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Work and Meaning - Idaho Career Development Association

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Work and Meaning - Idaho Career Development Association
Work and Meaning
An Existential Perspective on Work
Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy
Michael A. Pitts, Ph.D.
Northwest Nazarene University
Professor of Counseling
Logotherapy Diplomate
1
Viktor E. Frankl, MD, PhD
1905-1997
2
The Roots of Logotherapy as an
Existential Philosophy
(Existential Analysis)




Like Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), and Alfred Adler (1870-1937),
Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) grew up in an urban Viennese
environment.
Freud lived not far from Frankl’s home.
Adler practiced across the street from the home of Frankl’s
parents.
His life was influenced by the same events as Freud and Adler



Political Dictatorship
Economic Stagnation
Nazi Occupation



Annexation of Austria into Germany
Anti-Jewish Legislation
World War II
3
The Three Schools of
Viennese Psychotherapy:
1. Sigmund Freud
2. Alfred Adler
3. Viktor Frankl
4
“Work Makes You Free”
5
Viktor E. Frankl, MD, PhD

1946 he published his first book:
 Say ‘Yes’ to Life In Spite of Everything
 From Death Camp to Existentialism
 Now published as Man’s Search for Meaning
 More than 12 million copies worldwide
 One of the ten most influential books in the United
States (U.S. Library of Congress)
6
Logotherapy

Logos: an important term in philosophy, psychology,
and religion
 Translated as word, plan, wisdom, and meaning

Frankl translates logos as meaning
 Meaning is defined as truth, beauty, goodness, love,
rightness, and God

Logotherapy translates as “therapy through meaning
 Health through meaning
 Growth through meaning
7
Logotherapy

Logotherapy is an existential philosophy as well as an
internationally acknowledged and empirically based
meaning-centered approach to psychotherapy.

Our Purpose: To think about how this theory and
philosophy applies to work and career concerns.

My Hope: That you will consider some of the basic
principles of this approach as seen through the lens of
your own theoretical orientation.

Logotherapy is not meant to be a stand-alone theory.
(V.E. Frankl)
8
The Three Pillars of Logotherapy
Logotherapy rests on three basic pillars, or three fundamental
assumptions. These are:
1. Freedom of Will
 The concept that human beings have the capacity of free
choice
2. Will to Meaning
 Finding meaning is the primary motivation for living
3. Meaning of Life
 Meaning is contained within the concrete experiences of
life
9
Meaning Centered Orientation
of Logotherapy

Three ways of discovering meaning:
1. By creating a work or accomplishing a task
2. By experiences in life (something or someone)
3. By the attitude that a person takes toward
unavoidable suffering
10
Reflections on the Meaning Triangle
A Non-Invasive and Non-Threatening Way to
Get to Know a Clients Strengths
Attitude
Creativity
Experiences
What I give to life through my creativity
What I receive from life through experience
The stance I take toward life through my attitude
11
Reflections on the Meaning Triangle
A Non-Invasive and Non-Threatening Way to
Get to Know a Clients Strengths
Suzanne’s
90 year old
Grandmother
Creativity

Attitude
Experiences
What creative gifts have I offered to others through my
talents, my work, deeds done, and goals achieved, that
held meaning for me?
12
Reflections on the Meaning Triangle
A Non-Invasive and Non-Threatening Way to
Get to Know a Clients Strengths
Attitude
Creativity

Meaning
can be found
in love and
relationships
Experiences
What experiences have I received from encountering
others in relationships of all kinds, from nature, culture
or religion that were deeply meaningful?
13
Reflections on the Meaning Triangle
A Non-Invasive and Non-Threatening Way to
Get to Know a Clients Strengths
Finding
meaning in
unchangeable
circumstances
Creativity

Attitude
Experiences
What attitudinal values have I realized by taking a
stance toward situations or circumstances that was
courageous or self-transcending?
14
Reflections on Work and Meaning

I had been working as an instructor at a university and
volunteering with a community project. I thought
both of these titles or jobs should bring me meaning
and I struggled when they did not. If only I had
understood Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy, I would have
realized that I had the freedom to choose my attitude
toward conditions and to give of myself instead of
expecting work to give me something.
(Student)
15
Work and Meaning

