Your “real” work doesn’t require effort
If you’ve been with me for awhile, you already know I have a slightly different perspective of work than is conventional. Most people see work as an application of effort. While it is true that work does involve action, it does not require effort. In fact, if you find yourself efforting, it is an indicator you are not doing your real work.
Your real work does not require effort.
Earlier this summer, I stepped away from my office for ten days to housesit for friends. I was blessed with the task of caring for their cat and chickens, plus their substantial fruit and veggie garden. The garden was large enough that it took me over an hour every day just to stay on top of the berry picking – the abundance of raspberries, strawberries, tayberries, huckleberries, and blueberries seemed to multiply tenfold overnight. I’m not complaining, as I was invited to eat as many as my belly would allow. They were the most scrumptious berries that had ever kissed my tongue. It was rejuvenating to step away from my routine for a short time and immerse myself in a new environment, but just because I was on holiday doesn’t mean I stopped doing my real work.
My definition of “real” work is simply being our true selves. It is the way we show up in the world. It is more important than any other kind of work we do. But because we are so conditioned to believe that work is “the thing we do to make money”, most people are unaware of their real work.
Your real work is being your true self.
It’s important to recognize your real work for several reasons:
- It connects you with your source of energy;
- It provides a sense of fulfillment when you are being the person you came into this lifetime to be; and
- It is your legacy – the energetic imprint you leave in the world.
So then, how do you know what your real work is? One of the ways to know is to observe the impact you have on others.
Others reflect your “real” work
Are you aware of what happens in other people when they are around you? If you pay attention, you will detect a theme. Perhaps they grin ear-to-ear having tapped into their child-like sense of playfulness. Or their faces soften because they feel seen and heard. Maybe they throw their shoulders back, stand tall, and make bold decisions that allow them to live into freedom. They might clasp their hands over their heart having felt an openness and aliveness they had long forgotten was possible. If you notice a consistent affect in others, chances are you are emanating that same energy.
If you don’t notice these kinds of experiences happening in those around you, then one of two things is going on, either:
- You’re not paying attention, or
- You’re not doing your real work.
If it’s the first, then I invite you to become more curious. Survey people’s experiences for something consistent. Is there something you hear them say repeatedly about how they feel? Or do they take actions that are outside of their usual patterns? Sometimes you won’t even have to guess, people will tell you directly. Take it in, without ego. It’s not self-aggrandizing to become aware of your effect, it’s simply a fact. It happens because we humans form resonance with each other’s energetic patterning. The others are simply reflecting who you are being.
If you don’t like what you see in others, then perhaps you have gotten away from your real work. In other words, perhaps you are not being true to yourself. That’s not meant to be a judgement. I’m simply offering a way for you to self-assess if you are living in alignment with who you really are. You want to know because, at the end of the day, your real work isn’t for others – it’s for you. It’s about how you are showing up in the world as yourself, for yourself. The others are simply the mirrors that help you see who you are being.
It’s not necessary to look outside of yourself to know your real work, however, it comes from within.
Align within to your “real” work
You might think it ridiculous for me to imply you are not always being your true self and you would be right. Everyone always is. Except when they are not. After fifteen years of working with people in this way, I have learned that every person lives with a distorted perspective about who they are. Most see themselves as lacking in some form or another. (I’m not immune to this behaviour, it’s just that I see it so frequently in others that it has helped me be aware of the untruth of it in myself.) That obscured sense of self can alter our behaviour so that we become a pale imitation of ourselves. The point of identifying your real work is that it serves as a personal reminder of who you are without the distorted lens.
Your real work serves as a personal reminder of who you are.
As an example, let me go back to the person who has people “grinning ear-to-ear”. Everywhere he goes and in everything he does, he invokes in others a child-like sense of play. I know for certain that his real work in the world is to be fun. I know because I live with him. This is the direct impact he has had in my life and in the lives of everyone around him. Whenever he’s out with friends or colleagues, he’s forever sending me photos saying, “Look at their smile! That’s a genuine smile.” He’s not taking credit for this, it is just his way of celebrating that people are having a good time.
I have to remind him on a regular basis that this is his real work because he’s also susceptible to society’s limited definitions of work. He can get caught up in the grind and forget his actual blessing. Being fun is the most profound impact he can have. When being himself, he unites people in fun. He helps others feel lighter when their day-to-day is heavy. He reminds people of the joy in play. When they go home afterwards, they always have a story to tell – a really good story. And he is not efforting to do any of this, it simply happens when he shows up. To be clear, it’s not his job to make others have fun, his real work is to be fun because that’s who he is.
It’s not his job to make others have fun, his real work is to be fun.
This does require him to align to what’s true within himself. When he is being fun, it just naturally flows from him without thought. When he’s not being fun, he’s usually caught up in some story that isn’t true. It’s very human of him. We all do it.
I’m not suggesting we are all supposed to be in some idealistic state of being all the time. That would defy the human experience. What I am attempting to do is to expand our concept of “work”. To acknowledge that our significance in the world goes well beyond the activities we do to make money. You don’t have to be “at work” to be doing your “real” work, though you can be. And you most certainly do not need to be efforting to accomplish it. The more you are you, the more effortless your work becomes.