Are you defined by the work you do?

I was on the phone two days ago with a friend.  The discussion centered around our career choices and how what we do professionally defines us as an individual.  Her answer to that comment has resonated with me.  She simply answered, “My job doesn’t define who I am…  I am a mother, a musician, a cook and a person who enjoys life.”  (For the record, this person has a fabulous career fortunate to be doing exactly what she wants to be doing in life.)

Although I want to believe that I have always shared a similar life mantra, I cannot help but to think about all the moments over the last few years when asked a question of “So Ken, what do you do?” what my answer was.  I would immediately answer with my professional title and the company I was working with.  I wonder what kind of reaction I would have received if I answered with this … “Great question.  I am a father, a husband, a recreational golfer, a public speaker, a civic leader, an Eagle Scout, a soccer coach, a community volunteer, an entrepreneur, and a full-time employee.”  

So, what do you do?  If asked that simple question, what answer would you provide?  Do you let your “Title” define you and provide validation or do you find life’s validation in other ways?  Do you have a life outside of the professional work you do?

Last week I attended an event in North Carolina.  I was attending with a colleague who provided a presentation to a group of government leaders around the topic of managing a remote workforce.  He provided a graphic that displayed a vintage scale of justice with the words “life” on one side and “work” on the other and an interesting conversation ensued regarding how important it is to find a healthy amount of balance.  It is true that finding that balance between work and life can be difficult at times.  It appears that the younger generation of worker has a healthy grasp on balance.  To the next generation employee, work is no longer defined as a location, it is considered an activity.

So, I would pose the following question for discussion… “What do you do to help achieve a healthy work/life balance?”

A life of meaning and joy.. thoughts from Tony Robbins

“Ultimately what shapes the meaning of our lives is not what we get, but what we give.  If you can make it your goal to each day find a way to add more value to people’s lives than anyone else, then you’ll never have to worry about success.  But, if  you’re constantly just trying to make a deal, trying to make a trade – “I’ll give you this if you give me that”, you will find yourself struggling to prosper.  Remember, the secret to living is giving.  We’re not made to be selfish.  We can succeed and achieve, but what we want deep in our souls is to feel like life matters… that we’re givers, not takers.

If each day you can sincerely feel like you’ve given something of value to those around you, I can promise you you’ll experience the ultimate victory of life.. a life of meaning and joy.”  Tony Robbins – Success Magazine Dec 08

This is a quotation that I carry in my planner.  As I work towards my personal and professional goals, I always strive to remember that success is best achieved when being a giver, not a taker and always work to add true value in the lives of those I come into contact with.  – Ken