Meaning is all around us: living out calling, relationships, learning goals, spirituality, etc. Unfortunately, all of life is not focused on meaningful pursuits.
“What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labour under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 NIVUK)
Think of the trivial things that become important to us, like a television series. I catch myself choosing between television and conversations with my kids or spouse. And then there’s email, the Internet, books, hobbies, sports, and the list goes on.
At work, it’s easy to let the routine take the place of meaning. Keeping up with reports, email, meetings, travel, and the latest crisis can absorb all our time if we let them. Meaning gets lost.
Moving from Activity to Meaning…
As people explore what they would like to do or become, they often start with the What or How. For example, “I’d like to get a master’s degree.” The master’s degree is the What. Meaning is the Why. But don’t ask why, instead ask about meaning.
- What would getting a master’s degree do for you?
- What is meaningful to you about having a master’s degree?
What other ways have you considered to achieve your larger purposes, besides getting a master’s degree?
Moving from Routine to Meaning…
No one’s work role is 100% meaningful. We all have to do the mundane. Helping the discouraged worker to find meaning in their work and, if possible, refocus energy on more meaningful work, can turn things around for many people.
• Of all that you do in your current role, what are the most meaningful parts?
• In what ways, even small ones, do you live out your calling in your current role?
• If you were to design your ideal role, what would it look like? How might you incorporate elements of your ideal role into your current role?
Moving From Loneliness to Relationships…
When I lived in Japan, I commuted daily in train cars literally packed with people. Surrounded by hundreds of people, I was lonely. Loneliness can exist even among friends and family. We feel lonely when our relating becomes routine, losing meaningfulness.
• What makes a relationship meaningful for you?
• Think of two meaningful friendships you’ve had. What made those friendships significant for you?
• Currently, with whom do you find the most meaning? What positive changes could you make to create more meaningful relationships?
Meaning is deeply motivating. You can tell you have uncovered meaning when the person you are coaching becomes either very quiet or very excited. Quiet is caused by a state of awe or reverence at the meaning, and excitement is joyous anticipation.
Keep asking until you find meaning.
Dr. Keith Webb, PCC
Join the CCNI Core Insights Series with Dr. Keith Webb, PCC on February 12, 2019, at 1pm Eastern time for Establishing the Coaching Agreement. Keith will share practical tips on establishing agreement in the relationship, the coaching series, and individual coaching sessions.
Keith Webb, DMin, PCC, is an author, speaker, and consultant specializing in leadership development. He is the founder of Creative Results Management, a global training organization focused on helping ministry leaders multiply their impact. For 20 years, Keith lived in Japan, Indonesia, and Singapore where he designed and delivered leadership development programs to leaders around the world. He is the author of The Reflective Journal for Coaches, Coaching in Ministry, and The COACH Model for Christian Leaders. Keith is a past-President of ICF Washington State and lives near Seattle with his wife and their two children. He blogs at keithwebb.com.