Purpose

FINDING

IN WORK

 

"Occupy yourselves with that which profiteth yourselves and others. "

- Bahá’u’lláh

 

Inspirations

The beginning of a new year brings with it echoes of the challenges faced in the previous one.

The difficulties and disruptions to people's lives and livelihoods mean that many people, having lost their employment,  are beginning this year facing an uncertain economic future, while others, working on the front-lines as nurses, doctors, and teachers (among many other vital professions), are working more intensely than ever and making great personal sacrifices to do so.

Young people entering the workforce for the first time in these unprecedented conditions are confronted by old challenges as well as new ones, figuring out how they can bring their own vision of a better world to entrenched social structures in the midst of ongoing uncertainty. Homemakers, engaged in the vital occupation of raising and caring for children are also being confronted by unpredictable schedules for their kids' education.

Wherever we might fall in this space, the importance and exalted rank of work done in the spirit of service is not lost on us. In this light, Elevate would like to offer this collection on the importance of work and our ability to find purpose by exerting ourselves by pursuing excellence, upholding our principles, and offering our talents in service of others.

As part of our mission to support meaningful conversations on important topics,  Elevate asked 
a few questions about finding purpose through work.  Here are some of the answers we received; perhaps they can get you thinking or make  for interesting points to raise in your own conversation spaces. You can also add to the conversation by submitting your own thoughts at the bottom of the page.

What are the challenges of implementing your principles within your work environment?

"Responding with kindness to those who are not always kind"

"Connecting with colleagues when gossip is the main form of communication in the staffroom"

"Trying to be part of the team, while also bringing my own differences of perspective, but never having a space to address any of that explicitly."

What are the practical steps that you take to combat these challenges?

"Attempting to change the work culture through a bottom-up approach, e.g. through tangible actions and not associating with back-biting"

"Engaging in deeper conversations about the principles at play and their relationship to the workplace. Try to lead by example where possible."

How do you find purpose in your profession? 

"I work with children in education, so I don't feel I need to look far at all to find purpose. Seeing their enthusiasm when they learn something new, especially when they've previously been struggling with it, is enormously rewarding. When I can see that I'm a positive presence in a child's life, that also makes it clear to me why I do my job, particularly when I know how hard life is for them in so many ways."

"Striving to deliver work to a high standard; working with others; being of assistance to others."

Do you feel that your occupation aligns with your spiritual, religious and ethical views?

"Yes, for the most part. Certain assumptions regarding the approach to conflict resolution don't align fully, but it's important to be in these spaces/conversations and engage with differences in a constructive way"

"Yes, my firm has good values, goals and open mindedness"

"No."

What assumptions does your field hold of human nature and how does it influence the means and ends of the profession?

"My field is the legal profession. While justice is central to the profession, a significant proportion of the practice law is orientated by money. I'm fortunate in that the firm where I work, while not perfect, is largely concerned with providing access to justice and helping individuals"

"I think there are a mixture of assumptions, very few of which are ever expressed explicitly. This makes it a little difficult to engage with them and identify the ways they affect practice. I think one major (but unspoken) assumption I do notice is a kind of materialistic idea that religion, spirituality or any deeper sense of interconnection are largely irrelevant or obsolete. I think this links to a bit of a disconnected, individualistic feeling. This is combined with a general lack of resources to give every child the attention they really deserve – something that's not the school's fault but which I believe arises from that materialism reaching into so many levels of society and governance."

"Difficult to state on the whole, but one assumption is that 'winning' is the most important factor and at times this leads to a narrow view of the truth or what is in the best interest of the client."

"The lower human nature, especially around traditional conceptions of 'power' and the 'ego'."

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