For the remaining three Culprits, I refer to them as the “Lack Trifecta”. These Culprits represent areas of lack in our relationship with work that bring terrible pain with them.
Let me tell you a bit about what I mean by lack. Lack is the “absence of something needed.” As I have said, we need to look at our pain because it leads us to what is lacking or missing in our relationship with work. When we don’t have what we need, even if we’re not aware that we need it, we experience pain.
The Lack of Trifecta represents pain caused by a lack in the following areas: Expression, Fulfillment, and Reward. These are three fundamental aspects to having a healthy relationship with work.
Let’s tackle the lack of Expression first. Quite simply, we are here to express. To give voice to that which is within us to share; our gifts and talents. Our damaged relationship with work does not stem from the politics of the workplace or the skimpy benefits or the awful commute. What hurts us is going to our job day after day after day and not doing what we truly love to do and are meant to do. This is the expression we lack.
For so many of us, Expression is missing on a daily basis in our work. We spend our days doing the type of work others have asked us to do rather than giving our true Expression.
The need for expression is part of our life force. It is what we are here for – to give of ourselves, to give the gifts and talents we have for the betterment of the planet. And no, that’s not hyperbole. It is why you are here. You, your gifts and talents are needed. The planet is waiting for what you have to give.
Because this fact can be so hard to believe, it can become rather easy to ignore the reality that we are not expressing our gifts and talents. If we do feel the pain of the lack of Expression, we do our best to shove it down so deep that it just falls from our awareness. We go to work day after day not expressing our gifts and talents, and then we do our best to not feel the hurt. We silence, we mute, we negate the hurt we experience from a lack of Expression.
The workplace is not concerned with your needs to express. The Time4Money Exchange is focused on productivity. Your need to express is in direct opposition with the workplace’s need for you to produce. So who wins in this scenario? You know who.
The impact of lack of Expression
The impact of lack of Expression is far-reaching. When the fundamental need to express is thwarted, feelings of hopelessness, oppression, and boredom will result. Let me walk you through how this happens.
The need to express our gifts and talents is a powerful drive within all of us. But when there is no opportunity to get this need met through our job or even in our personal life, we begin to feel a sense of hopelessness. We begin to feel like there is nowhere to turn to get this need met. When we can’t see an open door, when we can’t see a possibility, that’s when hopelessness takes hold and becomes the prism through which we see our world.
Close on the heels of hopelessness, we are certainly going to feel oppressed when we do not have the space to express our gifts and talents. Here’s a perfect example. Let’s say you are a compliance manager. Let’s even say you are good at it. However, rather than managing adherence to regulations, your heart’s desire is to manage people. You have a talent for motivating people, helping them see the best in themselves and guiding them to do the best work they can. But if this isn’t your reality on a day-to-day basis, what a weight this must become for you. It must be such a burden to walk around each day not being able to express your truth. Not being able to express what you love to do. And this is when oppression manifests. We feel oppressed by the burden of having to do that which is requested by our employer but that does not match our gifts and talents.
Lastly, when we don’t express the truth of ourselves, our inherent gifts and talents, we become bored. Makes sense, doesn’t it? If you’re not doing, if you’re not sharing, if you’re not giving what you are meant to give, share, and do, how engaged can you be? How stimulated will you be by work that is just “ho-hum” to you? More importantly, how inspired by it will you be? Quite simply, you won’t be engaged; you won’t be stimulated, and you certainly won’t be inspired. Look, you might show up every day and do what you need to do, but all the while you’re still bored. And you are bored because there is a gaping hole in your life. That hole is where your Expression belongs.
- Am I expressing my gifts and talents on a daily basis in my work?
- What feelings came up for you as you were reading this description? What felt familiar to you?
- Am I bored by my work due to a lack of Expression?
- Do I feel a sense of hopelessness and/or oppression due to a lack of Expression in my work?
- Do I believe my gifts and talents can make a difference for others?
Next in the Lack Trifecta is the lack of Fulfillment. So many people experience a lack of Fulfillment in their work. I would say we are almost at a crisis point in this country when it comes to fulfillment at work. Think of the statistic I mentioned early on that 87 percent of American workers are not engaged with their work. The lack of Fulfillment is a contributing factor to this statistic.
I find it very interesting that the definition of “fulfill” is “to develop the full potential.” What a perfect description of the experience of fulfillment. When you are fulfilled, you are realizing your full potential. When we put this in the context of our relationship with work, to be fulfilled, we must be realizing our full potential in and through our work. Unfortunately, this is simply not happening for the majority of workers.