Logotherapy is an existential theory that focuses on at
least five circumstances in which we are likely to find
meaning:
1. Self-Discovery
2. Choices
3. Uniqueness
4. Responsibility
5. Self-Transcendence
16
It is not a person’s occupation
that creates meaning or fulfillment
but how he or she does the work.
Viktor E. Frankl
Work can provide opportunity to activate the
circumstances in which we are likely to find meaning
Self-Discovery
Choices
Uniqueness
Responsibility
Self-Transcendence
17
Work and Meaning
The Work:
 Potting plants
 Pulling weeds
 Carrying dirt
 Clipping leaves
The Meaning:
 Being appreciated for creativity
 Conversation with a variety of people
 Caring about people with medical concerns
 Freedom to choose arrangement of plants
 Opportunity to do something she does well
18
The Realities of Work
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
19
The Realities of Work
The largest piece of our
“everyday pie” is
devoted to work and
work related activities.
Doesn’t this suggest that
if we hope to experience
life as meaningful we
need to experience our
work as meaningful?
20
The Realities of Work





80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs
The average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their
lifetime – more than any other category of life
On average, Americans hold seven to eight different jobs
before age 30
25% of employees say work is their main source of stress and
40% say their job is “very or extremely stressful”
More than 13 million working days are lost every year because
of stress-related illnesses
Business Insider Statistics
21
The Realities of Work





39% of people work more than a typical workweek (40 hours)
10,000 workers per year drop dead at their desks as a result of
60 to 70 hour work weeks in Japan. The phenomenon is
known as “karoshi”
39% of employees feel rage at their coworkers
24% of employees work six or more extra hours per week
without pay. That figure doubles for management.
25% of people check into work hourly while on vacation, via
email and phone. 59% said they check work during traditional
holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Business Insider Statistics
22
Reflections on Work and Meaning

Meaning is not inherent in the work itself, but in the
perceptions and understanding of the worker.
(V.E. Frankl)
A Short Story of Three Brick Masons
1. “I’m laying brick”
2. “I’m making a wall”
3. “I’m building a cathedral”
23
Work and Meaning
I don’t repair dolls for a living. I work
construction for a living. I repair dolls to live.
(Expressions of creative activity)
Construction Worker
This family will have heat tonight.
Journeyman Plumber
24
Work and Lack of Meaning

50% of workers report that they experience no
meaning or significance at work.
The Energy Project, 2013
If work is not meaningful then the
largest part of every day (work day)
lacks meaning.
25
Work and Lack of Meaning

The result of a repressed will to find meaning is an
inner emptiness which Frankl called an “existential
vacuum.” (1955)
If work is not meaningful then the
largest part of every day (work day)
lacks meaning.
26
Work and Lack of Meaning

When meaning is frustrated, repressed, or blocked we
will settle for pleasure or power.
If work is not meaningful then the
largest part of every day (work day)
lacks meaning.
27
Work and Lack of Meaning

Symptoms of the Existential Vacuum (in 1955):









Increased laziness
Tendency toward aggression
Drug addiction
Over emphasis on play and leisure
Increase of criminal acts
Excess sexuality and seeking of pleasure
Discontent
Increasing doubts about the world, society, and life
What about 2015?
28
Work and Lack of Meaning

Symptoms of the Existential Vacuum:

Increased laziness
o
On average: 3 hours per 8 hour workday are wasted

TrendHunter Workplace Productivity Infographic
29
Work and Lack of Meaning

Symptoms of the Existential Vacuum:

Tendency toward aggression
o
47 million Americans experience psychological or
physical aggression while on the job.
o
o
18 month study: Science, Industry and Business
14,770 workplace homicide victims between 1992
and 2012

Bureau of Labor Statistics
30
Work and Lack of Meaning

Symptoms of the Existential Vacuum:

Drug addiction
Over 4 million employed adults used illicit drugs
before reporting to work or during work hours at
least once in the past year, with approximately the
same number working while under the influence of
an illicit drug.
o

Working Partners for an Alcohol and Drug Free Workplace
31
Work and Lack of Meaning

Symptoms of the Existential Vacuum:

Increase of criminal activity (aggression)
o
While working or on duty, American employees
experienced 36,500 rapes and sexual assaults from
1993 to 1999

National Sexual Violence Resource Center
32
Work and Lack of Meaning

Symptoms of the Existential Vacuum:

Excess sexuality and seeking of pleasure
o
70 % of all online porn access occurs during the
nine-to-five workday.

CNBC
33
Work and Lack of Meaning

Symptoms of the Existential Vacuum:

Excess sexuality and seeking of pleasure
o
25% of those exposed to sexual behavior in the workplace
found it fun and flattering while half were neutral. But even
employees who enjoyed the behavior tended to withdraw
from work, felt less valued and reported depressive
symptoms more often than employees who experienced little
to no sexual behavior at the office. The results were found
among both women and men.

