The business of life and how to answer, “what do you do?”
The concept of work-life balance is moot, in my opinion. Unlike the chicken-or-the-egg conundrum, I think we can all agree that life came before business. However, because we spend at least one-third of our time at work, business sometimes appears to take priority over life. So, when people ask “What do you do?”, it can be at best increasingly difficult to answer or at worst somewhat depressing. Unless…
If you’re anything like me (and most of Gen Y, I’m guessing), you’ve got a lot going on in both “work” and “life” halves of the equation. But when people asked me, “What do you do?”, until recently, I only shared the pieces of information that made up the work half of the equation. And it always left me feeling a little incomplete. Many things transpired before I began to see the value in my personal pursuits and how those things nurture me as a person. Then, at a women’s conference late last year, one of the speakers, Rebel Black, said something that I would never forget: “Ask others not, “What do you do?”, but “Who are you?”
On Friday, I was awarded the Young Business Executive Award at my city’s Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s annual awards for business excellence. My application didn’t only detail the professional achievements within my current and previous organisations; it included personal pursuits and achievements, which, I believe, together with the former illustrated my approach to the business of life and the success and outcomes that can be achieved through such an approach. Never forget that as individuals we are whole – business or work is but a part of the puzzle, a sector of the pie, which makes us who we are.
Don’t sell yourself short. Your personal interests and pursuits are part of what makes you unique. They demonstrate your skills, talents and abilities. What motivates and drives you personally are likely the things that motivate and drive you professionally. Together, these provide you with personal insight into your purpose, vision and values.
At the end of the day, life and business are one in the same. Business is just a name we gave something that someone once started because they liked something (dance lessons, anyone?), or because they saw a problem and wanted to fix it. It started with the person (who embodies life) so everything comes back to the individual. Our work is not just a thing we do, but also an extension of who we are.
When we turn up or present in any situation, ready and equipped with all the things we know and the desire to learn that which we don’t with the same hunger we have for life, great things will happen. Work hard in all areas of life and you will reap the rewards you desire and those you didn’t even know you wanted.
So, the next time someone asks you, “What do you do?”, what will you say?