How Can You Stand to Do What You Do?

If you can think of a human activity or occupation, there will be people who love it and live for it and others who couldn’t bear it. 

There are very many people who don’t really enjoy what they do or perhaps even how they live, they don’t enjoy the work that they do and they sort of tolerate it.  You know, they get through the week and they wait for the weekend.  There’s a lot of evidence of that, by the way.  A lot of studies have shown that there’s massive disengagement throughout the workplace.  


And yet, I also meet people who love what they do.  And they couldn’t really imagine doing anything else.  If you said to them, "why don’t you do something else for change?" They really wouldn’t know what you meant.  They’d say, "Well this isn’t, you know, what I do.  It’s who I am."  And they could be veterinarians, pathologists.  They could be dancers, musicians. They could be teachers, homemakers.  You name it.  If you can think of a human activity or occupation, there will be people who love it and live for it and others who couldn’t bear it.  

So I was just intrigued by the difference between these two ways of being, and the difference it makes.  And I think it has really considerable implications.  It has implications that is social in character.  You know, if we have communities where large tranches of the population are simply detached, disengaged, uninterested, of course it has big consequences.  If people are disengaged at work it has large consequences.  

Now, I’m not suggesting for a minute that if everybody finds their element, it’ll solve every social problem we face, but I’m certainly saying it would help.  And my long-term conviction has always been that we all have deep talents and the potential for engagement and we should explore it.  

I’ve have set out are what I mean by being in your element and what’s involved in trying to pursue that. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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