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What do you think you’re doing?


When I was a child, one of the phrases I heard most often from my parents – usually in response to some sickening crash or disaster that I’d caused – was “what do you think you’re doing?” All these years later and that phrase still has a great deal of resonance for me and I like to ask it regularly, of others and myself. I’m often surprised to find that they – and sometimes I – don’t actually know. Sometimes there’s a difference between what I think I’m doing and what I’m actually doing but that’s a discussion for another week.

As I sat down to write this week’s blog entry, that phrase came back to me. Back in August last year, when I started this blog on my website, I wrote that beginning something was easy but continuing was difficult. Since then, I think I’ve done pretty well – there’s been an average of a blog post a week, I have a handful of (intelligent, sophisticated, attractive) followers and sometimes people write to let me know that they’ve agreed with what I’ve written. But still that question keeps echoing in my mind: when it comes to this blog, what do I think I’m doing? It’s become even louder since I started a marketing campaign for inspired, trying to find new clients and new work: what do I think I’m doing?

Once I’d started asking the question I found that I didn’t have a convincing answer – not consciously, at least. Re-reading the blog, however, a pattern began to emerge and a realisation dawned on me. What do I think I’m doing? I’m simply trying to change the way we all – each one of us – think about work.

I’ve written before that I’ve seen too many people who’ve mistaken their job for a hostage situation; it's like they're kidnapped every Monday morning and held against their will. People for whom Monday morning – and sometimes even Sunday evening – is the low point of their week. People who can’t wait for the weekend – or even retirement – so they can do what they really want. People who are being ground down and used up by their employers and employers who know this is what they’re doing but can’t think of any other way to be.

Carrying on the way we are simply isn’t an option anymore: if the last couple of years have taught us anything – and that’s an open question – it’s that our current approach to work is unsustainable.We have to find a new and better way. I believe work – whatever that work is – can be inspiring. I believe work can provide dignity and fulfilment, can provide opportunities for creativity and service and links to a higher, more engaging purpose. I believe work should enhance life, not make it miserable. I believe all of this is possible and achievable, for everyone, and that’s what I’m trying to achieve – that’s what I think I’m doing.

It’ll take effort but the reward will be worth it. Who’s with me?

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