Feeling discontent at work can actually be a great gift when you dare to ask yourself the difficult question -“Why do I feel like this?”- At least that is what happened to me.
Like many of us, I grew up with an intense drive to achieve. I wanted to be successful. I learned about self-discipline, resilience and being fixated on the target. In a blink of an eye, years of hard work passed and I had done well. Even being strongly self-critical, I had to yield and admit I had achieved a point in my life where I was “successful enough”.
Surprisingly, feeling successful came with an unexpected companion: disenchantment.
Wealth, beating the competition and achieving professional recognition was supposed to bring me happiness but all I felt was boredom, irritation and a new sense of self-dislike. Work became hollow and every time I looked at myself in the mirror an inner voice questioned: -“Is this really my life??”- My then executive coach advised me to focus on enjoying my new success status and learn to ignore my negative feelings. Instead, I became obsessed with understanding them even if that meant losing everything that I had worked so hard for.
I started reading like mad. I devoured book after book on unrelated topics that somehow felt connected. It was comforting to begin to understand and I could not help wanting more. I attended specialized seminars and began to talk about my discontent with family and close friends. This was particularly difficult as it was the first time in my life that the secure, strong – have the solution me had to show himself as the insecure, vulnerable – I don’t even understand what is happening me. Most people quickly dismissed me but a few shared similar stories and those conversations gave me a new sense of self-assurance. It was all too strong of an attraction to just forget about, so I decided to become more organized and I assembled a small research team that could expand my learning. We ran a discovery project and involved different experts in the process. We went in circles but managed to grasp a sense of the scale and complexity of what I was going through. This wasn’t just a few individuals like myself suffering a “mid life crisis” but a complex challenge involving how the business system is broken right from its outset at the entrepreneurship level.
By then I was hooked. I had developed a deep sense of determination to act on those feelings and turn the disenchantment into a new richer life for both myself and all the people I do business with, while not forgetting to heal at the same time the environmental mess we all got ourselves into. To achieve this we must rethink from scratch the whole entrepreneurial system including developing authentic connections between who we really are and the work we do, redefining the social structures involved, and changing the mindset on most of what we take for granted. In short, a huge challenge, but at the same time defined and thus solvable.
As I write these words, I am certain that paving different paths to carry the learning forward is the most natural next step in the journey. Even when we share the discontent about today’s work and want to contribute our part to the challenge at hand, we all have different interests and different capacities, and only by building several initiatives where everyone can find her place can we maximize our chances for deep learning and creating something of value. Learn by studying and reflecting on our own lives and learn as one always learns best, by trying things in real life.
We took great care on finding a way to begin qonsius and I am excited to finally be able to invite you. If you experience discontent with your work, please tell us what fires you to act and let’s do something about it. The better future is out there waiting for us to connect…