Careers and workplace wellbeing are a crucial factor for men’s overall health, wellbeing and satisfaction. The 19th November each year is International Men’s Day. And supporting men in navigating their career and the choices and pressures around that is key.
International Men’s Day focusses to celebrate men’s diversity, role models, improve health, tackle discrimination, fostering relationships and community amongst many other crucial goals and visions.
In July this year I put up a Poll on LinkedIn asking where men sat across their career satisfaction. The results from the 236 men who voted was disturbing but not surprising. 21 per cent felt it was just a living and wanted more, 55 per cent felt fulfilled and loved their work, 8% felt totally stuck and miserable and 17% unfulfilled and planning changes,
In a range of personal survey questions I undertook after the poll finished some key themes for dissatisfaction were lack of self-worth, feelings of letting family down, unsure of what to do and the impact of a unsupportive workplace culture.
Since the Poll the last 5 months of COVID many men have lost their jobs, changed the way they view life and business and have made changes or plan to. Further many have been forced to transition. It has placed even more pressure and opportunities for men on their social, financial and work wellbeing.
Question for men:
What is your business direction, real purpose and career truth? This article looks at how men can unpack their business direction and career truth. Getting in touch with more heart and clarity will have a positive impact on emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.
And what are the goals and dreams you did or didn’t pursue in life and business? Are you living your own career and professional truth, calling and passions? Or are you living the goals and life of others? Perhaps they are those of family, friends, a partner, a culture or a society you are a part of?
Challenging questions are designed to prod and encourage vulnerable conversations. Often shame holds men back from stepping up. In the seminal book Man Unplugged, John Broadbent explores what it means to be a man, society stereotypes and how men can live fulfilling and connected lives.
The journey outlined is a pivotal one to reflect on the issues men face in life which may be unfulfilling and detrimental on many levels. It also looks at the impact of mental health on men who are disconnected from self and purpose. It is an essential and inspiring read, for both men and women.
As young children we are full of curiosity and a no holds barred dreamscape of what our careers and future life may be. Often it is played out and often it doesn’t as life and crap happens along the way. The core inner self and knowing who we are and what gives us joy is generally consistent throughout life. But unfortunately those dreamscapes and passions are often ignored and buried as adulthood takes hold.
Over many years as a business and career coach I have sadly observed that the answer to my opening question to men is often met with deep sadness and regret. My next question of “If I had a magic wand over your career and life what would you wish for” is likewise met with confusion. Many blokes are truly stumped with the question as their eyes glaze upwards to the ceiling and shoulders slouch downwards to the floor.
So many men filled with fear when attempting to connect with and express their deeper truths and career-life aspirations Men are so often imprisoned in ingrained belief systems – of both their own and others/societies making.
Men are bought up generally to believe that: they must really achieve and succeed, make big $$ money, be a strong leader, be in control, take it on the chin, man up, not display any emotion or workplace empathy etc. And as a consequence many are following a career path that deep inside may be torture. They are often burnt out and incredibly dissatisfied.
The list of beliefs and ‘must not do and not be’ both consciously and sub-consciously for men is vast. It is entrenched across all ages, industries and occupations. I see it all the way from top tier corporate CEOs to plumbing sub-contractors. I see too many men grappling with and denying themselves a job or business path that they really want. And current society issues, aberrations and legalities can create an additional fear into men as they consider a new direction. But to add some balance I also observe many men sitting very happily in a place of true business ownership authenticity or career alignment.
How to start the leap into ‘next’
It’s both an exciting and difficult process to dive deeply into your WHO, WHAT, WHERE & WHY? It requires courage to take yourself off the ‘expectation hook’ and give yourself permission to be real and authentic. It’s asking yourself a heap of questions and reflecting on the answers without any judgement. At the end of every question the WHY is the linchpin. Questions are always the answers. You are on a mission to discover who you are, or perhaps have forgotten. You need a ‘reality VS judgement focuses. A quick start to the process is to make lists around:
WHO are you? What is your true character, personality, life and business values, core beliefs. Hobbies, things that really excite you, lifestyle, community engagement, mannerisms, style/look, dress presentation, types of people you enjoy etc. And WHY?
WHAT are you current career skills, education? What do you like and dislike about what work you do? What are you great at doing and what gives your joy? What would you like to learn about and explore? What keeps you awake at night for yourself and others And WHY?
WHERE – the Magic Wand (no holds barred). Where would you really like your career and business life to be? Where would that magic wand take you? This question is not about the end result it’s to connect with your authentic self and truth. And WHY
HOW – would you like people to remember you and know about you? And WHY
As you take these exercises you will start to connect, re-align and or confirm some of your career truths. You may realise that you have lived a career that is not what you wanted at all. Or you may realise a new-found passion for your current situation. And it’s absolutely fine to be and do whatever you want to be and do. Follow what gives you fulfilment.
It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a community to give permission to men to share and own their personal vulnerability and career truth.
Let’s keep giving permission and encouragement to boys and men to follow their own path and joy. And men – give that permission to YOURSELF not just on International Men’s day but every day.