P2: Organize Your Speech — Introduces the basic concepts of organizing a speech around a speech outline.
How to Find Fulfilling Work
Good evening fellow Toastmasters.
According to the 2014 World Business Review, Singapore maintains its number 1 ranking for the longest working hours of its citizens in the world, with an average worker spending roughly 9.5 hours at work everyday. With this form of work culture taking up 60% of our waking hours, I believe that we should reevaluate what we want and do in our workplace, and this brings me to my topic for today which is — how to find fulfillment in our careers.
The concept of work has evolved through history. From the agrarian lifestyle we worked to meet our basic needs, to the industrial revolution which brought in mass production and consumerism to society. And now to our 21stcentury lifestyle, with its abundance of resources and information, the expectations of today’s work force has evolved. We now desire a role which not only meets our basic needs of a salary but also embodies our life’s passions, desires and dreams.
The first step to finding fulfilling work, is the process of understanding ourselves. Our interest and our talents should align with a career that can bring out the best in us. In our current career pathway, we are meant to make monumental decisions of what we want to do, where do we want to study, and what future can we imagine, by the end of our schooling years. These hasty decisions during a time where we have yet to even recognize ourselves, leads to a future career that is justified based on the fear of market demand and job security. Self-discovery comes from logic of thought, experiences in our lives and lessons we take from others. There are vast horizons we can explore to find ourselves, we can try to change our role in the company — find a new job scope we are interested in, if not we can look to take on a new volunteering role and expanding hobbies which could lead to a future venture. Through these examples, what I am proposing is that we start with being free from fear, to step out of our discontented comfort zone and take the initiative to discover what calls to our souls.
The second idea to finding fulfilling work is the concept of craftsmanship and ownership to our work. This theory is attributed to Adam Smith an economist, who argues that capitalism is an economic model which prioritizes efficiency and productivity rather than social value and enjoyment. This strong emphasis on specialization at the work place, turns most job roles into a repetitive and meaningless task. The concept of Craftsmanship which he advocates for, is to bring back the idea of being in control of our work. Empowering people to take ownership of their task and developing a relationship that imparts the essence of our character within what they do. With the advent of the internet and globalization, we have come to an information age of self-empowerment. There are many opportunities for Entrepreneurship which enable us to find a niche and a market that we can develop ourselves. We need to bring back this sense of pride and ownership in our jobs where we produce something that is a part of us, rather than being like a tiny cog in a soulless machine.
And the final concept of finding fulfilling work, which taps into the intrinsic human side we all share, is our contribution to society. The New York Times 2015 notes that most workers, who engage with a strong human connection in their work such as healthcare, social activism and volunteering, find their day to day task more meaningful. We need to take time to understand our current roles and if we are helping the people we really value in society. For this we need to question, does money and power give us the happiness we desire, or is leaving a legacy for the people in need and for generations to come a little more rewarding? We all have the capacity to make the world a better place, we just need to start questioning if our work is contributing to the society we want and if not what can we change about it.
I conclude with this example of Google who introduced the concept of Innovation Time Off (ITO). This is an initiative to develop more fulfilling work lives for their employees. The company gives employees 20% of their work hours to venture on a project of their interest which is not related to work. They are able to use the time and resources of the company to find a project they are passionate and develop it during work hours. In the long run, this not only improves morale of the company but it also becomes a platform for new products or ventures that boosts productivity and increases corporate revenue as well.
In essence, this venture meets the demand for fulfillment at work, by setting out time for staff to discover their own talents, by empowering them to take control of a job cycle, and by giving them an avenue to make a contribution to the society and a cause that they believe in.
Aristotle once said, “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.” Work is something we all spend 60% of our waking hours doing, shouldn’t we spend this limited resource of time on something that can give us the greatest sense of achievement?
The intention of this speech was to explore and address the lack of enthusiasm I see many people face in their professional lives. Through this journey, I was to learn that fulfillment at work was a new concept in our modern age, and it is a progression from our basic needs being met with the abundance of resources in our times. And it posed the question from perspectives such as my parents’ generation, do we have the right to ask for a sense of fulfillment in our work lives or should work just be work and we continue our personal lives of fulfillment outside work. But to me it is an important question of our times and is a social debilitation that should be addressed. I do acknowledge that with the abundance of choice, we end up in this incessant cycle of comparison and never being satisfied. But in our quest for fulfillment, there lies the quest to find our passions and to give meaning to an activity that takes up half our lives. What would it mean to be able to give a sense of pride and achievement to every individual worker who feels like they are working for a cause that they believe in. The amount of pride and ownership we could have in our everyday products and the amount of exploration and discovery we could achieve with people motivate and engaged. But yes reality is not so idealistic and as with this speech, there is no default answer to how to find fulfillment at work. But is an important question we should ask and as a society also address.
Originally published at qpskpii.wordpress.com on February 1, 2017.