Journal of Applied Psychology
34
Work and Lack of Meaning

Symptoms of the Existential Vacuum:

Discontent
o
o
o
Just 30% of employees are engaged and inspired at work,
according to the Gallup Organization, which surveyed more
than 150,000 full- and part-time workers during 2012.
52% of those surveyed have a perpetual case of the Mondays
— they're present, but not particularly excited about their job.
The remaining 18% are actively disengaged or, as Gallup
CEO Jim Clifton put it in the report, "roam the halls
spreading discontent." Worse, Gallup reports, those actively
disengaged employees cost the U.S. up to $550 billion
annually in lost productivity.
 Gallup's 2013 State of the American Workplace Report
35
Work and Lack of Meaning
Questions to Ponder

Given these “symptoms” …
 Have we undervalued the importance of meaningful
work?
 How do we fully calculate the cost of a lack of
meaning in the workplace?
 What do these symptoms say to those preparing to
enter the workforce – and those of us who work
with them on career choices?
 How do we assist clients and ourselves in
discovering ways to engage in meaningful work?
36
Joblessness and Meaning
The existential importance of work is most clearly seen where
work is entirely eliminated from a person’s life, as in
unemployment. Psychological studies of the unemployed have
arrived at the concept of unemployment neurosis. Remarkably
enough, the most prominent symptom of this neurosis is not
depression, but apathy. The unemployed become increasingly
indifferent and their initiative more and more trickles away.
(The Doctor and the Soul)
 During the Depression Frankl gave the unemployed
volunteer work in Vienna’s youth movement. This provided
meaning, which helped them survive even though their
financial status had not changed.
37
Joblessness and Meaning
The jobless person experiences emptiness of time as inner
emptiness. Just as idle organs in the body may become the
hosts for rampant growths, so idleness in the
psychological realm lead to morbid inner developments.
Unemployment becomes a culture medium for the
proliferation of neurosis. When the human spirit idles at
full throttle, so to speak, a permanent Sunday neurosis
may result.
(The Doctor and the Soul)
38
Joblessness and Meaning

“I can afford not to work” (Adult ADD Client)

“I can’t afford not to work” (Downsized Student)

“I don’t know who I am if I’m not working” (University President)

Life change often requires attitude change
 “I’ll volunteer and reach out to those who struggle like me”
 “I’ll pursue my dream now that I’ve been downsized”
 “I’ll be a late bloomer”
 “I’ll get my pilot’s license”
39
Work and Meaning for Late Bloomers

Carol Gardner and Zelda Wisdom Cards


Harland Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken


At age 52 her divorce attorney gave her some advice: “Get a therapist
or get a dog.” She got a dog ... and a multi-million dollar business.
At age 65 he had nothing but a Social Security check and a secret
recipe for fried chicken. He did okay.
Jan Hively and Retirement




Received her PhD at age 69
Helped found three organizations dedicated to empowering older
adults
Personal Credo: Maximize productivity and assure “meaningful”
work, paid or unpaid, through the last breath.
“I am doing my most meaningful work at 83.”
40
Work and Meaning
My Work:
 Writing on small pads of paper
 Carrying plates of food
 Cleaning peanut shells off the floor
 Weaving in and out of narrow and
crowded spaces while carrying trays
full of water glasses
My Perspective:
 Working with friends
 Meeting new people
 Helping families enjoy a good meal
 Contributing to my college tuition
41
Work and Meaning
I have had multiple occupations in my lifetime, in part because I have
varied interests, and in part because I like new challenges. I can relate
to trying to find that one occupation that will, in and of itself, be
fulfilling and I have yet to find it. It makes sense to me that “how I do
the work is more fulfilling than the work itself.” Yet, if I truly dislike
the work it is hard to be engaged and to even want to do it. I have
found that if I dislike the work it becomes just a means to an end, a
necessary evil and I can’t wait to get to my leisure time so I can do
something that is truly fulfilling. I am seeing that I have equated fulfillment
only with doing something that I like. I am challenged to approach my work
from a different perspective, recognizing that only I can do the work
like I do it, particularly as it impacts my coworkers and customers.
Viewing each day and each hour as an opportunity for new deeds and
experiences even within the same context seems exciting.
(Student)
42
Work and Meaning
… it cannot be said that this or that particular occupation
offers a person the opportunity for fulfillment. In this sense
no one occupation is the sole road to salvation. The work in
itself does not make the person indispensable and
irreplaceable; it only gives him or her a chance to be so.
(The Doctor and the Soul)
43
Work and Meaning

