I owe this phrase to an excellent little book by Marsha Sinetar, To Build the Life You Want, Create the Work You Love. In this helpful tome, the author applies the ubiquitous Hierarchy of Needs developed by Abraham Maslow in 1954 (Air, Water, Food, etc. up to Self-actualization) to career development. Her version of Maslow’s pyramid describes the apex as “vocational integration,” a rather abstract appellation to be sure, but also as “Work as Gift of Self.”
I must confess that I wish I had coined this rich statement. “Work as Gift of Self” means that, as you describe what are doing, you are not merely recounting a bullet list of tasks and responsibilities that are known as your Job Description. You are describing yourself, your passions, interests, values and most cherished skills. I have added the phrase (OK, this one is mine) “What you do should be who you are” to enhance the concept.
Does this mean that everything we do must cause us to be deliriously happy, enraptured by our duties, fully consumed in the joy of the responsibilities before us? Oh, please, of course not! I have always said that every activity, even those that we cherish most, will often include some of what I have termed “grown up stuff” – duties that are necessary even though we would drop them in a New York minute. But, if most of what you are doing can be categorized as “grown up stuff,” I would respectfully suggest that you should be doing something else!
So as you approach your “To Do List” each day, are you “giving of yourself” or just crossing off items to get to the end of the day?