Yearning for meaning

Yearning for meaning

A couple of weeks ago I was following #TEDatIBM on Twitter, as you do, and this video from youtube was shown on the big screen at one stage:

 

You may have seen it; apparently it’s gone viral and seems to have garnered much admiration. Which is interesting. Obviously most of us are ready to admire people who find original and perhaps even cheeky ways to do things, like putting together a self-made dance clip to replace the traditional resignation letter. But I think that this video has tapped into an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with work felt by too many employees today. Future of work expert Jeremy Scrivens (@JeremyScrivens) has tweeted the statistic that 87% of employees are disengaged from their work; it is stunning to think that this many people are bored, uninspired and perhaps even unhappy with their jobs and / or workplaces.

Plenty of us will know people who find their day to day work routine tedious, or who fret that their talents are not fully utilised or recognised, or who feel alienated by an unsupportive workplace culture, or who perceive that they are bumping their heads against a glass or bamboo ceiling. I have met those, too, who seem to be asking themselves “is this all there is”, who question whether the seemingly endless quest for profit is a fulfilling enough way to spend their working lives. There are also people out there who are worried about the plight of those less fortunate, and who chaff at the idea that their current jobs do nothing to alleviate the suffering or constraints experienced by others.

Image from 'Mr Galliano's Circus' by Enid Blyton
Image from ‘Mr Galliano’s Circus’ by Enid Blyton

I find myself wondering how many of these dissatisfied employees are harbouring what I call “Run and away and join the circus” or “join the foreign legion” type yearnings. Not everyone wants to quit their jobs, and many will want to stay for the security and in the (forlorn?) hope that something will shift in their work conditions to help them bring some sense of meaning back into their lives. But there are those brave folks who would like to make a career shift so that they can do something that engages their heart, mind and souls and who envisage a life in service of deeper inspirations and ennobling values.

NOT a realistic depiction of life in the social enterprise sector, I'm afraid
NOT a realistic depiction of life in the social enterprise sector, I’m afraid

I am thinking about this a lot as I am currently fine tuning an introductory workshop to help people who want to start a social enterprise or community based organisation. During the past year I have encountered people who wish to cross over from the corporate or bureaucratic worlds into the social enterprise and community sectors to run projects or enterprises. They are doing this not just to try something new, but also to explore their talents, express altruism and give meaning to their lives.

I acknowledge that this may not be the path for everyone but I think this is splendid. Instead of giving into feelings of cynicism or pessimism, these people are daring to dream and experiment. They will bring some new energy, enthusiasm, insights and skills into a sector that is facing huge challenges and doing a lot of heavy lifting for our nation at the moment. We will all benefit from their innovations and efforts.

My workshop – Getting to the heart of running a social enterprise – is part of the Changemakers Festival. It is free and will take place at 6pm on 24 October 2014. For more information look here; RSVPs are required and you can do that here; to check out the Changemakers Festival program go to their website here. The workshop venue is at Naturalis Clinic, and you can find their website here.

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