Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Being an Intention

As a 21st century office worker, I tend to define myself as my skillset: the computer languages I have programmed with, the tools and technologies I am familiar with, the conceptual and design frameworks I have used on previous projects... and so on.  

And job opportunities tend to be defined in these same terms. A typical job role advert arriving in my email inbox states a list of 5 or 6 such requirements... skills they want me to have.

Of course there is nothing wrong with having skills. Skills are great. Skills are useful. When I hire a plumber, I definitely want him to have the requisite skills. And providing my skills as a software developer to other businesses is completely in line with being of service to the community in which I am embedded.

But, in the end, working from the perspective of these kinds of parameters and defining myself as a skillset is never going to be ultimately satisfying.

What we really desire to be working for and from, what really motivates us as human beings is our INTENTIONS. What does that look like in practical terms?

If job roles were advertised based on intentions they would say things like:

  • In this job you will make the world a better place
  • In this job you will save people’s lives
  • In this job you will reduce the suffering of old people
  • In this job you will end hunger

Or would they? … If your job role was stated as an intention, rather than as a skillset, what would the stated intention be? … And (which is more to the point) does that intention move and inspire you?

And there’s the RUB!

If the purpose behind your job role is not something that you find inspiring... WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? … Come to that, what the hell is your company doing?

Ok, world! Its time to wake up! And notice. What the hell are we doing?

Things get pretty well straightened out when we start to define ourselves in terms of our intentions. Because there’s no hiding in there. As long as I am defining myself as a skillset, and going to work on the basis of my skillset and being paid on the basis of my skillset, it is easy for it to slip past me that: the work I am doing is utterly futile, counter-productive, wasteful, and has absolutely no good reason for it.

In fact when I consider the work I do from the perspective of the intention behind it, I notice that I should quit my job RIGHT NOW... and so should you!

We should quit our jobs and go and do something that is an expression of an intention that is inspiring, worth spending our lives on, that moves us and is satisfying as a way to define who we in fact are.

Only then will we start to escape the trap of an education system and a working culture that defines us according to a set of skills that we either do or don’t have.