We Are What We Do - Or Are We?

A different way of thinking about work - and life

Adobe Stock Photo/licensed

Imagine being at a party where you don’t know many people, or you’re sitting between strangers on a plane, or you’re at a conference and someone turns to you. 

You exchange greetings. Say it’s nice to be here, maybe make a comment about the weather or where you’re from. Basic pleasantries.

And then, what is the number one question they ask?

WHAT DO YOU DO?

And you say,

“Oh, I’m a programmer.”

“I’m in Human Resources.”

“I’m the CEO of Company X”

“I’m a salesman for Y”

We ARE what we do.

Or are we?

I was at a networking event recently and thought I’d mix it up a bit.

I had my nametag on and was milling around with a plastic cup of sparkling water, when someone approached me.

“Hi, Jody, I’m Jim.” We shook hands, exchanged pleasantries…

And what did Jim ask me next?

........

“Thanks for asking. Well, I do lots of things. Most of all I try to exercise every day, I eat fish a lot, I say hi to strangers whenever I can, and, oh, I’m in the middle of planning my next Misogi.”

Jim just looked at me.

“Yeah, I’m deciding between every 14er in Colorado or creating the largest global online community for work happiness.”

“A Miss, what?” Jim asked.

I had a feeling he would zero in on that.

We spent the next 10 minutes talking about Misogi’s –

Do you know what a Misogi is? 

The word Misogi came from an ancient Shinto ritual of cold water self-purification after returning from the underworld. A renewal, a change, a new way of being.

But Misogi has evolved. It has become the buzz word for a challenge that takes you way outside your comfort zone. For creating change that goes beyond the ordinary.

Athletes are doing it….

Here is

NBA Bulls Center Joakim Noah training with surfing legend Laird Hamilton.

Companies are doing it too. Of course, we all know about the classic examples of stretching beyond the comfort zone with products like:

The iPhone, iPad, Laptop Computer, iTunes

Post it notes

Driverless cars

Drones

3D Printers

Here are some new ones….

When a Misogi is achieved, you should begin to understand and embrace the attitude that anything is possible.

But the best part of a Misogi is that it has to meet the criteria of a 50% or greater chance of failure. So, deciding to visit 10 wineries in a weekend would not exactly be a Misogi, especially if you like wine. Chances are you’ll pass that one easily. Just don’t drink and drive.

Let’s look at a Misogi as it relates to work happiness.

Maybe you are charged with creating a new happiness culture at your place of work. You might be the CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) or part of the Human Resources team. Now I think this is a fun job. But it’s a tough one too and you probably have more than a 50% chance of failure. So, this could be your Misogi.

Not only do you have to create this new culture, you have to get management to buy into what they may think is a guru, fluffy way of life. And you have to assign a value to it that they can understand in order to get them on board.

Does it contribute to the bottom line?
Will it increase revenues?
Is it expensive to implement?
Yes. Yes. And no. 

Or, you may be leading a company and want to understand more about this happiness at work idea – which has become a global Misogi movement. You want to learn more about this new kind of culture that can help you keep employees engaged and onboard and can potentially carry you to the top of your industry.

You may want to be more like Google (a leader in employee happiness). OK, maybe you don’t want people to bring their pets to work, but you might want to implement some of their strategies; like a campus type atmosphere where conveniences are available on site, free healthy food, dry cleaning and massages (I like the massages part) or paid sabbaticals when people get burned out.

You are open to learning and willing to consider change. Your Misogi could be to start the process of creating a happiness culture inside your company. That’s a big reach for you, especially if you aren’t doing anything now to keep your employees happy beyond pay, promotion and praise.

Finally, you may be an employee who isn’t happy at work and wants to know how to be. 

What could your Misogi be when it comes to work happiness? How about practicing specific things that will get you to happy every day of your work week, so that you are waking up on Monday saying TGIM instead of looking forward to TGIF? Now that’s a Misogi.

In my work as a Career/Life Coach and Company Happiness Strategist, I make a habit of following all of the latest Gallup Polls about happiness at work and employee engagement. The number went just past 50% for the first time recently, which is good news; but we still have a long way to go. So basically, slightly less than half of employees are happy at work. 

So achieving happiness at work for everyone in your company can be a huge Misogi. Would you agree?

Do you know what the best part of a Misogi is?

When you complete one, not only do you understand that anything is possible, your personal performance rises, you feel empowered, more confident and the idea part of your brain expands. Scientific Research in this area is just getting started.

One word of caution though. 

Misogi's are meant to be practiced on a continual basis or the effects can fade. As we forget about the clarity we’ve achieved, we also lose conviction and may end up on the other side of happiness once again. So, practicing what you learn from achieving your Misogi is crucial to lasting effect.

So go ahead and try a happiness Misogi at your office tomorrow, the next day or throughout the year.

And as for those of you who need to put a price on creating a happiness culture at your place of work.

Number One. Happiness is priceless. 

If everyone in your company was happy at work, then it would be their favorite place to be. They would be more engaged, having more fun, contributing more and probably spending even more of their time here. Now that’s priceless.

But if you have to put a price on it, here are some statistics that might convince you.

1. According to research by Gallup, companies with happy employees outperform their peer companies by 4x.

2. Companies with happy people perform better, drive revenues to the tune of 147% increases

3. The reduction in “sick days,” vacation days and time off for wanting to climb back in bed, costs companies over $500 billion in lost revenues.

So, yes, having happier employees contributes to the bottom line, increases revenues and doesn’t cost much to implement, because you don't do it all at once.

You do it methodically, in stages that you can measure. 

We aren't what we do in terms of our work title. But we are what we do in terms of life.

Live yours to the fullest, throw in a Misogi now and then, and watch your personal performance and that of your company reach heights you never imagined.

And as for Jim, who I met at the conference. As he left, he turned to me and said,

"You never told me what you do."

"Sure I did."

"I meant for work."

"Oh. I spread happiness."

"Yes, you do," Jim said. "See you at the cocktail party."

I didn't just engage in small talk. I made a friend, a colleague, and maybe even a new customer.


Career and Life Coach Jody B. Miller is author of the new book “From DRIFT to SHIFT: How Change Can Bring True Meaning and Happiness to Your Work and Life.” As CEO of C2C Executive Search & Strategic Management, Miller has helped thousands of people find true meaning in their work and in their lives. Learn more at www.JodyBMiller.com.
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