This article was originally published by Brien Dunphy on LinkedIn.
Heading into Thanksgiving, probably like you as well, I am reflecting on what I am most thankful for. I enjoy a thriving business consulting practice with great clients, a wonderful family, and meaningful work--I am truly blessed, more than I could have ever imagined. Yet, if there were a contest for what I am most thankful for, my family would win hands down; but truth be told, that hasn’t always been so clear to me in the midst of the sea of professional pursuits I swim in. I was reminded of this recently while on the road visiting a client.
Hundreds of miles away, I caught up with my wife over the phone and she recalled a recent conversation I had with my children. In that particular conversation, I was taking the time to share and reinforce the values that she and I hold dear. Her reaction was, “I find you so attractive when you do that.“ (who doesn’t like to hear those words!)
I didn’t catch it at first, but the following morning as I packed and prepared to board my next flight, it hit me. I realized that in all of the roles in my life where I measure my value professionally, I failed to measure my value in the most important place in my life: personally …and what makes me most attractive there.
Basic human psychology illustrates that we gravitate towards, and thrive in, environments where we are most valued. At this stage in my career, I am recognizing I’m no different than the rest of humanity. :-)
Aware of that natural longing, we must be holistic in appraising where we bring value, and where we are valued. We can’t limit ourselves solely to investing in the places where we feel most externally valued. Diligence, character, and integrity will instinctively motivate us to keep investing in our professional selves and external reward; oftentimes at the expense of our personal lives and internal rewards.
But it begs the question and merits reflection: are we valued where we presently are? We live in an interesting time right now with “quiet quitting” as the current buzzword (which still exists even as the economy faces an impending recession). I find it equally interesting that the quiet quitting trend is coming on the heels of the previous trend which was “the great reset.”
The great reset was essentially the common professionals’ French revolution, where professionals took a stand and revolted against being underpaid and undervalued. Yet here we are in this world of quiet quitting. How does this happen?
As a business consultant, I see a few reasons for this. First is the fact that wherever we go and no matter how well we are paid, we can never escape our own humanity.
It is sad that in the modern workplace, the characteristics most people look for in a leader are competence and warmth. When we work in a place where our contributions are either devalued or unnoticed, lack of motivation (or at least the temptation to do the bare minimum) presents itself strongly.
The second thing I see is the desire for professionals to better themselves. Consummate professionals seek the next professional challenge. When there fails to be the opportunity to pursue the next horizon within their current position, the demotivation can be overwhelming. Who is responsible for that next challenge? Ideally, it is both the individual professional taking responsibility for their own growth and the company/manager taking responsibility for their employee’s growth.
Thirdly, and I would say most importantly, I think this all comes down to individual human beings not necessarily feeling valued but rather recognizing and acknowledging what they value in themselves and in their own lives.
With my background in counseling, I often reflect back on the vast numbers of men and women I’ve met, who remained entirely engaged and invested professionally, but “quiet quit” personally/relationally in their lives.
In my life, I want to go where I have the greatest value and impact; and go where the people around me find me most attractive. I don’t believe for a second that our professional and personal worlds need to be at war, but it occurs to me that to live our lives wisely requires us to put in the work to find the harmony between the two.
While professionalism and integrity should prevent us from quiet quitting on the job, our humanity and integrity should prevent us from quiet quitting personally. In investing consistently and passionately in our personal worlds, we create environments where we are most valued internally, not merely externally.
So this Thanksgiving, I am resolved to show my family how grateful I am for them. Because, at the end of the day, while I am valued professionally, I now know where I am most valued, indispensable, and “attractive.” I exhort you to do the same.
Have a Great Thanksgiving!