by Peter Luscombe

The unexamined life is not worth living.


Socrates speaks wisely. We do have to question ourselves and our sense of purpose in life and at work. By doing so, we can refresh, modify, change and add to the ways we navigate. We set and even can reset our compass bearings.

Compass Concept

In the series – Lessons From Teaching – I touched on the need to foster positivity and progress through being aware of personal learning.

Work with the positives – learn from and at work

There’s a question, or series of them, which is well worth asking yourself from time to time:

What have I learned about myself, others and the world around me – on this occasion – today – this week – this month?

Learning is a leaven to positivity. When I felt I’d taken on something new, learned something, then that made me feel positive about what I was doing. It didn’t have to be world shaking. Sometimes it was as simple as: ‘I didn’t think of that’ – ‘That’s a different spin on matters’ –‘ I was surprised to realize…’

The inverse were times when I walked away from a class, a meeting, whatever, when I felt I’d gained little or next to nothing. Such occasions were frustrating. I felt disappointed in myself and my expectations; as well as disappointed in what I expected from others.

Despite these times, which needed their own form of address to retain a positive mind-set, I found looking out to learn gave me positive energy. I’ve barely scratched the surface here. If you’re in a space where you have so much more to say then that’s a positive, right?


We do need to question, examine, our work life; like the ways and means – habits – assumptions – our current ‘fit.’

Take about 10 minutes out of your life to watch this ‘TEDx Talk: How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes – Adam Leipzig.

In this presentation Leipzig asks five questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you do?
  3. Who do you do it for?
  4. What do those people want or need?
  5. How do they change or transform as a result of what you give them?

He also humorously makes note that while the unexamined life isn’t worth living, if all you’re doing is examining life then you’re not living.

Carole Brown, founder of CareerActually, observed after watching Leipzig’s presentation that:

In my experience, asking – What do you do? What are you supremely qualified to do? – while being a useful question, does not necessarily equate to revealing your life’s purpose. Many people become very skilled and capable in areas that they actually dislike doing. What needs to be added is – What is it about these things you like to do, and then, how can you build upon and develop these further? What directions are they leading you in?

Asking difficult questions leads to progress and innovation. With that comes change. Ask the difficult questions, look outside yourself, seek the wisdom and guidance of others and know that such is of benefit to you. Additionally, when you feel energized, then you can energize others.


Over the next weeks will run a series – Work Habits. The series will explore:

  • The nature of habits according to researchers
  • Strategies to change habits through insight and innovation
  • How to navigate through specific habits like procrastination

As the series unfolds, hopefully there will be some ‘golden nuggets’ that you can carry forth into your work life. Additionally, Carole Brown will occasionally post a ‘Work Hint.’

Until then ….

Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.

Thomas A. Edison

Venture forth!

The Work Habits series will be published each Sunday over the coming weeks.