Tag Archives: harmony

Finding Harmony in work: A strategy to re-soul your career

Harmony: Finding Harmony in work: A strategy to re-soul your career

In my earlier blog Resouling your career I defined harmony in the following terms: “Harmony is a joyful dance through and with life.” Here I want to expand on some practical ideas for finding harmony in your career. In part prompted by Ed Colozzi’s excellent comments on that blog, and in particular because I want to explore the idea of harmony because it has so much to offer to people in their careers.

Harmony is a metaphor derived from music to describe a fundamental aspect of nature where we respond strongly when some things are joined or blended.

In music, harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches (tones, notes), or chords. In some types of music like jazz chords can be altered with “tensions”. A tension is the addition of an element within the chord that sets up dissonance with the bass. Usually in music, this dissonant chord resolves into a consonant chord.  Harmony is the sense of balance between the dissonant and consonant chords – between the tension and the relaxation.

So to my mind, harmony is about a dynamic, an oscillation between tension (I mean this in the mild sense and NOT stress!) and relaxation, a repeating pattern that resonates with us.  It involves the interplay between two or more elements and involves the careful timing to ensure the blends happen at the right time.  In career terms, being “in sync” with others or events may provide a sense of harmony.  Pitching in with contributions or ideas at just the right time, responding intuitively and spontaneously to others – these are all examples of harmony.

Obviously harmony extends beyond music and can be found in all walks of life if we are attuned to seek it out.  Cezanne stated, “When paintings are done right, harmony appears by itself. The more numerous and varied they are, the more the effect is obtained and agreeable to the eye”.  Harmony is an arrangement of the elements or parts of the whole that creates a strong positive aesthetic reaction in us. All the elements seem to work together to create a pleasing order.

Art and music teach us that the common underlying theme of harmony is a sense of connection where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and creates an immediate positive response in us.   It is not only a sense of connection, rather those connections appear to be dictated by a sense of order and belonging – the elements combine in very specific ways – to create that pattern of tension and resolution.  You cannot simply throw any random elements together and expect to get harmony.

In Chaos Theory of Career terms, Harmony can be seen as an emergent property of the dynamic complex interconnected influences in our lives and careers.  It explains why the idea of “fit” between a person and job should not be construed in static terms, but as a dynamic dance.  Harmony is dynamic.

I like to think of harmony in terms of dance because it melds the musical and visual elements of harmony.  In dancing, getting your timing right so that you are in the right place to meet your partner, or doing the the thing that is consonant with the music makes the difference between a satisfying dance and an embarrassing display!

In career terms harmony involves understanding connection, knowing how and when to join in. It involves timing and rhythm.  It involves feeling part of something bigger but at the same time remaining a distinctive element in that bigger thing. Harmony is about blending in AND standing out, it is not about subjugating your voice, rather adding your voice.

Listening carefully, observing, appreciating that you are distinctive and bring unique qualities to work.  This requires acceptance of both your strengths and limitations. It requires respect and close observation of others and nature to understand as much as possible how things go together and to spot opportunities where the addition of your contribution will create harmony.

I also want to clarify my comment in that earlier blog that you can’t do harmony on your own.  What I mean by this, is not that you need other people to achieve harmony necessarily (but often this is where the most obvious or accessible harmony can be found) rather whether it is communing with nature, or meditating, harmony necessarily involves the blending of your self into something greater, something bigger (thanks Ed for making this point in your comments on the Re-souling blog!).

Harmony James

I included album cover for this artist, because I love her name!!

Here are a few suggestions about how you can achieve harmony in your career:

1.  Harmonize with your self. Find time and space in your life to reflect on who you are and what you have to offer

2. Harmonize with your spirit. Try meditation, prayer or silent time (perhaps immerse yourself in a long bath or sauna!) to remove the background noise to listen to the quiet signals and messages

3. Harmonize with others. Immerse yourself in projects and connections – do not expect to find harmony in all of these, but use them as learning opportunities to explore the nature of your strengths and the types of work and people where you experience harmony

4. Harmonize with nature.  Find times to immerse yourself in nature.  This might be a walk or bike ride through the country, a visit to a beach, or it could be appreciating a flower, a flower’s scent or a bird in your back yard. It could be a camping trip, or sitting atop a mountain sipping hot chocolate while taking in the view.  When fully immersed you feel that instantaneous connection as a distinctive part of a vibrant dynamic, complex and inter-connected world.

