“We’re hiring” signs are posted in most retailers and restaurants these days. Even white collar positions are going unfilled right now. COVID has turned our economy and our perspectives on work upside down. I believe it is time for a reformation in our perspectives on work and so do some recent academic studies.
Harvard professor Lauren Jachimosicz has published some scholarly articles criticizing the advice to “follow your passion,” showing evidence that passion is not a good indicator of job resilience or performance. So, what is a better path towards career satisfaction and resilience? Purpose – what you deeply care about.
This was no surprise to me, as I’ve always found purpose in my career path in community economic development, seeing it as a vocation rather than just a career. It helped me stick it out when the going got tough.
Let’s think about this idea of pursuing a purpose-driven career path, based on something you care deeply about. For some it may be a vocation.
Webster’s definition of vocation is a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action; especially: a divine call to religious life. Martin Luther reformed vocation’s exclusive religious use into a more enlightened priesthood of believers in the marketplace. Now vocation can be inspired with purpose and meaning beyond one’s self and towards a greater purpose or common good.
So, how do we find our purpose or vocation for ourselves to help others?
One thing that is lacking are examples of pathways for vocation and purpose. We need more apprenticeships, more mentoring by persons who have found purpose in their professions and perhaps even mastery. It’s so much better to see and follow a pathway that someone else has blazed.
We also need to find a cause worth believing and worth our dedication (notice I did not say “fighting for”).
Young people in particular, want to work in jobs and companies with a purpose and entrepreneurs and business leaders need to connect their company’s products and services to a greater good or service to others.
This pandemic has made clear that every job is important to our well-being and interconnected lives. A production and supply chain issue in one part of the world can negatively impact others around the world. It has also caused many to evaluate work and the value of it, from low-wage workers without livable wages to those who are re-evaluating remote work as it allows them more flexibility and time with family.
We need both reforms in our purpose in work and tangible changes that honor the work and workers, in both intrinsic and extrinsic ways.
My charge to you as an entrepreneur or leader is to engage in a self-evaluation of your work and your fellow workers, and to take steps towards changes you can effect. Strive to bring more common good to others through your work and together with others.