Thursday, January 13, 2011

Working Relationship

The work we do (our ‘jobs’) takes up a significant portion of our lives and can be a source of drudgery or a source of elation (or a mix of emotions). The nature of the work itself could give rise to these emotions but a significant role is played by the way individuals view their work. According to experts, an individual can have three different relations with his or her work – Job, Career, Calling.

Job: People with a job orientation primarily see their work as a means to an end. They consider work as a mean to pay for necessities, support their families, and maximize their leisure time. The major interests and ambitions of Job holders are not expressed through their work.

Career: People with a career orientation have a deep personal involvement with their work. They primarily see work as a conduit to achievement and higher social standing. They are principally motivated by the challenge of work, increased self-esteem and the possibility of enhancing their status (social and organizational standing).

Calling: People with a calling orientation perceive their work as intrinsically enjoyable and fulfilling. They do not work for the financial gain or status enhancement and permeate their work with personal and social meaning. The work is usually associated with the belief that the work contributes to the greater good and makes the world a better place.

Individuals with a career orientation or a calling orientation are more deeply involved with their work as compared to those with a job orientation. Only for those with a calling orientation, work is an enriching and meaningful activity.

Although work orientation is more of an individual perspective, it has significant effects on the work group. In teams where the number of members with a calling orientations is higher, there is overall higher identification with the team, more commitment and healthier group processes. For teams with majority of career oriented members, there is weaker identification with the team, more conflict, less commitment to the team itself and more negative group processes.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gratitude for a Scientist

Recently had the opportunity to listen to Dr. V.S. Ramachandran speak on the occasion of the launch of his new book The Tell-Tale Brain. Amongst other things the eminent scientist talked on topics like synesthesia, mirror neurons, mirror box etc. He made the topics easily comprehensible and fascinating.

During the period of interactions with the audience a young boy stood up. He looked smart and spoke articulately. He said he had come mainly to thank the neuroscientist. As the audience contemplated the possible reasons in their minds, the boy continued and disclosed that he had cerebral palsy. Sometime recently he had suffered from dislocation of the hip. This had subsequently caused him to change his lifestyle from a physically active one to a more inhibited one. He was scared to undertake any physical activity due to the fear of pain and due to doubts about his ability to undertake the activity. Then he had happened to view a video where Dr. V.S. Ramachandran had spoken about learned disability. After viewing the video and obtaining this new knowledge he had decided to challenge his limiting beliefs and had started undertaking activities which he was previously scared to perform. He once again started moving towards an active lifestyle and gained progressive confidence and satisfaction.

As the boy completed, I sensed a gentle smile on the neuroscientist’s lips. The boy’s expression of gratitude would have definitely made both him and the recipient happier. An insightful scientific talk had proved to be a source of inspiration, strength and happiness to a boy whom Dr. V.S. Ramachandran did not even know. The concurrent applause from the audience was perhaps an appreciation of the endeavour of both human beings.