5. Harmonize with time. Be persistent, harmony requires timing, and in careers timing is not always under your control.  So do not give up if your fail to harmonize in your initial attempts.

6. Harmonize with difference. Seek out friends, colleagues or team members who bring harmony – not people who simply agree with everything you believe – a carbon copy, remember you need that pattern of tension & resolution for harmony – this is why diversity in teams is so essential – without moments of tension you simply have blind agreement – there is no movement, no oscillation, no harmony.

7. Harmonize with change – recognise you are change, are changing like the things around you and harmony needs the constant movement, the warp and weft, the alterations, to be maintained.

 

What is your idea of harmony? How do you find harmony in your work?

 

ps  check out this beautiful video posted via twitter just after I posted this – harmony!

Five ways to resoul your career

Five ways to resoul your career

What is the point? Why am I doing this? Who cares? Does it matter? As Poehnell & Amundson (2011) point out “Many have questions about who they are and what they ought to be doing with their lives. Many struggle with personal and external issues that make it difficult for them to effectively answer these questions in practical ways that can be worked out in today’s labour market.”(p18).

Ultimately I believe that these are questions that at some time or other we all ask ourselves, and I further believe that frequently these questions are prompted by career crises.  I also believe that these questions can in part be answered or addressed through our careers.

Our careers can become vehicles for the expression of and the nurturing of our souls.  The impacts of exploitative work or drudgery are reflected in the terms we use to describe these activities such as soulless, soul destroying, empty, meaningless, crushing and so on. Similarly unemployment has been described in similar terms.  It reminds me of the close connection between work and the soul.

A good career is food for the soul.  A good career allows us to attend to meaning and mattering in our lives (Amundson, 2009). A good career fosters our spirit because our work is social contribution (Savickas, 1997).  All work is social – as John Paul Getty said, if you haven’t got a problem, you haven’t got a job – work is socially delegated problem-solving. So in working with others to help them solve problems we achieve connection, and this in turn provides us with a sense of social connection, a sense of place and a sense of belonging.  We become part of a community of connection through work. Thus work is spiritual.

Deborah Bloch in her writings on Spirituality (e.g. Bloch 1997; 1998) identifies five aspects of spirituality that are relevant to careers:

  • Calling
  • Purpose
  • Transcendence
  • Connection
  • Harmony.

Calling

Ed Colozzi has written that finding work that addresses ones essential sense of worth and meaning – the work you are meant to do and have to do, is to discover one’s calling. Having a sense of mission can be motivating, reassuring and sustaining when inevitably we are confronted by barriers and frustrations in work.

Doing the work you feel you are meant to do may manifest itself by a sense of fluency or ease with which the work becomes available to you.  A series of  “chance events” that appear to smooth the way into a role, or provide the opportunities to follow a path or complete a task can sometimes be interpreted as signs of a calling. A feeling of being “comfortable in ones shoes”, that you have found your niche, that you fit in can all be expressions of finding a calling.

Listening carefully to that calling can sometimes be difficult. Some have suggested techniques such as meditation and other mindfulness approaches as a way to clear away the distracting inner dialogues to hear our calling.  A calling may appear to change and transform as contexts and the problems we confront change over time, and the challenge is to understand the consistency of the Calling and to have the wisdom to articulate that calling in different ways in different contexts.  This is what some call being true to yourself.

Purpose

Related to our Calling is a sense of purpose.  A sense of purpose results when we transform our calling into meaningful social contribution, which often is some form of work (whether paid or unpaid).  Having a sense of purpose means to be able to see the connections between our intentional actions and their intended impact upon the world. It follows that work that is meaningful to us and that matters to us and to others is going to be purposeful work.

Transcendence

Within the Chaos Theory of Careers (Pryor & Bright, 2011), a central idea is that the sheer complexity of ourselves and the systems we live within mean there are limitations to what we can know or is knowable. Thus the world is a mystery, not a puzzle that is to be solved or indeed solvable (e.g. Dave Snowden 2010, see for instance his comments at the end of his blog here).

There is structure, knowledge or systems that are beyond what we know, beyond our limitations of what we can know. Kant saw faith as a way to deal with the transcendent.

Connection

If work is social contribution then work connects us to society.  One of the most commonly noted consequences of unemployment for many is the sense of disconnection and ennui that many who are unemployed can feel.  A spiritual sense of connection often refers to a vaster connection of things in the world.  Within the Chaos Theory of Careers (Pryor & Bright, 2011), the notion of sensitivity to initial conditions (the characteristic that leads to non-linear, or sudden or disproportional changes in our systems) it is interesting to ask what are our “initial conditions” for our personal human systems. Quickly it becomes apparent that we do not “start” with our genes, because these came from somewhere, and before we know it, our family tree of “starting conditions” takes us back to the beginning of the universe – and that is to take just one aspect of our “starting conditions”.  We live in and between our connections.

