Everything I Know About Work I Learned From My Job

boho office

It's 12:04 a.m. on October 3rd, and I just sat down to write this post. I would normally just now start winding down, but I wanted so badly to write today.

I'm just now getting to it.

Sometimes, right now, this is a typical day for me.

See, I have a serious case of what Steven Pressfield calls a "shadow career" in his book, Turning Pro.

It's a career most people are in - many of whom don't even know it until or unless someone points it out to them.

In today's vernacular, we call it a j-o-b. It's likely some kind of corporate-y, cubicle-y type of job where you get paid every 2 weeks on a schedule - like maybe you live for the 1st and the 15th or the 15th and the 30th.

Many people are really not happy in their jobs, and specifically, introverts. Most introverts feel overlooked, over-stimulated, not energized, and overwhelmed by their job duties, and because we spend so much time at our jobs, often it can feel like our life is attached to it. Everything ends up being shaped, framed, filtered, and fused into or with our j-o-b.

Can I say something? There's an extremely small percentage of people who are totally 100% happy with their jobs, but "good" doesn't always mean "right."

You can have a "good" job and it might not be the right one. You can also have what Pressfield calls a shadow career and a true calling.

There are jobs and there is work. And they are not one in the same to probably 85% of people.

So what do I mean "there are jobs and there is work?"

Essentially, work is purpose. Work = purpose. And purpose is one of those things that's deeply personal. Purpose can't be stolen or even duplicated. Two women can have the same exact calling and it will manifest completely separate and unique because of how the purpose is delivered and applied.  You can give 3 project managers the exact same project with the exact same goals and they will all drive results differently, based on their own perceptions of how the goals need to be met and utilization of their own strengths. We all arrive at purpose differently, and it cannot be taken from us.

So if work is purpose, what is a job?

A job is a lesson plan, if you will. It's a paycheck and a huge classroom. For most people, and especially the women we serve here at tamishaford.com, a job is a train ride into the big city. It's the temporary that prepares you for the permanent. And work is permanent.

Remember too that "good" doesn't always mean "right", so it's also possible to not only be in a shadow career, but be in the wrong one - the one that's designed to destroy you and your energy and destiny and not the one created to prepare you for your work. In recent stats issued, the Bureau of Labor Statistics sited that 10 out of every 15 people are unhappy in their jobs.

If you're anything like me, your career path offered you countless wrong shadow career options and choices in order to position you for your right one that would properly prepare you for your work. Work being purpose, calling, and ultimately.....your life's work. And the wrong shadow career can absolutely suffocate your work (and it will probably try).

The Wrong Shadow Career Looks Like This:

  • Asks you to compromise your deepest values (you do things and grit your teeth or pass over the sinking feeling in your gut that something doesn't feel right)
  • Gravely disrespects your personal boundaries
  • Makes you physically ill where it's noticeable by you and others
  • You wake up every day absolutely dreading going to work
  • Starts causing you to do things that you know are out of character for you (and possibly integrity)
  • Makes you feel trapped and like there's no way out or no other options
  • It forces the thought that your job is your life and leaves you so drained there's no time for much else in life

The Right Shadow Career Looks Like This:

  • Will never ask you to compromise your deepest values, while it will challenge you to question them (often)
  • Respects your personal life and space
  • Urges you to be and remain healthy and live your best life
  • Utilizes strengths you possess and allows you to capitalize on them as much as possible
  • Wants you to just be "you" in your job
  • Lets you know that there's room for advancement, growth or other opportunities
  • Provides space and energy for you at the end of the day to want to pursue your work, either part-time, as a hobby, or as an entrepreneurial venture
shadow lamps
shadow lamps

Why We Want a Shadow Career At All

I don't know many people who haven't had shadow careers - those jobs that you knew just weren't your highest capability or calling in life, but you needed to sustain you and put food on the table so-to-speak. You and I should want a shadow career or be thankful for them if we have them, because they are the preparation and training ground for our truest and purest work. The right one anyway. The wrong one won't serve this purpose at all.

Purpose proceeds plans. You were born to do something that has already been done. And I don't mean by someone else - I mean, if you can see it - it's possible and you're seeing it for a reason. It's for this reason you and I have to allow the sifting process to show us the difference between work and our job, and allow the right shadow career to grow us.

Shadow careers (jobs) are temporary discomforts required to cultivate permanence (our work). 

People who go their entire lives searching for permanence in the temporary will always be frustrated. These are people who wake up every day wishing there was more to their life or feeling like they aren't appreciated or contributing in the highest way in service to humanity or to themselves. They feel suffocated by their own expression. This is because you aren't a paycheck, and your calling is not attached to your job. If you love your job enough that you feel extremely fulfilled and dedicated every day when you go to work for someone else's company, then that's wonderful - likely, you are contributing in a way that you are meant to - that serves your life purpose.

Otherwise, your frustrations are stemming from needing something else to work on - pursuing what that is will be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. I speak from experience. As an introvert, I can tell you that staying in a wrong shadow career will drain your energy and cause you to be resentful. If you're highly sensitive, it will also make you ill (I've also been there).

It's important to me that you understand there is a difference in a paycheck and a pay-it-forward.

Your work will always be in service to someone or something - it's your responsibility to find out what that calling or work is for you. Like I said, maybe it is your job, but for most people it isn't.

Remember when I said your work can never be taken from you because it's personally yours? Well, your job can be taken from you.

A gift can't be hired - it can only be cultivated through great work.

Most companies now hire at-will, meaning they can release you when, if, and how they want or need to with no explanation. All the more reason to know and understand what you're here to do beyond earning a piece of paper to further advance someone else's company and vision.

Let me ask you this - what is YOUR vision?

You will know you have vision, because while it's personal, it's never private. Never private in that, it affects everyone around you when you truly possess it. And while vision is a function of the heart, sight is a function of the eyes. They are not the same. 

In fact, the great enemy of vision is sight.

Intuitive expressives hold this in high esteem, but they also understand it. A great number of introverts are also extremely intuitive - they can see train-wrecks and victories alike - coming before they happen, so they often most understand the visionary lifestyle.

The hope you need or have that serves your work will come from your vision of that work, not what you can tangibly and physically see in front of you now.

I can tell you FOR SURE that Tamisha Ford International will have multiple companies develop over the next several years, not just one or two. That is a vision only I can see right now, and I'm fine with that. There's a lot of creative power and expression reserved for the visionary, because often, she's the only one who can see its purpose. I want more visionaries to understand this - the power lies in what you envision, not what you 'see'. Leaving the power with what you 'see' is what keeps you in a bad cycle of no action and/or perfection-required-to-take-action thought cycles. Remove the power from the sight and put it into the vision.

On that note, I recently heard a profound metaphor for women as incubators.

We were, and always were, designed to incubate things and expand, multiply or grow them. A man gives us sperm, we create babies. Multiplication. We buy groceries and make meals. Growth. We're given a word, we make a sentence. Expansion.

If a woman with vision partners with someone who lacks it and she's handed frustration and lack of vision, likely what she gives back is hell and a hand basket. (Ha!)

You get the point.

What am I saying?

Women are mirrors of the relationships they're in - romantic partnerships and work. We are reflecting back to the world, through the incubation process, what is being planted in us and cultivated.

THIS is the incredible importance of divine callings and work. It's the very purpose of our existence, and through vision we find security and meaning.

I want to know from you today:

  1. Do you have a shadow career? Talk to me about if you feel it's the right one or not and why.....
  2. I've made an important distinction today - what is sticking with you the MOST?

Thank you for reading and being a part of this community. I look forward to your thoughts....


Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash