Work can be very good for people. The mentality fostered at work might be making up for aspects of the self that didn’t get properly developed before.
But on the other hand…
Work can narrow our characters too. When a certain range of issues and ways of thinking become entrenched, it means that others start to feel awkward and even threatening.
“This Would Never Happen To Me.”
I can hear you saying something like that.
After all, you’re not a low performer. Turns out it can happen to the best of us.
Former C-Suite executive and Forbes contributor Glenn Llopis explains that even the most coveted high-potential employees can suffer from an identity crisis:
“Recently I met with a high-potential employee in a Fortune 200 company that said, “I’ve received so much feedback from so many people, that I’ve lost my identity. I spend too much time being so critical of everything I am doing so I can satisfy so many different people – except myself.””
Llopis believes that identity confusion is a major reason great talent walks away from even the most impressive job titles.
So, think about it. How much does your current job title define your identity?
And how much of the whole package involves pleasing other people?
Or, flip it around…
What Satisfies You?
To lead a truly meaningful life, Erik Erikson (the last psychologist I’ll reference this week, I swear) theorised that humans must master a certain value or skill at each stage of their development.
For adults, the critical milestone is developing generativity over stagnation.
Generativity is about “making your mark” on the world through creating and accomplishing things that make the world a better place.
Stagnation is about failing to find a way to contribute to, and feeling disconnected from, others beyond the confines of your ego.
Hey, Wait A Minute!
Didn’t we just say our careers shouldn’t be about pleasing others?
The truth is, generativity isn’t about pleasing anyone. It’s about authentically being of service by doing what satisfies you most.
It’s a state of deep knowing that evolves when you’re offering your best self to the world through your work.
Yes, your business card says what you are paid to do, but don’t fall into the trap of using it as a hiding place from your true purpose.