16 Jun We do the work and the work does us
We do the work and the work does us
The idea that we do the work and the work “does” us is fundamental to RAISING CLARITY.
In this post, I explain why it’s so important, and why the people I serve are those for whom this idea is true (whether they know it or not beforehand), and who are ready to use its power.
Work is fundamental to me. Unlike some women of my generation, and unlike women of generations previous, work is how I define myself. I’m not saying this is good or bad. I’m observing that women have historically defined ourselves by relationships and men by work.
It has felt unusual that I was a woman for whom work rather than relationships was most important.
I’ve learned a lot since my early years about the importance of relationships, and why I avoided that importance. Work felt safer: school felt safer than family, and then the work-world if not always the workplace felt safer than home.
Naturally, when I came to define my coaching and consulting practice, I focused on people’s work.
I don’t coach on relationships or consult about relationships.
I coach and consult on people’s work, specifically their deepest work (often their calling), and their dreams for this world that warrant fundraising, investment, and nonprofit development.
Why is it important?
Given my bias, and the development of consciousness that is so important to me, I began observing work in depth in people’s lives. Many aspects of it are important and interesting. I focused on the impact on people’s lives.
I specifically noticed in my own life that where and when I needed to learn something cosmic, consciousness-related, it would often show up as a new job, new responsibility or new aspect of work. Often it was something I hated or resisted. Sometimes this meant I needed to knuckle under, buckle down, and learn to stop resisting.
Quite often, it meant it was time for me to change jobs.
Over time, it began to mean it was time for me to change the focus of my own work. I am in that process quite often–refining what I do and whom I do it for.
Work has the power to teach us, transform us, develop us–“do” us, in a word.
This is why it’s important to it and notice its impact on our lives. Not just our calling does this but our calling does it in spades.
People who are ready to see their work in this way are my people. I write for anyone who finds my writing useful. But these are the people I serve.
A Sufi perspective on one-half of the equation
Here is a passage from Idries Shah’s The Sufis, chapter entitled “The Philosopher’s Stone,” pages 224-25, with my italics and much excerpting on my part:
Latin is taught in some schools to develop a part of the mind. An externalist or literal observer might say that the study of Latin is one of the least useful of occupations. All depends upon his use of the word “useful.”
The Sufis have a tradition which has been maintained for many centuries.
The Seeker is given an enterprise to complete. For the purposes of self-development they have to carry that undertaking out with complete faith. In the process of planning and carrying through this effort, they attain their spiritual development.
The framework with which their constancy and his application, their mental and moral development, is carried out becomes their permanent anchor and frame of reference.
It is not the framework which is altered by the effort, but the human being themselves.
And it is the development of the human being which counts.
The other half of the equation
It is clear to me that “The development of the human being” is only one-half the equation. That it is not just the development of the human being which counts. The enterprise we undertake is equally important for the world, and we should be thoughtful about what we choose and choose not to do for that reason. The enterprise itself counts too, very much.
If it did not count, it would actually not “do” us. Why? Because we could discount it.
In fact, we discount its importance when we choose without consciousness.
For an enterprise to “do” us, it has to be important to us to do.
But that is my only emendation to what Shah is describing, and I offer it with humility before the Sufi tradition.
Nonetheless, I do offer it. It is not in the original text, and so I have to add it.
How is this powerful?
There is really nothing more important than our work. Plenty of things are as important, like relationships, including to the Earth and cosmos.
Since work is where most of us spend inordinate time, including housework, working from home, the work of raising children or caring for loved ones, it is worthy of our attention. This is true of all activity; it should be chosen. We are doing it, we are conscious beings by nature–we should act with consciousness. All work deserves consciousness.
Just as I help people stop doing things they don’t want to do once they take consciousness, I help people start doing things they want to do. I help people make more money at the job they have, change jobs, take on spiritual enterprises, follow their callings, and fundraise for and otherwise develop nonprofit projects and solopreneurships that speak to them and in a sense speak for them in this world.
If folks aren’t ready to do this, I love them but they are not the people I serve. Please ask me questions, probe me, about these rash but true statements I am making in this post.
For a follow-on post to this one, you might try those in the consciousness (focus and mindset) category, or the time and money categories. All come from this same perspective of using consciousness at work.