What a toll it takes when, on a daily basis, you are experiencing a lack of Fulfillment. When you are doing your job, producing for your employer, yet you don’t experience a sense of fulfillment, a sense that you are reaching your potential. This can truly be an “energy-suck.” And we wonder why we come home from work so exhausted.
And what a void not being fulfilled by your work leaves in your heart and spirit. This lack not only creates a void, it also creates pain. You come home at the end of the day, and you might feel empty or incomplete. You might feel as if something is missing or that something seems unfinished. If your relationship with work was fulfilling, you would come home feeling satisfied. You would feel full and complete, no voids. You would feel that you realized your potential throughout the day. I liken this feeling to the satiety we have after a great meal. We desire no more because we are fulfilled.
However, in most work relationships, Fulfillment is in short supply. Why?
- Because we haven’t taken the time to understand what will fulfill us.
- Because we so often accept employment without thinking about how this will feel while we are doing it.
- Because we spend our time, our precious time on this planet, doing work that we don’t love, that doesn’t stimulate us or challenge us.
- Because we spend our time, our precious time on this planet, stuck in the soul-sucking Time4Money Exchange.
The longer we remain unfulfilled, the greater the emotional and spiritual drain. Nonfulfillment can manifest into a physical drain as well because we are giving and giving. You can only give without receiving for so long before you are empty. Have you ever had the experience of realizing that you have nothing left to give? This is what I’m talking about.
Impact of lack of Fulfillment
Fulfillment is a necessary part of our life experience. The pain from living without it, manifests as feelings of hopelessness, boredom, and doubt.
First, let’s look at how hopelessness manifests from a lack of Fulfillment. We all have expectations for our work, and even if we’re not consciously aware of them, from our relationship with work. We do expect to gain Fulfillment as part of the equation of having a job. Imagine, day after day, experiencing the same lack over and over. It leaves you wondering if there will ever be a light at the end of the tunnel. Without it, you feel as if you can’t have what you want. We can give up hope that we will ever find Fulfillment. Hopelessness sets in when we wonder “Will this always be my reality?” “Will I always feel so unfulfilled?”
This Culprit will also engender boredom. Quite simply, being unfulfilled hurts. Boredom is an effective defense mechanism for this pain. We pull away from work, become disengaged and end up bored.
The key point here is we will do anything not to feel the emptiness that comes with the lack of Fulfillment. Boredom is where we go to hide from our true feelings. Boredom becomes a refuge, like a way station. We can stand still, not feel anything and certainly not move forward. Boredom provides a good excuse and an excellent scapegoat. We can point the finger at boredom and say, “See, that’s the problem, I’m bored.” Rather than doing the work, digging deep and owning up to the fact that there is a huge hole inside, rather than admit to ourselves that one of our most basic needs is going unmet, we hide in boredom.
Lastly, a lack of Fulfillment will manifest doubt. When our need to be fulfilled by and through our work is repeatedly not met, we can begin to doubt that fulfillment even exists. We can begin to doubt that we deserve to be fulfilled. I said earlier that doubt is insidious. It sneaks in and changes the landscape. It fractures reality and creates a falsehood. Day after day, when you are not experiencing fulfillment, doubt can slip in and make you think that fulfillment by and through work is an impossibility. That maybe others who are special or better than you can somehow achieve it, but for you, it is just not in the cards. Doubt can cast a veil over the truth and make you believe that Fulfillment by and through work is something rare and unique. This obscures the truth that you deserve to have your needs for fulfillment met by and through work each and every day.
- At the end of the day, do I feel fulfilled by my work?
- What would being fulfilled by my work look like for me?
- Being fulfilled means that you are reaching your potential on a daily basis. List five things that would need to exist within your work for you to feel fulfilled.
Lack of Reward
The last Culprit in our trifecta is the lack of Reward. Reward is what you receive as reciprocity for the gifts and talents you have given as your work. A reward is a message that tells you that your work is being seen, heard and recognized. Reward can look like many different things to different people. For some, reward is solely monetary. For others, it might mean acclaim or free time or respect or recognition.
The lack of Reward is a major Culprit in the pain we feel in our relationship with work. It is the ultimate “smooth criminal.” It will sneak up on you and strike you down. Let me explain.
Employers reward employees in many different ways: salary increases, bonuses, benefits, more vacation/time off, paid parking, etc. This is all good, right? Not so fast. A reward is only a “real” reward if it feels like a reward. It must be the type of reward that you need, rather than the type of reward your employer wants to give.
Let me show you what I mean. If your employer gives you a big plaque at the end of the year to recognize your hard work, but you need a year-end bonus to feel rewarded, then your plaque doesn’t feel like a reward at all. It probably feels more like a slap in the face. It can feel like all the hard work you did in the previous year was for naught. You probably feel like your work hasn’t been seen or recognized. This is how the lack of Reward can make you feel.
