Where I spent my day today and for the weekend.
Humans, I am told, are creatures of meaning. Because we lack the complete survival instinct of most animals, we create layers of meaning upon the experiences we face as a way of coping.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is something most marketing and communications are introduced to. Yet there is one level I think is missing in the chart taught to me when I was taking Introduction to Marketing in college (either that or I was just very very blur) which is called Self-Actualisation. When the basic needs of a human is met (food, shelter, entertainment, social, etc), then the person will want to self-actualise. In order words, the human body/person works in such a way that the higher need will emerge when the lower needs are met.
However, the danger lies in making meeting those needs an end in themselves rather than a means to an end. I.e. when you make money itself the end rather than a means to an end. So when you lose the money, you lose it all (billionaires committing suicide because they lost their fortune sounding familiar? I’m using this mainly as an example, as I suspect deeper motives but moving along…)
So when you look at it as a means to the end, it changes the meaning of your pursuit, and since the meaning is your motivation, it changes your motivation and drive. So your drive and pursuit is heavily dependent on the meaning you give those pursuits.
Here’s an example I was given: A guy who starts a business may decide that his goal is to make RM5 million. Why RM5million? He has 3 kids. RM1million each for his children and two million for him and his wife. He reached his goal about 3 years later. Five years down the road, he’s still in it and his business employs around 100 workers. When asked why he’s still in it when he said he wanted to get out, he says that now he has 100 more families to feed.
The meaning of the business has changed for the man after he went into business. This change is often something that is unconscious and unnoticed by most people. As we move along this life, our needs change and evolve. So the meaning we ascribed to it changes.
Something that struck me quite strongly while I was in the workshop was that when what you wished, felt and thought about was in harmony, then everything comes together. This means (from what I understood), what you did, what you thought and thus what you desired, when they are in harmony, your life becomes meaningful, or everything just flows.
That basically described my 3 years of working life, actually.
When I was with PacNet, I wanted to give my customers the best service because I wanted to feel like I was making a difference in their lives. I thought about it (it more or less consumed 75% of my thoughts) and I felt like I was making a difference when I got emails and feedback from my customers saying that it did help and make a difference. I stayed with them for 8 months, and it was some of the best times of my life. However, by the 6th month I was starting to feel restless and I wanted a change. The offer that was the closest to what I wanted was YTL. I joined the company without doing much research on them.
Boy was that the wrong decision to make. For the following 3.5 months I was with them, I fell sick and tired constantly, my work output was horrible and I basically hated myself. Or rather shrunk into a shell. What I joined them for did not jive with the core within me. The atmosphere of the company, which was a very strait-laced corporate environment, made me wilt like no other. What I felt, what I was doing, and what I wished and thought were no longer in harmony.
So I looked for another job and found my current company. Anything would have to be better than YTL, and I am coming here to earn money, I thought then. Because of my constant job-hopping, I knew that I needed to stay for about 1-2 years to make my resume look good.
It’s coming to three years now. I enjoy the work I do for the company, I know what I wish for, and I feel great working for them. I know I slacked off quite badly last year, but I am grateful that I am still seen to be an asset to this company (aren’t I?) despite the many shenanigans we have. I know my role in the company, now I need to grow into that role and perhaps outgrow it too. :D
See how the meanings have changed? What meaning will YOU discover today?