How do you respond when people you meet ask about what you do for a living? Regardless of career choice, most of these conversations revolve around the superficial aspects of the work. We might ask or be asked, “What exactly do you do?” “Where do you work?”, “What are the perks?”, “How did you get into that career?”, “What are you working on now?”, etc.
While these questions can certainly lead to deeper conversations, we tend to only share the surface view of what we do. Maybe it’s because we don’t think others will care or understand about the “real” work, or maybe it’s just that in the context of the conversation, we don’t feel that it’s appropriate to get into why you do what you do. Burgess (2012) challenges us to think about our “mighty purpose” and how we intentionally work towards it each and every day. He argues that having a mighty purpose motivates you to be at your best and keeps you moving forward despite all the obstacles and setbacks that you experience in your work.
The latter part of his book, “Teach like a Pirate,” focuses on framing your mindset for success and purpose-driven work. He reminds us that to be great rather than just good or good enough, we have to invest “a significant amount of extra time and effort. It demands a relentless pursuit of excellence, self-improvement, and a never-ending commitment to grow and stay on the cutting edge” (Burgess, 2012, Location No. 1771). Now that can either scare you away from even trying to be great or inspire you to achieve your best!
If we don’t believe that personal satisfaction is necessary to sustain us in our work, then we may find ourselves burning out, constantly switching careers, or even miserable and dreading the day to day monotony that we experience at work. The company Imperative’s (www.imperative.com) stated mission is “empowering Purpose-Oriented Workers and supporting organizations that embrace them. We believe together they have the power to transform the economy and society.”
Their definition of purpose is “something that we gain daily from relationships, doing something greater than ourselves and from personal and professional growth.” Imperative’s entire philosophy is based on the understanding that our individual mighty purpose which drives us to greatness, is an integral part of what will make our society great.
Their CEO and co-founder, Aaron Hurst, writes, “In studying job crafting, the process of redesigning a job to boost meaning, (researchers) found that people could increase their sense of purpose by adjusting their tasks, relationships and approach to their work. These are all actions we can take in just about any job. They don’t require re-writing your job description” (Hurst, 2014, para 4). He goes on to outline how to begin that process of job crafting, in similar fashion to how Burgess challenges us to focus our energies, efforts, and perspectives. Lam (2014) suggests that effective teachers are those who…
…make a difference,
…are open minded,
embraces change, and
These all sound like an educator driven by a mighty purpose, not one who necessarily has the latest tech tools or has been a teacher the longest. When we begin to compare ourselves to others, we set ourselves up for failure. All of these things that we expect of students, we find very challenging to achieve in our work.
So what is my mighty moral purpose… I have a problem solving nature that thrives on challenges and striving to do my best work. On a personal and professional level, I find that signing my work with excellence drives me and motivates me regardless of the task ahead. I find great personal and professional satisfaction when I create, produce, or support work that demonstrates the very best of my abilities. I’ve always been drawn to empowering others, not just helping them, or enabling them to achieve success but to increase their capacity and fulfill their potential for success.
I believe that this mighty purpose allows me to be effective in my work because I am not afraid of working hard to produce greatness and I can walk away feeling proud of my commitment and contributions.
Burgess, D. (2012). Teach like a Pirate: Increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an educator [Kindle version]. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Hurst, A. (April 30, 2014). Lost the meaning in your work? Here are nine ways to get it back. Idealistcareers.org. Retrieved from: http://idealistcareers.org/lost-the-meaning-of-your-work-here-are-9-ways-to-get-it-back/
Imperative.com (2015). Mission statement and definition of purpose. Imperative Group, Inc.: New York.
Lam, C. (July 5, 2014). 11 Habits of an Effective Teacher [weblog]. George Lucas Educational Foundation. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/discussion/11-habits-effective-teacher
Two blogs in particular stood out for me this week, Tyler’s and Theresa’s blogs really hit home some important aspects of professional satisfaction and effectiveness as a teacher. Theresa shared a list of strategies for effectiveness in teaching and several of those points really highlighted my mighty purpose:
Having clear goals and intellectual challenges is extremely important; as we design learning experiences, we cannot forget the perspective of the student or learner. While we have the vision and the bigger picture, learners are ultimately the ones who will experience the learning as they move towards that vision – and no one enjoys traveling in a fog to get to some unknown destination!
Independence, control, and active engagement are the holy grail of learning; we want students to be confident in directing their learning and we need to show them we believe they are capable and deserving of this engaging experience. Each learner brings a unique perspective to the group and claiming that voice and independence only adds value to the group learning dynamic. Students benefit and teachers benefit – it’s a win-win!
Learning from students has always been one of my favorite aspects of teaching. Being a facilitator of learning or guide on the side is not just a strategy; being an effective teacher means that we gain something from the interaction with students who are learning. They inspire us to bring more innovation and engagement and we model what learning looks like, sounds like, feels like, etc. How else can we know that the learning we have designed is not only effective but engaging as well!
Tyler shared his passion and zeal for teaching with such simple but profound declarations. He showed that the day in and day out grind of teaching is all part of what makes his quest for greatness worth the hard work. I’ll admit I have had days when I’m lacking that passion and zeal he describes when I am bogged down in the day to day stresses on the job. That’s always a good reminder to step away and refocus my perspective on my mighty purpose. If I can’t be proud of what I’m doing, how can I expect others to value my work and what does that say to others about what I think of them? I want to be like Tyler, I want to live and breathe what I do and wake up everyday excited for what I will get to do, not what I will have to do!