Updated: Mar 28
“We are all a piece of the puzzle that makes up our humanity, each with our unique and intrinsic value to contribute, that keeps our world turning effectively. So where does the fear come from that has forced us to fit ourselves into the wrong space, taken someone else’s role, that has us joining the ranks of the 80% of individuals unhappy in their work?”
Have you ever wondered about the systems that make up our day to day lives and questioned why they seem so upside down? When I was a child I would curiously wonder when I saw people driving to work in another town in one direction, and other people doing the same in the other direction, and think why don't they just swap? It made no sense to me to waste what I saw as such valuable time. We are on this beautiful planet of ours for such a short period of time and much of that is spent at work.
When I discovered some years back that 80% of people were unhappy in their work, a statistic that appears to be getting worse, I joined a movement called 'Live Your Legend' (LYL) for people who wanted to find purpose in how they contributed to the world. This was founded, and supported by, a dynamic young man, Scott Dinsmore, and his wife Chelsea, to help people find work that was joyful and meaningful. I had watched his video and was so inspired to see he had left a job he hated and moved half way across the USA to an environment he felt was more fitting to what he needed to optimise who he was and bring his best self to the world. This was the start of the LYL movement.
What made his life especially inspiring to me, was observing how he and his wife Chelsea, sold everything they possessed to travel the world, with an intention to connect with the LYL Community on their travels, and many people can attest to the time they spent with Scott and Chelsea as they visited a number of places. Scott wanted people to live life intentionally and on purpose without any regrets, and in a strange twist of fate, he was to leave this planet doing exactly that, living his legend. On a beautiful sunny day in September 2015, Scott Dinsmore passed away whilst nearing the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, after being hit by falling rocks. Summiting this mountain had been a dream of his and I couldn't help thinking when I heard of his passing, that he had modelled this zest for life, with his infectious energy, radiant smile and enthusiasm, right up until the very end, and there is so much we can all take from this.
We'll spend approximately one third of our time at work, which equates to around 90,000 hours of our lives. The systemic and unintentional consequences that come from not enjoying one's work can have far reaching negative consequences, yet equally, living your life on purpose can spread infectious postive energy that can lift both your spirit and others you choose to engage with. We are our happiest when we are helping others, and I like to believe this is by design.
When you think back to a time when you helped another person, can you recall how great you felt?
So where did the narrative come from that we cannot find work we love, and that we must take any job that DOESN'T match our intrinsic wiring just because we need to put bread on the table? Surely it takes as much energy to find a job you love as it does to find a job you hate? What we need are new narratives to remind ourselves that we actually get what we focus on, so to shift our consciousness towards loving ourselves first and being true to our natural wiring when searching for roles and environments within which to work, remembering this is a conscious intentional choice.
Often we are unsure where to start, I guess because we don't actually know who we are right? Yet if you look back to a time where you were your happiest and most fulfilled, this is a hint to being in what Mihaly Csikszentmihaly referred to in his research as being in the flow - a space where we get lost in time because we are so emotionally engaged in an activity. This is because how we are participating actually matches our intrinsic wiring.
I remember having a Change Management Assignment to complete when I was engaged at University in Futures Studies. My husband and I had planned to meet friends in Italy on the Amalfi Coast around the same time as the submission date. So I decided I would hand the assignment in 3 weeks early, because I just knew I was going to get an A, freeing myself to go and enjoy some special quality time. By the time I had completed the assignment I looked at the clock and it was 4am. What??? I am definitely not one to work after 5pm if I can help it lol. Yet i'm wired for Change Management, its in my motivational DNA, and yes I received my A grade.
We owe it, not only to ourselves, but to others and the environments within which we contribute to change the systems that make up our day to day lives, because our impact on ourselves, others, and the environment at large is better off for it. It is unsustainable NOT to be engaged in activities we love. When I look around and see mental and physiological health issues increasing globally, suicide rates increasing and victims getting younger by the day, hoarding, substance abuse, crime, violence, etc as systemic undertones of our world I know we have to start addressing root causes. Gaining an understanding our intrinsic wiring and thereafter finding work we love is a massive start.
