Today is Wednesday, which means it’s time for the Inspirational word of the day.
Autonomy: (noun) independence or freedom.
On my way to Amsterdam last week, I read a book by Malcolm Gladwell call the Outliers. In it, he talks about the many factors that go into making people great. Like the thousands of programming hours Bill Gates got as a child because he went to the right school at the right time. Or the Beatles playing the clubs in England for thousands of hours before they became successful here in the States. They got good at what they do because they put in the time. Not to mention the fact that they really, really loved it.
One part, especially, stood out for me. “Three things, autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward, are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying. Work that fulfills those three criteria is meaningful.”
This week, I was reading David Turnbull’s post “8 reasons we don’t do things we should and how to break the mold” on Pick the Brain. Within that post is a video of a TED lecture by Daniel Pink talking about how money is not a strong motivator and that in order to really stick with something, we must have autonomy (the urge to direct our own lives), mastery (the desire to get better at something that matters), and purpose (what we do in service to others).
Now it’s time for a confession.
I have volunteered just over 40 hours this month putting together Christmas in the Village.
I haven’t done all of the work by myself. Far from it. I get to work with lots of other people. Working with the other volunteers and community members is something that gives me a great deal of fulfillment and satisfaction.
I really like these people.
I like working with them, and they like working with me. Everyone seems to be having a good time and looking forward to a really special event that should host well over 300 people.
So everything should be perfect, right?
After spending 3 1/2 hours collating and distributing flyers this morning, I come home to a husband who is sulking because I’m not helping him fix the drywall in the basement. I finally get him to tell me what’s wrong and so he tells me he thinks that because I don’t get paid money for what I do, ultimately it’s a waste time and money and I should really just quit and go get a real job.
Now, I know he’s feeling jealous and slighted, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that he thinks what I do has no value. According to him, I’m just screwing around with my friends and wasting time. To listen to him, if I were to quit doing what I do, somebody else would just step in and take care of it.
Honestly, I don’t know how he can be married to me and still think this way but he does.
So now what?
The event is next Saturday afternoon.
Although I tried to explain to him that my hours will scale way back after that, he’s not buying it. He doesn’t believe me. He doesn’t even really want to try to understand why I do what I do, because it doesn’t make money. Therefore, it must be a waste of time.
Autonomy is about doing what you know your supposed to be doing.
My heart feels the need to be a part of something bigger than just me. Bringing vendors into the Old Town Hall for Santa’s Shop, directing the DPW where to put the decorations around town, shopping for decorations and supplies with my girlfriend and fellow volunteer, Debbie, collating and distributing flyers ……..all of these things make me happy. Not just happy, fulfilled.
However, I am still married with a son. I have responsibilities here in the house. Although I have done a stellar job of keeping up with the laundry, grocery shopping, dishes, cooking and cleaning, my husband is feeling slighted.
I can’t do it all.
I can’t feel truly fulfilled if my family life suffers.
How’s that for autonomy.
What do you think? What would you do?
Have a great Thanksgiving!