What we become in the process: The heart of working for ourselves
“It’s about what we can offer, yes, but fundamentally
it’s about who we become in the process, isn’t it?”
I was on Zoom having a virtual cup of tea with a friend the other day, the wonderful mentor Fiona Moore. Just before we signed off, she dropped that bombshell quote on me.
I believe, at the time, I was running off at the mouth about all the benefits of working for one’s self in times like these. The way we can shape our work, attract different kinds of people, offer whatever we think will help our clients be their best selves.
But looking at it from that perspective rocked me back on my heels.
Heart-based, thoughtful kinds of businesses spend a lot of time asking questions like, “Who can I help?” and “What shall I offer them next?”
Rarely do we fly up to the birds-eye-view and look at the other person in the picture: Us.
How is our business transforming us? Is our work in the world—the kind we do for money—bringing us closer or taking us farther away from the kind of life we want to have lived when we look back at the end?
A recent Cornell study found that “…our most enduring regrets are the ones that stem from our failure to live up to our ideal selves” (Woulda, coulda, shoulda: the haunting regret of failing our ideal selves) The research by psychologist Tom Gilovich and Cornell graduate student Shai Davidai, logging hundreds of surveys, found that people are haunted more by regrets about failing to fulfill their hopes, goals, and aspirations than by regrets about failing to fulfill their duties, obligations, and responsibilities.
So just who are we becoming as a result of offering what we offer, to the people we spend so much time and effort to reach?
And if it’s all we ever got to be, would you consider that a life well lived?
Lots of food for thought this weekend.
Love this post, Margaret! When I liberated myself from Corporate America back at the end of 1993, I knew–and looked forward to–not only the writing and what that entailed but also what I would make of it, how it would shape me, now that I was responsible for my own income and all the responsibility and learning that would take. After about 16 years when I transitioned into my work (calling, really) of journal facilitation, I went through this same process. And I can say that I would not trade any of it for anything! I’ve become a fuller, more fulfilled person because of these choices.
Congrats for being able to accomplish this. I’m on the fence and not able to make that leap of faith to move from the corporate world. I’m envious of those who have successfully accomplished this transition.