Eight Tips for Connecting Your Job to the Greater Good

connect the dots Clebsch_graph wikipediaPublic speaking is scary for many people. But according to research by authors Leider and Shapiro, living a meaningless life is people’s greatest fear.

If you’re working 40+ hours a week, you spend at least half of your waking hours working. Do you find your work meaningful?

Beyond providing financially for yourself and your family, here are 8 tips for making your day job really count in the bigger picture:

  1. Remember: your job is ultimately about serving someone; focus on that someone. All legitimate jobs provide a product or service to someone. You may be several steps removed from the ultimate ‘client’ you are serving. But it’s up to you to keep in focus how your specific tasks fit into the bigger picture of helping people – your company’s bigger picture and your own bigger picture. And an effective leader helps others connect these dots, too.
  2. Know what you bring to the table – and bring it. You have unique skills, experiences, knowledge, passions and style. You may have the same job title as others, but you are not an interchangeable resource or asset. Part of your contribution in your work is to do your job excellently, wholeheartedly and in a way that only you can do it.
  3. Look for opportunities to serve your colleagues. Not just in what you do but in how you do it. It could be as simple as being kind, truthful, respectful, forgiving, complimentary, supportive, etc. At the risk of sounding like a Precious Moments figurine, these actions are truly meaningful.
  4. Remind others how you appreciate them and how their contribution has made a difference. Saying ‘thanks’ and ‘well-done’ is a universal language (and talent strategy) that everyone appreciates.
  5. Ask for feedback. Take the initiative to ask colleagues how you’re doing in your job and what suggestions they have for how you can better serve them and help them. And really listen.
  6. Answer the ‘what do you do for work’ question differently. E.g., Instead of answering with, “I’m a Senior Director for Company ABC,” try “I lead a team that provides systems that help people manage their money better.”
  7. If you feel like a job task is a waste of time, tell someone who cares. Ask your boss or someone else who can explain or remind you why it’s important.
  8. Be willing to make waves. As my colleague Patti Johnson has found in her research, making a meaningful difference with a ripple effect is not just for high profile leaders, famous celebrities or philanthropists. It can start with anyone, right where you are.

You don’t have to quit your day job to contribute to the greater good.

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Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. In his work as a leadership consultant and executive coach, he helps leaders and teams take purposeful action towards meaningful results. You can reach him at jbaker@www.people-results.com or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr