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May 24, 2009

Entrepreneurship: Meaningful work for your mind, body, & soul

I would describe myself as an entrepreneur who has created meaningful work that allows me to think creatively and affords me the luxury of utilizing skills and talents that are natural, enjoyable, and at most times do not feel like work.

As I read Matthew B. Crawford’s
“The Case For Working With Your Hands” in The New York Times Magazine, I felt that he was articulating a daily experience that many satisfied entrepreneurs could relate to. (I also think this article should be required reading for all career seekers.)

His experience details his path - for all intents and purposes – towards entrepreneurship. As I read his story, I felt he was describing an experience that so many of the dynamic women in the
In Good Company community have expressed themselves.

For example, he writes that:

“A good job requires a field of action where you can put your best capacities to work and see an effect in the world.”

Many of the women in our community started their businesses with this very desire in mind. They wanted to do what they did best. And not only that, they believed that they could also have a direct impact on their own life (in terms of how much they work, or what they choose to pursue, or how they balance all the other aspects of their life) while simultaneously having a direct impact on those who they work with or the creations that they make. For many women, this is not always about making the most money but rather engaging in work that is meaningful, impactful and, is on their own terms.

We created
In Good Company because we found that while on their entrepreneurial journey many women experienced road bumps when it came to “running the business side of things”. The new territory of entrepreneurship and the steep learning curve that comes with it made them crave a connection to a community of women in the same boat. Crawford also speaks a community that he tapped into for resources, information and support and the important role that that community played. Sound familiar?

Crawford’s entire commentary on the state of work in our society is poignant and thought provoking, so please don’t short change yourself by not reading it, but I will share this excerpt with you in order to spark your thinking.

"There is good reason to suppose that responsibility has to be installed in the foundation of your mental equipment — at the level of perception and habit. There is an ethic of paying attention that develops in the trades through hard experience. It inflects your perception of the world and your habitual responses to it. This is due to the immediate feedback you get from material objects and to the fact that the work is typically situated in face-to-face interactions between tradesman and customer.

An economy that is more entrepreneurial, less managerial, would be less subject to the kind of distortions that occur when corporate managers’ compensation is tied to the short-term profit of distant shareholders. For most entrepreneurs, profit is at once a more capacious and a more concrete thing than this. It is a calculation in which the intrinsic satisfactions of work count — not least, the exercise of your own powers of reason.

Ultimately it is enlightened self-interest, then, not a harangue about humility or public-spiritedness, that will compel us to take a fresh look at the trades. The good life comes in a variety of forms. This variety has become difficult to see; our field of aspiration has narrowed into certain channels. But the current perplexity in the economy seems to be softening our gaze. Our peripheral vision is perhaps recovering, allowing us to consider the full range of lives worth choosing. For anyone who feels ill suited by disposition to spend his days sitting in an office, the question of what a good job looks like is now wide open."

posted by Amy
image courtesy of henatayab

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