doing at a later time? Understanding or having a sense of trajectory of one's own life makes each experience and each encounter of potential value and meaning.

I call what I have described living more intentionally, with more strategic awareness. Many, including Ellen Langer and Jon Kabot-Zinn in their writings, refer to this as mindfulness. Developing mindfulness has taken a lot of time and effort but has increased the joy I receive from working hard and learning new things, and even dealing with difficult people and difficult situations.

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