ripples-1It’s possible for all of us to do work that matters. Find your own version of this, and commit to an authentic career that allows you to hold your head up high and say “I did my best to make a difference, in any way I could”.

Silence At Work

Ten days. A secluded location. No books. No phone. No communication with the outside world. Zero talking. Ten hours of meditation – each day.

“Where do I sign up?” I hear you ask.

Six years ago, I did find myself signing up and travelling to Pomona in Queensland to what I could only imagine would be ten days of abject torture.

I could tell you about the physical pain that comes from sitting cross-legged with no back support, on the floor for ten hours a day, for ten days straight. We could talk about the sparseness of the facilities – the shared showers that were freezing cold, and the rock hard single bed, in a room shared with someone you weren’t allowed to speak to or even make eye contact with. Or we could discuss the way I counted down each minute of each hour, of every day until the ten days were over.

I could even bore you with the revelations I had – the conflicting feelings and then the life-changing decision I made following the course.

But I’ll do all of that another time (maybe over a bottle or three of wine).

A Career Well Lived

On average we will work around 90,000 hours in our lifetime (get your calculator and do the maths). For a large portion of that time, many of us are either seriously unhappy or completely ambivalent about our work and career. And many of us feel powerless to change that.  We fall into acceptance that it’s “just the way it is”, often closely followed by a feeling of apathy, meaning we do nothing about our dissatisfaction. As well as the obvious impact this has on our performance at work, it has a profound impact on our relationships, our confidence and many other aspects of our life.

I believe most of us fundamentally want to enjoy what we do for a living. More than that, most of us also want to live a life and do work that is meaningful.

Your Choice

The sole light at the end of each day of physical pain in my Vipassana Meditation course was the Buddhist teaching of the day.  One particular Buddhist concept really struck me, and it has made a large and lasting impact on my own career and business choices.

Right Livelihood is a traditional Buddhist teaching and in laymen’s terms essentially it means making your living through ethical means. It’s about engaging in work that makes a difference: that’s good for you, good for others, and good for the greater good.

It needn’t necessarily be about saving the world, but it is about questioning what you are doing, why you are doing it, and the impact it has on you, those around you, and the world at large.

Finding your own Right Livelihood may take time, and it will be different for everyone. It will also force you to ask questions you might not like the answer to. I suggest you start by asking: Are you genuinely proud of what you have chosen to do for a living? When you’re asked “what do you do?” do you answer with your head held high, or do you shrink away, wishing you had a different answer?

If you’re going to work 90,000 hours (and more) it’s imperative that you are proud of what you do.  It is a source of life-affirming joy to meet someone who has immense pride in their work, be that the local school janitor or the CEO of a major multi-national.


Studies show that when we are genuinely engaged in what we do, it has a significant and positive ripple effect on our colleagues, family, community and society as a whole.  Choose the pond you throw your pebble into carefully, and watch the ripples create positive change like the power of a crashing wave. tweet this

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