I have always had the drive to have a job that makes a difference. I think most people would say they feel the same way.
My first job out of college was idealistic; we thought we were going to change the world with our products. We worked hard for long hours to get things off the ground. The stress levels were heavy. At the end of the day, all I could manage was to collapse onto my couch and watch Netflix. I had no emotional space left. I had no physical energy left. I couldn’t uphold the high hopes my art professors had of me continuing my studio practice. The relationship with my fiancé was rocky. He would say, “You need to learn how to leave work at work,” at least once a day. I carried the black cloud of stress and pressure with me wherever I went. It consumed me.
We get used to the pressure, the darkness, the stress. We think, Everyone feels this way–so I just need push through and keep going. One day at a time. But what if work could be a place to blossom? A place to live wholeheartedly (Brene Brown) and let that flow into all the other parts of your life? A place to refresh, renew, and grow in all areas?
It’s possible. Here are some characteristics of companies that grow their employees instead of draining them:
They are truly interested in the other areas of your life. Do you like to paint? Draw? Dance? Make music? They find ways to incorporate that into work or support you in your endeavors.
They encourage travel and play as a necessary part of your personal growth and innovation.
They believe that when you are physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy you do your best work. Then they back this ideal up with action, not just talk.
Titles aren’t important. Not because it’s a startup that hasn’t picked titles yet, but because there are no egos. Even from the top level. Titles are seen as necessary tools to get you where you need to go in the outside world, but internally everyone is just as important as the next.
They balance that belief with the idea that you are unique, special, and valuable as a sum of your parts, not just for your degree or experience. Who you are as a whole is more important than where you’ve been.
They are flexible when it comes to your job and growth. They believe you are the right person for the team and the company culture—and of course value your experience and schooling—but once you dig into your job, they are not afraid to flex the role around you. Bottom line: they don’t try and nudge and cajole you into a rigid role.
A company that sees you as a whole, sees you as valuable, and sees you for who you truly are, is unfortunately not very common. But we deserve to stop separating work as a thing to just “get through.” We are living one life, where everything we do is connected, and the ripple effects are powerful. Sometimes you don’t even know what you’ve shut down until it comes alive again. When your job values you as a whole person, work can be the epicenter of life and love and green things to grow in every corner of your world.