By Patty Cisco, founder and catalyst for Marketing Essentials
Throughout my career, I’ve had an intense desire to achieve executive status with a reputable company. While I’m not sure where that drive came from, I think deep down it has something to do with wanting to establish a sense of identity or prove my self-worth.This quest to define myself as someone important doesn’t come from a need to please or accept the praise of anyone but myself.
Through a journey of vertical career opportunities and educational advancement,
I achieved my goal by becoming a VP of Marketing & Development for a large
corporation. For seven years, I navigated the battle field of politics (no one ever tells you about this part of the job), achieved successful company growth and developed my professional area of expertise in marketing and sales.
Despite the fact that I had indeed “arrived” and accomplished what I had set out to do, I couldn’t deny a feeling of emptiness. I just knew something about what I was waking up to go do every day no longer felt right.
Do Passion & Purpose in Careers Really Exist?
Wikipedia defines emptiness as, “A sense of generalized boredom, social alienation
I struggled with these feelings of emptiness. I had lost my sense of purpose for what drove me to get up and go to work every day. My zest for life and the higher calling to give back and serve others were gone.
Yvonne Pierre author of, The Day My Soul Cried: A Memoir captures my reference to purpose best.
“Recognize that there's something AMAZING about you. Everyone has something that comes very natural for them - natural gifts and talents. That gift/talent is that thing or things that comes easy for you, but hard for most. The greatness that is stored within was given to you, because it was meant to be used. Whether you've been running from it or haven't discovered it yet, it's there. It's your job to discover and master it. It wasn't given to you in vain, it's part of your purpose.”
My journey to discovery was not easy. Looking back though, I realize it was necessary in order for me to grow into the person God intended for me to be. From leaving the “ideal” job, to a mission trip to Haiti, to becoming a caregiver for my father during his final months, to be willing to become vulnerable and really look at myself through a fresh set of eyes with the help of a business coach and spiritual support network, I ended up just where God intended me to be - as the Principal of my own company.
Finding purpose at work is not a new concept. Research reported by The Guardian
shows that the top three career motivators for women are: 1) challenging, passion driven work 2) making a difference, and 3) recognition.
In addition, women leaving companies to start their own businesses as a result of a need for purpose fulfillment is a hemorrhage that companies are suffering. In 2003, The Center for Women's Business Research estimated that, as of 2002, the number of women owned businesses was 6.2 million. These same women-owned businesses employed 9.2 million workers and generated $1.15 trillion in annual revenue. Currently, there are 8.2 million women-owned businesses, and that number is growing 50% faster than new business growth overall. Women now control almost $6 trillion in assets. That's a lot of purchasing and investment power.
6 Tips for Finding Your Purpose at Work
My experience is not unique. Other professional career-oriented women at different stages in their career hit the wall of emptiness. Here are 6 tips I would offer any colleague or friend who might be looking for guidance at this point in their life.
1. Recognize Symptoms. Feelings of emptiness, a lack of meaning or purpose, are experienced by most people at some point in life. Emptiness can leave a person feeling emotionally numb, despondent, isolated, and anxious. It’s important to recognize these feelings when evaluating your career path, as well as your personal and professional goals. Don’t run from them or try to suppress. Allow yourself that time of vulnerability to truly understand where those feeling are coming from.
2. Find Support. Surrounding yourself with a support network where you feel safe to share your feelings and allow yourself to really be vulnerable. Be open to listen to advice and suggestions that may not always feel good at the time. The relationship with a spouse or friend may not allow them to be your best source of support. Seeking outside support such as clergy or a certified business coach who have experience can be very beneficial.
3. Give Grace. Perhaps along your discovery journey maybe you did or didn’t say/do things at work that you now see as carnage resulting from how you responded to the situation at the time. Accept those as learning experiences and forgive yourself or others involved. Constantly dwelling on what was, only holds you back on becoming who you are intended to be.
4. Be Bold. Your true purpose will only be unveiled when you allow yourself to take risks and be bold. Whether it’s changing jobs or starting a business, open yourself up to the possibilities of all the abundance that is waiting for you. You will never experience fulfillment if you are stuck where you are and afraid to take a risk.
5. Re-Align Thinking. All-or-Nothing thinking is the platform of the perfectionist. It’s the voice that says, “If I take a risk, I had better be hugely successful.” This type of thinking can wreak havoc on personal growth. In other words, you don’t give yourself any window for celebration on the minor things; you only see success when something is completely finished and results in a positive outcome. If this sounds familiar take a look at this list of the pros and cons of an All or Nothing attitude (http://goodlifezen.com/are-you-an-all-or-nothing-person-here%E2%80%99s-how-to-change/).
6. Understand Politics. Office politics is often looked at negatively when in fact office politics is a very important aspect of anyone’s career. If you are seeking a leadership role in an organization, read and research on the art and science of how to navigate office politics. Seek a mentor that will help guide you in this area. However never sacrifice your values to get ahead. Sometimes the organization simply may not be a good fit for your personal values; accept it and look for a company that does.
It’s common for women to experience a sense of emotional void at different times
in their career and everyone’s trigger is something different. For me, my “ideal job” was a rich learning experience that helped me create the successful company I own today. I’ve been able to create a culture that allows and encourages people to bring their God-given gifts to work every day. This invites them to do what they love in order to help other businesses grow and be successful. God’s purpose for me is to use my knowledge and experiences to inspire, motivate and encourage people, whether my employees or our clients to reach their goals. I love going to work and surrounding myself with a great team of smart and creative people.
Have you found your real purpose in your career? Patty Cisco, founder and catalyst for Marketing Essentials, understands the challenges CEOs and marketing directors face in trying to work with passion and purpose and at the end of the day, yield results.