Is Work Hell?
“Some people say work is hell,” writes Fred Kofman in his brilliant book Conscious Business: How to Build Value through Values.
“I claim that work can be heaven. Heaven and hell are not realms of the afterlife, they are states of mind,” writes Fred. “When you live and work unconsciously, situations seem hellish, but when you intensify the light of awareness, the same situations seem heavenly.”
Fred’s invites us to view our work as “conscious business,” comprised of a set of seven skills and attitudes, including unconditional responsibility vs. unconditional blame, essential integrity vs. essential selfishness, and emotional mastery vs. emotional incompetence.
“There is more to work than making money,” he states. “It is possible to experience great joy as you engage in meaningful work of which you are proud; soulful work that confronts you with challenges and develops your skills; work that is aligned with your mission in life. This is work you enjoy doing for its own sake, work that provides you with significant material and spiritual rewards.”
Pursuing this path creates an entirely different relationship with our work.
“While you do this work you feel fully absorbed. Time seems to stop, and you enter into an extraordinary reality. Difficulties become creative challenges. You feel in control – not because you can guarantee the result, but because you trust yourself and know that you can respond skillfully,” Fred states.
At the heart of Fred’s concept of conscious business is a sense of feeling connected to something bigger. We “feel a bond with a community of purpose…, an exquisite intimacy, a sense of belonging to something larger than ourselves and yet completely at one with our true self.”
Reflecting on his own journey, Fred writes: “Most importantly, I discovered that happiness and fulfillment don’t come from pleasure but from meaning, from pursuit of a noble purpose.”
Reflection: Reflect on what I consider a “peak” period of my professional life. Identify the elements that made it so. Are there any elements missing now? How could I re-introduce them?
Action: Choose an element from your list and do it. Today.