A new approach to work after a life-altering event

Your life looks more different right now than it ever has. 

Depending on the nature of your work, you are either run ragged trying to keep your business afloat, or you’ve had some time to slow down, take a step back and see life, your life, from a different perspective. 

Our patterns of behavior are ingrained in each one of us; what we do for work is often at the core of our identity. We wear 10-hour work days like a badge of honour; it signifies good work ethic—that we are getting somewhere. We are conditioned to drive to our place of work, sign up our kids for every available sport and artistic endeavor, all the while, stay fit, eat healthy, take care of ourselves and find quality time with loved ones. 

We’ve had some time to step off this crazy track (some of us are now watching the rats run by). We’ve been on a road that is near impossible to see because we are always traveling too fast upon it.

It feels like a good time to open the mind to different perspectives and shared wisdoms, and ask the question, “Have I been working smart, or the only way I know how?”

In a recent interview with Tim Ferriss, Michael Lewis asks, “Am I only here to pay my bills? Or are we here to get more out of life?” 

Lewis tells the story of his young self working for Salomon Brothers. After he wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal about investment bankers being overpaid, he got into big trouble with his boss. But, he was also one of the highest revenue generators at the firm at the time, and therefore, un-fireable. 

Listening to people who are inclined to speak their truth gets one asking, “What is my truth?” While Lewis is more than ambitious, and admits he’s competitive, he says he doesn’t accept money as an accurate measure of ambition or success. “I’m not trying to get a lot of [one] thing. If I’m trying to maximize anything, it’s a feeling. [I want to say] ‘that is a great piece of work.’” It’s a great interview and worth a listen. 

Working hard versus working smart is something we’ve all heard before. Medium contributor, Amanda Warton Jenkins reveals in her post “Don’t Work Harder, or Smarter; commit to these 3 things and watch your life improve” that after her reading of Brendon Burchard’s book High Performance Habits, that “the highest performers don’t grind and hustle like me.” She admits, [her] “ladder was usually against the wrong building.” Meaning, she realized that her “why” for achieving half the things she was working hard to achieve were for the wrong reasons. She states, “Many of my goals were only there because achieving them was about how I looked to others. Achieving them made me look successful, normal, important. But none of them had anything to do with who I really wanted to be.”

COVID isolation has been a good time to reflect for some business owners and entrepreneurs. It’s a great time to answer some unaddressed and hard questions, like: 

Do I want to grow my business for the right reasons? Does your growth strategy make sense for your business? Or are you positioned for growth because it’s what you think you should do? 

What have I noticed about my business during the pandemic that I have never noticed before now? Is less overhead serving me well? A smaller team? 

How have my customer’s expectations changed? How can I keep this new mindset going? 

Can my business gain insight into new ways of operating? A new process?

Zat Rana, an online writer who describes himself as “playing at the intersection of philosophy, science and art”, takes the words of philosophers and turns them into modern day messages, applicable to our daily lives. In a more recent article, he says of Nietzsche’s philosophy to not think of knowledge as being separate from power.  He explains, “Think of your body as an expression of truth. More than the warrior or the philosopher, this is why Nietzsche was especially drawn to the archetype of the artist – he/she who creates what they are.” 

There seems like no better time than now to recreate who we are, reinvent aspects of our businesses and question our approach to work.  


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