Harmony

Being at one with the universe is to have a sense of harmony.  You cant do harmony on your own (well you can record yourself repeatedly and overdub it in Garageband software!) but generally the most satisfying harmonies occur when we become one, like a band playing well together, or two singers in duet.  There is something that moves us when we experience harmony, something that we want to join in with.  I see harmony in the modern phenomena of flash mobs. The spontaneous coming together of people.  In their paper showing how Youtube can be used effectively in career counseling, Glavin, Smal & Vandermeeren (2009) refer to a video showing how a flashmob forms when the song Do Re Mi is played through the PA and people spontaneously join a joyful dance. One of the authors describes her reaction to watching this video: “To begin with, I love performance art that incorporates an unsuspecting public because the crowd becomes a part of the performance and it is an art form that exists only within the moment. The other thing that I like about this video is the sense that everyone in the train station is a part of something greater. You see the people’s expressions changing from confusion, to surprise, to excitement, and in some cases, you see them begin to let go – letting the moment, and the movement, move them. I think that one of the most powerful gifts you can give someone is the sense that they are not alone in this world.”

Harmony is a joyful dance through and with life.

Five ways to re-soul your career.

  1. Find some quiet time; take a break or a trip on your own. Clear your schedule and try some mindfulness techniques to clear away day to day distractions.  Try to find time each week to practice this. Learn to hear your calling.
  2. List out how your work links to society. What difference are you making? How important is that to you. Does it matter to you or to others? How could you find out how and why it matters?
  3. Relax your preoccupation with trying to control or predict everything.  Recognize that you cannot do it or know it all and be comfortable with that. Celebrate that fact and be humble in the face of it.
  4. Write out the ways in which you are connected to your: family, friends, community, place, country, colleagues, and strangers
  5. Join in. Consciously make the effort to harmonise with others. Seek opportunities to be in harmony.

P.S. If you are interested in a much more extensive consideration of Spirituality within the Chaos Theory of Careers, chapter 9 of The Chaos Theory of Careers is where to look or get it from me here.

P.P.S. You may find more on practical ways of working with spirituality in this post

P.P.P.S. David Winter’s Existential Take on Spirituality here and my next post that is related here

P.P.P.P.S.  PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT – IT IS A FORM OF CONNECTION AFTERALL! 🙂

References

Amundson, N. (2009). Active engagement: Enhancing the career counseling process (3rd ed.). Richmond, BC: Ergon Communications

Bloch, D. P. & Richmond, L. J. (eds.). (1997). Connections between spirit & work in career development. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.

Bloch, D. P. (1997). Spirituality, intentionality and career success: The quest for meaning. In D. P. Bloch & L. J. Richmond (eds.). Connections between spirit & work in career development (pp. 25–208). Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.

Bloch, D. P. (2006). Spirituality and careers. In J. H. Greenhaus & G. A. Callanan (eds.), Encyclopedia of career development (Vols. 1 & 2, pp. 762–764). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Bloch & L. J. Richmond (eds.), Connections between spirit & work in career development (pp. 85–208). Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.

Colozzi, E. A. (2007). Spirituality, career development and calling: Emergent phenomena. Paper presented at NCDA Global Conference, Seattle on July 8, 2007.

Colozzi, E. A. & Colozzi, L. C. (2000). College students’ callings: An integrated values-oriented perspective. In D. A. Luzzo (ed.), Career counseling of college students: An empirical guide to strategies that work (pp. 63–91). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Glavin, K., Smal, P., & Vandermeeren, N. (2009). Integrating career counseling and technology. Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, 25(1), 160?176.

Poehnell, G. & Amundson, N. (2011). Hope-filled Engagement. Richmond, BC: Ergon Communications

Savickas, M. L. (1997). The spirit in career counseling: Fostering self-completion through work. In D. Bloch and L. Richmond (eds.), Connections between spirit and work in career development: New approaches and practical perspectives (pp. 3–26). Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black Publishing.

Snowden, D. (2010). Extispicium. Cognitive Blog. Downloaded from http://www.cognitive-edge.com/blogs/dave/2010/07/extispicium.php on 15.4.2011