As we celebrate 72 years of India’s independence with enthusiasm, I was thinking about what freedom means to me as a professional. How does freedom look like at work? Based on 22 years of my journey as a professional, 18 years in corporate jobs and the last 4 plus years as a Coach & Facilitator, I have a few thoughts around this. During this journey of over two decade, I have worked with hundreds of colleagues from various geographies around the world and my views around, what freedom means at work, also got shaped through this journey.
When I look at freedom at work, the following aspects come to mind:
Purpose at work – Most importantly, are you finding purpose at work? Is it setting you free to be who you want to be or is it holding you back? Are you getting the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the world through your work? Are you making a difference through your skills and talents? Happiest are those professionals who have found a life of purpose. I had written a blog a few weeks back about “Why do People Become Coaches?“
What kind of work – Most of us start our careers fresh out of college and take up jobs suitable to our qualifications. For most of us, there are limited choices at the beginning, so we start where we get the first appropriate opportunity. Here do we have the freedom to choose what kind of work we do? Or is it more of making the most of what’s available? As we progress through our careers, we start building our skills and capabilities. In my experience, it is always best to go with what your Strengths are and choose the work that energizes you and brings the best out of you. In my experience, professionals experience peak performance and joy when they are working on something, they are great at and passionate about. Here’s a Case Study of one of my clients who at his mid-career chose to go with his strengths and found his mojo back.
How you work – Everyone has his/her own style of working. Some of us have high task based focus and go about things in a very methodical way. Whereas, some of us are more spontaneous and prefer to go with flow. One must find his own preference and what works best for them. Challenges are experienced when we do not recognize our own preference and fail to understand other peoples’ working styles. For example, one of my clients complained about his frustration at work caused by his boss who had high task focus and detail orientation whereas my client preferred flexibility and spontaneity. That’s where the conflict was arising from. Having worked with hundreds of clients in the last 4 plus years, I find it useful to know one’s personality so that we can make choices that work for us and empathize with others who may have different preferences.
When to work – Work-life balance has become very important in today’s fast paced world. There are many of us, who are working mothers and fathers taking care of children. There are many of us who are caring for old parents. For many, pursuing hobbies, interests and passions are equally important as work. Another aspect is, what time of the day one prefers to work. Some people prefer to start early morning and finish by afternoon. Whereas some prefer to use their morning time for self and use the later half of the day for work. Do you have this time flexibility today? Many people are opting for organizations which provide flexible working hours option.
Where to work – Technology has made it possible to work from anywhere at least in some industries such as IT and other Knowledge Services industries. I know Coaches who travel around the world and continue to work on the go. I had been to a Himalayan trek a couple of months back and I worked for a few days even from the mountains. For those who are interested, here is my blog about my Himalayan trekking experience. These days, the world has come closer through technology and there are many tools such as Skype/Zoom which make virtual teamwork seamless. Working in virtual teams is very common today.
With whom you work – It’s becoming increasingly important with who you work. These days professionals try to find out the culture of the organization, the team with whom they are going to work before they join a new organization. As you know, there are portals such as Glassdoor where you can get inside scoop on companies with employee reviews and more. One of my clients was unhappy because she was asked to do things against her value of honesty. People experience dissatisfaction when the organizational values are not aligned to your personal values.
What rewards you get – Are you getting compensated and rewarded fairly for your work? Everyone would choose the employer which rewards them best. Rewards may mean different things to different people. Rewards could be monitory or non-monitory such as learning opportunities, growth opportunities, recognition, travelling and working with different cultures, mentoring and career guidance offered by the company and so on. Are you choosing the best for yourself?
Let me ask you, are you exercising your freedom to choose your work? Are you choosing the best options to make a meaningful contribution to the world through your work? If not, can you imagine how your life would be if you can do that?
In my view, possibilities are limitless, the question is – are you giving yourself that freedom to become what you can be.