Authentic Work: Part 3

Authentic Work is the Real You

Beyond the philanthropic notion of making a difference in spare time. Beyond working flextime and four-day weeks. Beyond trying to balance work life with personal life. There is a place that people like Einstein showed us how to get to. Authentic work is a space to come from, where our natural talents, passions, and sense of contribution all come together in the midst of daily work.

This kind of career path is built on a new set of assumptions: work can be exciting, come naturally, and be meaningful and rewarding. Under these new rules, your work is an embodiment of your inborn nature, in action, to solve a problem or meet a need that you care about. But you won’t likely find this out there as a job-off-the-shelf, you’ll have to create it for yourself.  

In this way, what I am calling “play” is to pave your own way. You can’t easily find this sort of career ready-made. To go “on a career” is to carve your own path, to figure out a way to use your natural proclivities to solve a problem that intrigues you.

One thing is certain, you won’t feel passion if you’re not using your strongest talents. Even then, it takes a while to develop your talents to the point of mastery. And, in many cases, talent alone isn’t enough—the endeavor usually has to be something you consider personally meaningful or important. There are plenty of people who are very good at what they do, but they don’t care about the product or service they provide.

Einstein and others like him were engrossed and full of big questions—they had the innate talent for pondering mysteries and scientific unknowns. Not everyone has this specific talent; each of us has to figure out what our own unique abilities are.

To have this kind of career requires a leap of common sense outside the box of work as you may know it. It’s pretty simple to shift perspective, just watch any ol’ dog. Imagine how unhappy a retriever would be if he were working as a herding dog. Fortunately, most dogs know exactly what their nature is and go through life pretty joyfully in their work. Watching my Chessie, Rosie, do her work brings such deep joy I can’t stop from laughing out loud. With boundless enthusiasm, she will swim great distances to fetch large tree branches in icy cold water until she drops from exhaustion. Rosie expresses herself exactly as she is. No pretense. Just pure being it.

Be Your Work

The most successful, fulfilled people found ways to express themselves on a career path that allowed them to be fascinated by the world around them.

In the words of Charlie Parker, a revolutinonary jazz musician, “Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.” This is being your work.  This is not the same as being yourself at work, it’s about “being what you are” no matter where you are.

To turn work into play, find what puts in you in the zone, lost in time. When you set your life up this way, your enthusiasm and talent will distinguish you from your peers, which often opens a pathway to success in the truest, authentic sense of work. To get things going, remember what it’s like to be a kid. Don’t let commonsense limit you—design a career that allows you to just be