Let’s continue this journey into how our work can become our Calling.
Many of us have at least a vague sense of what makes us feel most alive — the thing you would do for the rest of your life if money were no object. The tricky bit is actually DOING it! So let’s learn a little bit more about behavior change, and hack ourselves to happiness.
I just finished reading Influence by Robert Cialdini.
The six strongest psychological factors that can be used to influence other people’s behavior are:
1) Reciprocity : once someone gives us something we feel compelled to give back to clear the debt.
2) Commitment and Consistency : once we do something we want to act in a fashion that is consistent with the original action to maintain our self-image
3) Social proof : we do things because other people do them. The lemur effect & “first follower” phenomenon.
4) Liking : we are more influenced by people who we like
5) Authority : this is about duty and obligation
6) Scarcity : when something is limited we can be more easily influenced to try to get it
This book is about how to influence other people, but I’d like to experiment with how to use these cognitive biases to influence our own behavior toward the desired goal of a more purposeful work life.
I think this is all about Self-Image. We need to be more aware of how we see ourselves and how this affects what we think we should do in the world.
We might start with Liking: how can we treat ourselves better and slow down the self-badgering that many of us do to ourselves?
Then we might use Social Proof by surrounding ourselves with people who get our deeper and more intimate sense of purpose, and can model the good behaviors that we want to join. Just hanging out with these people who impress a “positive influence” on us continues to shift our self-image.
Now that we have sufficiently altered our self-image, we might start using Commitment and Consistency to act in accordance with that new mental models of ourself. We can reinforce this by doing one-time new activities that chip away at the calcified self-images that no longer serve us. Instead of trying to do a month-long health fast, just drink one smoothie. Instead of committing to a Yoga Teacher training, go to one class. Then, celebrate the small win and fall in love with yourself a little more.
My hunch is that Scarcity is not a good way to shift toward a more meaningful life. But it is good to keep in mind that you have only one life to live.
70% of people hate their jobs.
This is a huge problem and a massive opportunity. Imagine how much better organizations would perform if people were excited to be at work, thereby producing inspired, high-quality output!
This past summer, I started prototyping some consulting in “life design.” (This is not life coaching) The first thing I did with my clients was to get their motivational/energy account balance – what gives you energy vs. what drains your energy.
We need to build companies that actually give life-energy to their employees- that make us jazzed. We need to walk out of meetings rejuvenated, not exhausted.
Easier said than done. An experience that gives one person energy can be draining to the next, so to be energetically profitable (heard it here first, folks!) people need to be pretty self-aware.
If happiness is the end goal in most people’s lives, companies try to sell stuff or experiences as a means to that end. Since we all know that’s a sham, maybe companies can redeem and repurpose themselves toward the mission of actually creating fulfilling lives for people – starting with their employees!
My next post will explore, “What is Personal Development Anyway?” to look at some stories of a growing movement of people who are ditching the bullshit and getting serious about getting happy.
And then we will start moving toward a “Business Case for Personal Development”
The great systems scientist Donella Meadow’s work reminds us where to apply our energy to have the biggest impact.
One challenge I’ve found is that the highest level work is both the most difficult to do, and the most intangible. Luckily, I’ve found that art is a pretty nice solution to that conundrum- it allows us to communicate at a deep enough level such that we can question the assumptions that create our mindset, and it has a tangible product.
So I ask you, what is your art? How might you elevate your work in the world into an artform, mixing technical proficiency with intuitive flair to produce something that only you can offer?
A little geek porn for you as you ponder:
Donella Meadows outlined twelve archetypal points of leverage for shifting systems. She counts the Goals of the system as one of the highest points of leverage. What is the goal of our current monetary system? What old cultural stories are programmed into it? Is one of the goals the maintenance of privilege? What other unwritten goals are encoded in the culture of money?
If the economy is the DNA of a cancer cell that is ravaging this planet, how might we reprogram this DNA to be on a different mission? Currencies are definitely tools for regulating information flows in a system, but might they also be a medium for transforming the goals of a system? How might a currency transaction actually be a conversation about our values and vision, enabling us to “vote” on what future we’d like to live into?