It’s a crazy world out there.
Weird weather, uncertain employment, foreclosures, freak accidents.
It’s as if we’re all leaning forward, tensed in advance of whatever might hit us next, in a collective anxious anticipation.
I don’t know about you, but I find it utterly exhausting. Like living under seige.
Right now there’s a lot of urgency and drama in the world – unemployment is stubbornly up: “I could lose my job”. Foreclosures surge: “I could lose my house.” Stock market is off: “My retirement savings are half what they used to be.” Employers pass surging health care costs to employees: “I am one major illness away from disaster.”
We’re so in the moment with all the bad news that we cannot even begin to think about anything else. We dwell, we ruminate, we get stuck in all the negative. It feels crappy.
But there’s a cure, an antidote. A way to start feeling better, regardless of the uncertainty.
Here’s what you do: have a vision. An idea of the big picture. A sense of how you’re contributing to some greater purpose and mission.
Now, I’ve written about this before – What’s The Point? – and suggested that it’s important to never confuse urgency and drama with meaning and purpose. We’ve got too much of the former right now, when what we really need is more of the latter.
Recently, the Washington Post had an interesting item on leadership. Written by Sally Blount, Dean of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, it talks about how to create worker satisfaction. Blount says: “…people in organizations are hungry for meaning, for understanding of how what they do each day contributes to a greater purpose, a greater mission.”
Excellent point. And equally applicable to individuals. Meaning: you.
Examine how what you do every day contributes to a greater purpose, a greater mission. By doing what you do each day, are you supporting your spouse, your children, your parents, an ill sibling? In the course of your day, whose lives are you making better? How does what you do make a difference?
And if it doesn’t… or if you feel like it doesn’t…
Start making a contribution.
Volunteer somewhere that matters. That’s a great thing. But you may not feel like you have the time. OK, then. Be a courteous driver. Open doors for people. Be nice to the kid riding his bike in your driveway. Mow your lawn. Make repairs where you live. Take charge of stuff rather than letting stuff take charge of you.
Dare to care about something.
Sally Blount suggests that organizations “provide a sense of purpose, a narrative for what that organization stands for and how it contributes to making the world a better place.”
Look at your own big picture, then. And craft your own narrative about who you are and what you stand for.
And hold fast to that amidst all of the hullabaloo and uncertainty.