Bringing Your Life to Your Work

I spent a good chunk of my summer traveling the country, speaking about work and how to make it fit with the rest of life in ways that are good both for companies and the people employed by them. I talked to thousands of people. I listened closely to the pulse of American business. There’s much pain. Too many people feel overwhelmed, disconnected, pessimistic, and without purpose other than mere survival. Demand for change is surely the order of the day.

As I step into my 25th year teaching at the Wharton School, I’m struck by how much about the world of work is not the same as it was when I started. For instance, it used to be that the sun’s relationshipto the earth was what determined when you worked and when you didn’t. Thanks to the revolution in digital technology, this is no longer true for most people I meet. It’s now up to each one of us to decide when to turn it on and when to turn it off. New tools promise freedom from time and space, but it’s just dawning on most of us that we need to learn new psychological and social technologies, too, to avoid drowning in the deluge of non-stop pressures that come at us through the tethers we call iPhone and Blackberry.

People entering the workforce in 2008 want different things from what my generation wanted on arrival. Since I started at Wharton, I’ve been occasionally asking students this: How many of you plan to work in the same company when you retire as when you graduate? About two-thirds responded affirmatively way back when. But only two in a recent class of 65 said this was their plan; both were heirs to major fortunes.

How do we now define success? It’s more likely to be about leaving a lighter footprint than about piling up more toys, more about living a rich and full life than about beating up the other guy. Peace, love, and understanding aren’t so funny anymore–they’re legitimate aspirations people want to pursue through meaningful work. Greed and competition were ’80’s cool. Green and collaboration are ’08’s cool.

The good news is that some employers have learned that people perform better in their jobs when they are doing what they believe matters to the world in some way and they have a hand in figuring out how to get it done. The more of your life you can bring into your work — and the more you feel you can contribute to people and projects you really care about — the happier and more productive at work you’re likely to be.

What I’ve learned boils down to this: In work, as in love, you’ve got to follow your heart.

These words are so easy for an old geezer to say, but so hard for most people to enact. My research shows, however, that there are a few simple principles that can help. Be real, by acting with authenticity and clarifying what’s important; be whole, by acting with integrity and respecting all aspects of life; and be innovative, by acting with creativity and experimenting with what you do and how you do it. More good news: Anyone can get better at bringing these principles to life and so perform better in all parts of their lives.You just have to make the effort to learn and then enlist others to push and encourage you.

These are hard times. So it’s more important than ever to focus on what matters most. Doing so increases the chances that you’ll come through with both your soul and your wallet holding something of value. You’ll be spending your precious time more intelligently — better aligned with your personal values, using more of your natural talents to pursue goals to which you’re genuinely committed.

As we in the U.S. celebrate Labor Day, and as we take a moment to

The Gene for God

Question: Would you please explain the VMAT2 gene, the "God gene"? Is that really the soul?

Answer:

No, a gene cannot be equated with the soul, nor is it equivalent to an experience of God. The connection with the VMAT2 gene with God is made by the geneticist Dean Hamer. The basic idea is that this gene is associated with the breakdown of monoamines, the neurotransmitters that are loosely connected to a kind of spiritual receptivity that is composed of the tendencies of: self-forgetfulness, connectivity to the universe, and an openness to accepting the unprovable.

Gotham Chopra: Palin Pregnancy Rumors

Almost as soon as Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was selected by
presidential hopeful John McBush to be his running mate, the whispers
started.

So goes the rumor, predicated on a lot of circumstantial evidence,
that Palin’s latest child, born just months ago, actually belongs to
her unwed 16 year old daughter Bristol.

Yikes.

However this blog is not meant to fan the flames or spread the rumor, more to instigate a conversation on “media literacy.”

So far, the Palin pregnancy whispers that first appeared on the blog
Daily Kos have only popped up on assorted political and gossip blogs.
I’ve yet to see or hear any reference to the rumors on any mainstream
sites and/or news networks. But there is NO WAY they are not aware of
the whispers.

Just weeks ago former democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards
confessed to an extra-marital affair on the ABC nightly news show
Nightline. Within minutes of the interview having been recorded,
reports on Edwards’ affair popped on thousand of “legit” news sites
around the world. Nightline had in essence legitimized the news and
hence given license to everyone else to run with it.

But the rumored affair had been long before been reported by the
tabloid The National Enquirer. Stemming from it, there had been
whispers for months on countless blogs and other sites. I know for a
fact from my friends who work in network news rooms that the whispers
had circulated amongst them as well. Hundreds of journalists were in on
the secret. And yet, no one had run with the report.

Former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer also comes to mind. When
news broke that he had been caught in a federal sting of a prostitution
ring, the news spread like wild fire. But as the days passed, it became
clear that many people in and around Washington D.C. were very well
aware of Spitzer’s decade -long infatuation with hookers. Surely some
of them may have been journalists and yet no one had run with what they
knew.

I guess you could say it’s responsible journalism not to run with
trashy rumors. Or you could say that it’s no one’s business really what
people do in their personal lives, no matter how scandalous. But then
again, in these cases, I’m not so sure.

Spitzer was known as a hardcore reformer, a bull dog who was
specifically on record for having previously brought down prostitution
rings and doing so with a lot of ballyhoo.

Edwards ran his campaign very much focused on his moral authority,
all the while as he was carrying on extra-marital affair with the very
woman who was documenting his so-called moral campaign.

In both cases, Spitzer’s and Edward’s indiscretions, albeit not at
all uncommon or unprecedented, seemed relevant to their respective
political roles and yet even in a hotly competitive news industry, no
one aside from a few gossip rags and/or blogsites, were willing to
break the story.

Now comes Palin and the pregnancy rumors that right now still are
very much in their nascent stage. Not sure yet if there is fire beyond
this smoke and personally – despite the fact that I’d love to see the
Red party’s campaign go up in flames – I have a hard time believing the
party’s operatives would not have vetted this out. Still, I am even
more fascinated by the news industry’s seeming collusion not to touch
it.

The strange irony is that we live in a time of real-time news.
Headlines, tickers, commentary on commentary, and endless talking heads
are everywhere all the time. The news in a non-stop, 24/7,
all-the-time, in your face industry. You would assume that some
journalist somewhere would run with such a salacious story just to make
a name for themselves, if nothing else. And yet, apparently not.

Strange stuff.

One thing I’ll guarantee you, though: this one will be all over the tabloids next week.

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