Know Thy Work Self

I had one of those great catch up sessions with an old boss tonight. You know the ones…where you catch up over old stories and new stories and you laugh because it all makes so much more sense now. It was great and I couldn’t be more thankful for the advice I learned both from my two years working for him but also for the candid responses to my questions tonight. My main takeaway?

Know thy work self.

We spend a lot of time on ourselves. Or we should. The truth is we spend a hell of a lot of time figuring out how we fit into everything else. We obsess over our relationships, our place in a company, our place in an industry, our role in a friendship. And maybe – just maybe – if we aren’t completely exhausted we get to the end of the day and we have a moment where we reflect on whether we are living it all the way we really want to be living it.

Call it grounded. Meditation. Self-awareness. Authenticity. Truth. Boldness. So many words all meaning the same thing — are you doing you?

Tough thing to do these days. I blame Facebook (read “blame” as “thank”) because we have never been more connected to ghosts of yesteryear, and promises of tomorrow. Every day we are faced with choices we could have made, and things we did wrong. Want to wonder what it would have been like if I chose love at age 24 over that second startup? I don’t need to wonder I have a feed full of beautiful families to remind me. Wonder if you made the wrong choice quitting that last gig?  No need to question it, just look at that old team you miss so much. It’s easy to get caught up in. I think the reality of it all is we spend a great deal of time knowing each other. A great deal of time not trusting ourselves that we actually did the right thing.

I know I do. I spend a lot of time “watching others” — man that sounded creepy.

But what about me? Know thy self. It’s a real thing. But even outside the personal reasons for focusing on you – what about work. How well do you know thy work self? Do you know what really drives you? Do you know what that ideal work situation looks like? Those ideal colleagues? That ideal office? That ideal commute? What about that company philosophy? Do you know what the mecca of companies is for you? It doesn’t mean you’ll get it, but you need to know it…to get closer to it.

I bet you spend 1/100th of your time figuring out that, compared to the time you spent on what boots you should by for this fall. Or maybe that was just me. La la la.

Tonight’s chat with an old boss (mentor, great guy, friend) reminded me how far I’ve come in knowing my true work self. I know I love solving business problems that have an impact. I know I get frustrated working for and with people that are anything but passionate and dedicated to the problem we are solving. I know I love beautiful things – websites, campaigns, content, logos, products. I like to build them and be around people that appreciate beautiful things. I want to work for a company that has a real reason for being around. I also like to try my hand at new things and “figure it out” even if that means failing 49% of the time. I like to help my colleagues find out what part of their jobs they love and help them do more of that. I like to empower them to get after bold things…sometimes at the detriment of an immediate ROI. (Yup I just said that).

That’s my work self, and it’s not at every company. Hell, it’s not at most companies.

I think that’s what scares us. If we know our true work self we will realize just how unhappy we are most of the time. We will raise the bar and that’s scary. But trust me…it’s so worth it. I hate to get into the warm and fuzzy but if you could figure out your true work self…and then answer it…wouldn’t that be the best possible outcome? Wouldn’t that be…the point to it all? Almost as important as finding your “one true self” in this life?

I think so. But it takes intention. It takes reflection. It takes bold moves. Chances. Scary ones. I’ve made some of those and trust me…I’m better for it.

So the next time you are questioning if the next career move is a practical one. I dare you to bitch slap yourself and remind yourself – practicality has nothing to do with it.

What is your “true work self” … and then go that direction. A baby step in the right direction is a leap compared to the wrong one. So go for it. YOLO friends. YOLO. 


  • Sarah Peduzzi

    Absolutely true. Thanks for this posted. Perfect timing.

  • CassieAllinger

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve been circling around this idea for the past 2 weeks, triggered by a similar conversation w/ a current exec at my company. I forced myself to take a step back and figure out exactly what I want and need, this time around. I’ve found that although it’s so important to take this step, it’s also important not to re-evaluate too often, which is a mistake I made in the past. Sometimes you just have to focus and get shit done, at least I do. Especially when these self-directed questions create a tornado of motivation and excitement, which is where I’m at now. You particularly got me with this statement: “I know I get frustrated working for and with people that are anything but passionate and dedicated to the problem we are solving.” Question is, what do we do about that frustration? Let it go? Help them find that passion? I lean towards the latter, but not everyone wants to love work as much as we do.

  • Liz Fischbeck

    Thanks for sharing. Great read.