Work as a Pilgrimage

In David Whyte’s well written and insightful book “Crossing the Unknown Sea—Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity”, we are given a new perspective on what it means to ‘work’ in the world. This is no small thing.

How many times in the course of your life, or the course of a year or even sometimes in the course of a day do we pause and say “what the heck is going on here?” The real question is, “what the heck is going on with me”?

Sure, we all have our bad days, our out of sort days, our wish I were somewhere else days. However, David’s insights go to a deeper level a level I find that will come up in my coaching conversations with clients more frequently than not.

Let’s make a leap, an assumption for a moment. What if…what if the world you are looking out at right now is a reflection of what is going on inside you right now. Yes, that’s a big jump I know, but stay with me a moment.

Is everything as it should be? As you look out there do you see your life flowing along? Is your work life, your business flowing along? Are there small ripples or large waves flowing across your life’s pond of tranquility? If so, do you know what created those waves, or how to let them subside? Maybe you like waves. Maybe you like sailing and a strong wind suits you. However, without a rudder a strong winds will blow you where they will, not where you intended to go.

Mr. Whyte’s book is about the journey we take once we commit ourselves to a given path we call our job or our business. If you have your own business or work for someone else you have chosen to do so and in doing so you become and/or must ‘own’ that role. So now you have responsibilities and time constraints and commitments that you must bring yourself to…all of yourself, your fully present and aware self if you intend to be successful in that role.

Work for ninety nine per cent of us is more than one third of our daily existence. Many business owners will spend more time working than time with family, friends, and even sleep. Is that a given? Is that not the way it’s done you may tort. As a former entrepreneur there was a time I could only see the trees and not the forest. Please do not take this as a criticism but rather a poke at your ‘reality’ beliefs.

One of my clients has a business that is not yet 5 years old and which is not yet over the profitability hump but is well on its way. He is young and ambitious and married and with kids and has tremendous discipline. He only works 8 to 10 hours a day 5 days a week. Not 6 or 7 days a week, just 5. He has a life because he values the rest of his life as much or more than his work life. Also, he loves his work life and the challenges it brings him. His ocean has its rough and smooth days but he stays fully present and has learned, with help, to sail with the wind, rudder in hand going in the direction he intends. Can you say that?

Getting back to Mr. Whyte’s insights, he is saying that one of our greatest opportunities for discovery and growth is in our work life. If you think about the times in each work day where you either get to make a choice or engage in relating to someone else you will have in those moments the opportunities of which David speaks so eloquently. Work is about creating successful relationships. Creating successful relationships with yourself, your family, your co-workers, your employees, your customers, your vendors, and your environment will lead to a meaningful life, a successful life, a rewarding life. This is the life you want to see in the mirror of your day.

What does it take to create such successful relationships?

More to come…enjoy your week, and stay in touch.