Ahh – but here’s the rub. This smooth criminal will muddy the waters because you were rewarded. You got a plaque. Right? There was a reward, but it wasn’t the reward you needed to actually feel rewarded. This mismatch, not receiving what we need but receiving something else, puts us on an unforgiving path.
We get caught between having received but “not really” because it was a mismatch. Yet to our employer, it appears that we have been rewarded. How do you even begin to talk about this with your employer without appearing ungrateful? So we sit in silence. Feeling unrewarded, feeling unseen, feeling unheard, feeling that we give and give and don’t receive. And oh, how these feelings hurt.
That being said, when there is a lack of Reward for your work, a void is created. A universal law holds that when we give, we shall receive. Simply, when you put something out to the universe, you receive something back. It is the basic give-and-take of life. However, if we are not receiving, if this universal law is not upheld for us, a void is left in its place. And this void is a big empty space that leaves us feeling incomplete.
An acquaintance, the Molly, recently left a job she had been at for nearly twenty years. She went to another company to do the same type of work she was doing at her old company. At her new company, she has a more impressive title but compensation and benefits nearly identical to what she had at her old company. So why did Molly make this move? She told me that it was the new title she was offered that sealed the deal. In her new role, Molly held a higher place in the company hierarchy than she did at her old place of employment. She told me that she had been unhappy for a long time, and it took her that long to figure out what she needed to be happy. She felt her new company demonstrated the respect she believed she had earned vis-à-vis her new title and the place she held in the new company’s organizational structure. This respect (title and stature) was the reward Molly needed to feel rewarded.
Each of us deserves and are entitled to receive Reward for the work we give. Yet so few of us receive the kind of reward we desire.
Experiencing a lack of Reward triggers many questions for us that often remain unanswered. “Does anyone see the work I am doing?” “Does anyone appreciate the work I am doing?” “Why does this job leave me feeling so unsatisfied?” “Why am I doing this day after day for nothing?” “This is such a thankless job.”
Impact of lack of Reward
When lack of Reward leaves us feeling like “I do all this work and I get nothing in return,” we can experience the pain of oppression. When there is no Reward coming to us, we begin to see the employer as “holding all the cards.” We feel oppressed because we don’t see the point in what we’re doing. Remember, the natural law holds that when you give you shall receive. And when the law isn’t working for you, it makes perfect sense that you begin to feel oppressed. You can feel you are under the yoke of servitude, slogging along each day for the enrichment of another.
This Culprit also breeds doubt. Without Reward, when we are feeling unseen and unrecognized, we can begin to doubt the worth of what we have produced. We wrongly assume that companies base their reward model on merit. We wrongly assume that companies adhere to the natural law and reward you for the productivity you give. I say “we wrongly assume” because we rarely have good conversations with our employers about the rewards that we expect to receive. Due to our incorrect assumptions, when we do not receive the reward we desire, we then wrongly assume we didn’t receive it because of something we have or haven’t done. We assume it’s because we haven’t done something correctly or up to a certain standard, or we could be better. You get the picture. As a result, we begin to lose confidence in our abilities.
One last comment on the lack of reward. The lack of Reward is unique out of our Lack Trifecta because it creates additional pain beyond feeling oppressed and doubting our abilities. Again, when the natural law of giving and receiving isn’t working for us, it leaves us feeling invisible as if nobody can see what we’re doing. We begin to feel our contributions are not of value.
And this is why lack of Reward is unique. Feeling invisible, feeling unappreciated, feeling as if you don’t have value, can leave a psychic wound that’s hard to heal. It’s hard to heal because often we don’t know it’s there. We obfuscate it with the anger or resentment. However, beneath those obfuscations lie the unanswered questions – Am I important? Does my contribution matter? Do I have value? This is why going through a program such as this and taking a deep dive into your pain is important. You find the wound that you didn’t know was there.
- Am I receiving the Reward I desire from my work?
- Do I feel as if my work is unappreciated, undervalued and/or not seen?
- Do I feel as if only my employer has the power to give me the Reward I desire?
- How did it feel for me as I was reading this section? What did I recognize as true for myself in this section?
Friends, congratulations. We have made it through the darkness in our journey. We have come to understand what our pain feels like as well as the causes for our pain. You sucked it up, you took a deep breath, and you moved through parts of this section that probably made you feel very uncomfortable. For that, you need to reward yourself. Pat yourself on the back or get a bowl of ice cream, whatever makes you happy. But know that by taking this deep dive into your pain you have given yourself the gift of self-awareness. This self-awareness is what you will use to heal your relationship with work.
Now, let’s start moving into the light.