This week on the podcast I produce (family360), a guest made a provocative proclamation about work.
An authority on the science of play, he said,
"Work is not about fulfillment, work is about achievement."
Achievement versus fulfillment.
His words piqued my curiosity, and I'm thinking of them still.
As someone who feels fulfilled in his work, I'm trying to reconcile the two perspectives.
I can see how some people seek fulfillment outside of their work. Their work, though seemingly mundane, affords them the freedom to pursue fulfillment in their off-work time.
Yet fulfillment IN work gives rise to the oft-quoted line,
"If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life."
Achievement and fulfillment can be awkward dance partners whose steps become so intertwined we often confuse one for the other.
When we mistake our achievement in work as fulfillment we run the risk of misdirected blind ambition, as Catholic mystic and writer Thomas Merton eloquently stated, "Climbing to the top of our ladder only to realize we've leaned it against the wrong wall", much like people on their deathbed lamenting the amount of time they'd spent at the office.
When we mistake our fulfillment in work as our achievement then personal satisfaction becomes the sole measurement of our work. We run the risk of self-absorption, fashioning a coat to the cut of our own tastes.
Achievement measures and is logical.
Fulfillment feels and is emotional.
Recognizing achievement and fulfillment as separate steps opens the floor to new dance moves.
Depending on context.
Context is where our priorities and passions reveal themselves.
And whether we can dance...