Finding meaningful work: Question #5

“Anger and sadness are great indicators of a deeper connection to a subject or issue.” 

Question #5:
What gets you mad or sad in the world?

Naturally, I save the easiest question for last.  If the first four questions are leaving you stumped, Question #5 is just for you.  Here it is:  “What gets you mad or sad in the world?”  Now, before you get cranky with me for such a fuzzy question, hold on.  The idea behind Question #5 is to get you tapping into your emotions in order to find topics or issues that spark some kind of strong reaction from you.  Personally, I LOVE strong emotions such as anger and sadness when I work with clients.  Strong emotions are fantastic sources of data.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had clients apologize for their rowdiness or for their tears.  In fact it should be just the opposite.  I should be thanking them for such great sources of information.  Anger and sadness are great indicators of a deeper connection to a subject or issue – and often that subject or issue can be traced back to a need in the world that you have a particular connection with.  And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about – figuring out the particular need in the world that you feel connected to and then finding out a way to address it?  Take Allison for example.

Allison’s Story

We all know an Allison in our lives.  That friend, family member or acquaintance that is so incredibly passionate about a particular issue that it borders on crazy.  In Allison’s case, the issue is cats, particularly the abandoned or abused varieties.  Allison gets visibly angry every time she sees a stray or homeless cat.  If you are in her presence during one of these encounters, be prepared for a mini sermon on the sins of animal cruelty and the moral duty to care for these innocent creatures.  For Allison, it’s not just words.  She takes action.  Allison has made it her personal mission to fund the local cat rescue center, she volunteers regularly on the weekends for cat adoption groups and she has personally taken in countless cats of her own.  Allison is a bona fide cat rescue nut and is committed to addressing that need head on.

There are three important points about Allison’s story (and Question #5) that we can apply to us:

Point #1I have no idea why Allison is so incredibly passionate about caring for felinesWhile self-awareness is ideal, it’s not necessary.  When it comes right down to it, if you act on your emotional connection to an issue or need in a positive way, that’s all that really matters.

Point #2It doesn’t have to be your job.  In Allison’s case, she lives out her passion and fulfillment in her “free” time.  She uses work as a means to an end so she can fund her true calling.  You might find that option is the easier or 0ptimal path for you so don’t let limited vocational prospects prevent you from addressing a need you feel a connection to or passion for.

Point #3I really don’t like cats.  I have one of my own and all she gives me is the occasional slimy hairball strategically placed directly between my bed and the bathroom.  There’s nothing like the feeling of a cold, wet hairball squishing between your toes at 3:00 AM.  So personally, I think Allison’s emotional connection with cats is absurd, over the top and potentially in need of clinical attention.  After all, they are just cats.  And that is simply the point.  What gets Allison fired up (or you for that matter) doesn’t have to make sense to me or anyone else.  As long as you have an emotional connection to a particular need or issue in the world, go for it.  While I may not fully understand it, I know we need people like Allison.  Otherwise, without her we might find ourselves overrun with dangerous gangs of roaming cats that prowl neighborhoods late at night frightening small children, harassing innocent squirrels and stalking the loose strings on the back of our clothing.

So, what gets you mad or sad in the world?  Look for an answer that brings out an emotional reaction in you.  Once you’ve got that, you’re well on your way.  And of course, don’t just sit there.  Take action!

 

A note from Brandon
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