The Job of Your Life with Karen Schaffer

Get out of your rut and find your passion

Archive for June, 2009

A Thought from Po Bronson

Posted by Karen on June 23, 2009

“I’ve been all over the country,” I said. “And what I’ve found is that…if you succeed at something in which you’re honest to yourself and in line with your values and not wearing a mask to the world, then that does seem to make people happy. It’s not a mirage. When you succeed and you’re still unhappy, it’s usually because in your heart you’re conflicted about how you accomplished it or whether you really deserved or, most likely, that you’re conflicted about what you’ve presented about yourself to the world.”

 Po Bronson, What Should I Do With My Life?

Posted in Career Exploration, Quotation | Leave a Comment »

We Aren’t Taught About The Value of Space

Posted by Karen on June 5, 2009

Just as a follow up to the previous post, I just had to share something I saw in the free Metro paper handout yesterday.

So in the paper they have this Canada-wide “Word on the Street” poll, with a little on-the-street photo of about six people, their ages, their city and their on-the-spot quote (we assume) when asked a question. Yesterday’s question was “Should Canada have more legislated vacation days?”.

I’m going to pick on Richard Kevis here, age 19 from Calgary. Richard, caught on camera with slightly untidy long hair and a rocking sunglasses/black blazer/no tie with his collared shirt look, served up this gem of an answer:

“Probably not. Days off aren’t really practical. They’re not really used for anything. They’re not really necessary to the system”.

We can speculate as to whether Richard Kevis, age 19, Calgary was having us on, or if he truly believes that no one “uses” days off productively and therefore aren’t necessary to the Kafkaesque machine we like to call “work” but it’s interesting to hear what bubbles under most people’s thinking about time off so blatantly. We have not been taught that it is wise – nay essential – to have space from our work. We don’t get great or easily accessible models for spaciousness and how that might link to productivity, creativity or even the ability to rest and re-charge.

We had a model once, long ago, in the Christian world, that went something like “And on the seventh day God rested” but lately we have all started to act like God was a bit of a wuss, and that spaciousness is a sign that we’re getting soft or lazy. I meet so many people (myself included) who have a secret suspicion they’re lazy.

We’re not. We’re exhausted.

Some of the things I love to say when I teach yoga is “Enjoy the spaces between the postures” and “Enjoy the resting posture, the counter-posture to the active movements. Observe how this rest allows you to feel the energy you’ve created”. Often students come up to me after to tell me how much they liked that direction, in part because we tend to devalue the parts of the yoga class where it seems like we’re not “doing” anything. But we are. We are observing our energy releasing. We are enjoying the active part of our practice from the restful state. We are allowing the active postures into our being.

Holidays serve as that same spaciousness to our life. They allow us to sit back, appreciate who we are, where we’ve come from, what we’ve achieved and what we’d like to be doing. Often, it’s not that conscious a process. We don’t think at all (and perhaps this is Richard’s real protest). We happily “don’t think” about anything but jumping into the cottage lake, or enjoying our families, or visiting a new place, or sitting in the back yard reading the paper cover to cover and weeding the petunias. Little do we know it, but our “don’t think” period refreshes us at the deepest levels, allowing (wait for it) SPACE for new ideas to emerge. I bet you all have had the experience of moving away from something you’re working on, and coming back to it fresh with new ideas after a bit of a mental ‘holiday’.

So…thank you Richard for your opinion. You made me laugh and you also made me think about how to start better speaking the value of space.

Enjoy your summer vacations!

Posted in Career Exploration, Careers and Work in the News, Yoga and Career Exploration | 1 Comment »

Reflecting on Contemplative Learning

Posted by Karen on June 5, 2009

What’s the difference between contemplation and reflection?

I had an interesting insight from someone who is doing work in diversity and religious studies who uses a “contemplative” model. She discussed how this was different from (though complimentary to) the reflective model. I was curious so I asked the difference.

The Reflective learning model – is all about observation, the ability to conciously analyze what we feel, see, observe.

The Contemplative learning model – is about more than analysis; it is about creating space around the questions so that something new and fresh can emerge. It’s not from an intellectual place, but from somewhere else inside ourselves.

I love that other disciplines are trying to define the same essence I’ve been trying to understand for the last few years of my career. We must be headed for a global breakthrough in the subject. It’s no accident that the “new” step I added to the updated version “The Job of Your Life” is Spaciousness.

Without space, the analysis can paralyze the observer. Without space, we are locked up in thought. Without space, there is no actual “newness”.

Posted in Authentic Job Search, Career Exploration | 3 Comments »