"Your cross to bear is your gift to share" Sam McDonald
We can also look because to understand how we got to now. Many of us have overcome adversity and this surprisingly builds confidence. Yet what we often miss is that this also informs our purposes in life. Whatever you have overcome has built your resilience and it is this that can become your greatest gift to share with others. Building WITH-HUMANITY has come from living many years of my own life on the fringes, feeling marginalised by my lack of educational qualifications and incorrectly believing I would be judged by others if I had to admit to my own insecurities. Yet stepping into the person I was born to be, even with my stereotypical 'Male Strengths' where I was told i'm too strong, too loud, too bolshy and formidable, I've been able to look this straight between the eyes and ask myself what's right with these traits and learn to bring them interdependently so I am conscious and intentional around my impact on self, others, and the environments at large, and yes, this is our ongoing journey.
We are moving into the future at rapidly increasing rates of change and none of us are immune from the fast pace world we are all experiencing. Sadly, as things stand, none of us will ever leave our school knowing who we are and this can move us and our children onto a trajectory of participation in the world without consciousness and into work we were NOT born to do. Yet conversely, its those individuals who are investing in self-knowledge that are making conscious choices for themselves, like Scott Dinsmore, to live life on purpose and experiencing the beautiful ripple affect this can have on our lives in multiple systemic ways, impacting our relationships, our health, and most importantly, our agency.
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Sam McDonald has been married for 30 yeas and has four children. They are a Strength-based family, using the CliftonStrengths® to enhance marriage & family life. Their home is in Hampton Court, UK and the FalseBay Coast, Cape, SA. She is a Futurist and Chief Visionary Officer for WITH-HUMANITY, a change-maker with a dream to disrupt our current meritocracy by "Unlocking the IntrinsicIdentity © of all Individuals in service of greater human engagement" creating an all inclusive universal value metric and social system.
She is a Normative Visionary, Systems Thinker, Disruptor, Change-Maker & Activist. Graduating Cum Laude with an MPhil in Futures Studies from the University of Stellenbosch, after failing matric, she believes matching one's intrinsic wiring to how we learn yields exponential results, leap-frogging our current education system. She influences thinking in order to create futures-led enquiry & change towards a future we all want to be part of - linking strategic leadership and management with futures thinking. Her use of Interdependent Rules of Engagement© and the CliftonStrength® Assessment, as well as various Foresight Methodologies, are tools of choice to influence mindset change, and help people understand each other's unique world views, which are coloured by what she terms our Strengths Language.
She moved to South Africa in 1983 from Nottingham, UK and has lived in both dysfunction and functional environments. These she views as her "cross to bear is your gift to share" - serving as a bridge in understanding how to create function out of chaos.
She and her fellow Coaches, work with motivated clients using the CliftonStrength® Assessment as a power tool for:
Strength Based Interviewing & Recruitment
Assisting motivated individuals to fall in love with their careers and find the work they were born to do.
Working with high achievers to discover their value and purpose
Working with Start-ups to gain momentum, motivation & self-awareness of the Entrepreneur
Assisting Students to gain a greater self-awareness, expediting their career path, building confidence and self-esteem.
Working with individuals to re-engage in their work environments & leveraging their strengths
Working with marriage relationships to help you love again and understand the toxicity, reduce negative experiences, create understanding and, in turn, assist with long-term strategies for lasting transformation
Finding your true Purpose, Passion and Value in Life
Falling in love with your life and work again
She teaches the 'Interdependent Rules of Engagement© & Vulnerability' to focus on living 'Interdependence' as the key to healthier environments - choosing this as 'rules of engagement' over 'Dependence', 'Co-Dependence' & 'Independence'.