Meaning is the last of Dan Pink’s six senses for the Conceptual Age. Pink has to walk a tightrope here between spirituality and organized religion. For many of us, as we age and have kids, the “why are we here?” question looms larger. And surprise, surprise, if employees feel like their work is meaningful it becomes more rewarding and they become more productive.
I was surprised to see Labyrinths covered. My mum, proving again how prescient she can be, got into them about 5 years ago, and I had no idea what the appeal was. She even launched a directory to Australian labyrinths. Don’t confuse them with mazes. Mazes offer one right direction and many wrong ones and the goal is to get out. Labyrinths are all about the journey: you walk in a spiral and reflect.
This important topic includes some really good exercises:
- Say Thanks: being grateful increases contentment and happiness. David Freudberg has covered this on HumanKind. Don’t just save it up for Thanksgiving. I’ve tried to think of one thing to be grateful for once-a-day for the last 3 months and it is definitely rewarding to do this. I like the idea of a birthday list – for every year write down one new thing to be grateful for.
- Dedicate Your Work: this is a beautiful and simple idea. If you’re doing something that matters (say a presentation), make a quiet, genuine dedication to someone that matters to you.
- 20-10 Test: Jim Collins suggests you ask yourself two questions: If you had $20 million in the bank, OR only 10 years to live, would you be doing what you’re doing now. I like the time-frame he uses because the die tomorrow would suggest much more radical action that might not be warranted – 10 years is actually plenty of time to do some interesting things, but no so long as to waste another year.
- Picture Yourself At Ninety: What will your life be like? What will you have done? Who will your friends be? Stephen Covey talked about Leaving a Legacy and thinking about how would you be remembered. Like the 20:10 test this can help provide focus and motivation on what you should be doing now.
- Use AND to fix the BUTs: “I’d like to read more, but I can’t find the time” is solved with the addition of “So, I need to get books on tape so I can listen on the go and in the gym”. Think of all the things you want to be doing, but have a potted excuse for not doing. Then think of something concrete you can do to make them happen.
- Take a Sabbath: Check out of email and news for a day per week. A good way to recharge. Love him or hate him, Tim Ferriss’ media holiday is actually pretty relaxing – no news for a week. (Just got completely distracted because the second Google suggestion after Tim Ferriss is Tim Ferriss scam! This led me too Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist. I’m going to have to subscribe (and now Inc. has her listed one of top 19 blogs to read) – authentic writing and confirmed many niggles in my head about Mr Ferriss – a few nuggets of truth amplified in a story and sold as hope.) I had a really great chat, with a buddy on a run, about how the interesting news is the indicators of trends and analysis of trends, not random events like the Balloon Boy or yet another bombing in a country ending in -stan. On that topic, it’s interesting how The Daily Show is actually a better source of news and news analysis than any of the mainstream news shows. This sidebar really needs a full post.
- Check Your Time: This is revealing and motivating. Keep track of everything you do. I’ve done this in 1/2 hour blocks for about a month now. You discover how much time you’re wasting and if you know you have to record that 1/2 hour’s activities at the end of it, it tends to get you back on track. In case it’s not obvious, you’ll want to turn this off on non-working days, unless you’re trying to make best use of your leisure time or understand how you are using it.
Hopefully this review of the six senses was helpful. Mr. Pink includes a brief afterword to inspire readers to engage their right brain now in the “age of art and heart”. What exercises will you try? Could you make your life and work a little richer?