One of the reasons I want to be a counselor is because I
want to help people and interact with people. By doing
those things I have found meaning in my work.
(Student)

What is it that makes your work meaningful?
Self-Discovery?
Choices?
Uniqueness?
Responsibility?
Self-Transcendence?
44
Work and Meaning
The job at which one works is not what counts, but rather
the manner in which one does the work. It does not lie
within the occupation, but always within us, whether
those elements of our existence (particularly creative values,
uniqueness of human experience, and self-transcendence) are
expressed in the work and thus make life meaningful.
(The Doctor and the Soul)
45
Being a custodian at Trinity High School in Euless, Texas isn't the
most important job in America -- but don't tell that to Charles Clark.
For 25 years he
has been
cleaning toilets
and counseling
(loving)
students. Most
of his “clients”
are referred by
the school
counselors.
Charles Clark has helped dozens of kids turn
their lives around -- not because it was his job,
but because it needed to be done. There's a
lesson in there for anyone who feels trapped
by their title.
46
The Importance of Self-Understanding
An Old Quaker Saying
“Let your life speak.”
“Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it,
listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell
your life what truths and values you have decided to live
up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what
values you represent.”
Parker J. Palmer
Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation
47

It is of meaningful importance to you to know
who you are. Not who you seem to be behind all
the masks you have learned to put on so that
you will be loved, accepted, and successful, but
who you really are at your core. We must come
to say, “Yes, that’s the way I am. That’s how I
feel, think, and react.” Every time we catch a
glimpse of true self, we also have a glimpse of
meaning.
(Joseph Fabry, 1988)

The story of Zusya
48

Whenever you interview people who are truly successful at
their chosen profession … you discover that the secret to
their success lies in their ability to discover their strengths
and to organize their life so that these strengths can be
applied.
Now Discover Your Strengths
D. Clifton and M. Buckingham
49
Our uniqueness plays a significant role in
meaning fulfillment.
 Being self aware of our unique make-up of
personal strengths is a key to meaning fulfillment
for each individual.
 How do we come to a more accurate and clearer
understanding of individual strengths?

50
 StrengtsFinder 2.0
 Web-based tool
 Based on over 40 years
of research with more
than 3 million individuals

Translated into more than 20 languages

Used by businesses, schools, and community
groups in more than 100 nations around the
world.
51

Identifies 34 main themes of talent

Top 5 are your Signature themes

One theme is not more valuable than another
52
Strengths
Quest:
Discover and
Develop Your
Strengths in
Academics,
Career, and
Beyond
(High School
and College)
StrengthsExplorer
For Ages 10 to 14
53
The Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0


Your individual Signature Themes are unique
to you. There is a 1 in 33 million chance that
you will ever meet someone with your same
Top 5 in the order you have them.
There is a 1 in 275,000 chance that you will
ever meet someone with your same Top 5,
regardless of order.
54
Five Clues to Talent
1. Yearning: To what kinds of activities are you naturally drawn?
2. Rapid Learning: What kinds of activities do you seem to pick up
quickly?
3. Flow: In what activities did the “steps” just come to you
automatically?
4. Glimpses of Excellence: During what activities have you had
moments of subconscious excellence, when you thought, “How
did I do that?”
5. Satisfaction: What activities give you a kick, either while doing
them or immediately after finishing them, and you think, “When
can I do that again?”
55
The Clifton StrengthsFinder Signature Themes
Achiever
Context
Input
Activator
Adaptability
Analytical
Arranger
Belief
Command
Communication
Competition
Connectedness
Consistency
Deliberative
Developer
Discipline
Empathy
Focus
Futuristic
Harmony
Ideation
Includer
Individuation
Intellection
Learner
Maximizer
Positivity
Relator
Responsibility
Restorative
Self-Assurance
Significance
Strategic
Woo
56
The Clifton StrengthsFinder Signature Themes
Achiever
Context
Input
Activator
Adaptability
Analytical
Arranger
Belief
Command
Communication
Competition
Connectedness (1)
Consistency
Deliberative
Developer
Discipline
Empathy (2)
Focus
Futuristic
Harmony (4)
Ideation
Includer
Individuation
Intellection
Learner (3)
Maximizer
Positivity
Relator (5)
Responsibility
Restorative
Self-Assurance
Significance
Strategic
Woo
57
Individuals are at their best
when they do what they
naturally do best.
58
Where do you have room for your
greatest growth?
2,900
3,000
Average Reader
2,500
Above Average Reader
2,000
1,500
1,000
350
500
90
150
Time
One
Time
Two
0
Time
One
Time
Two
59
The common denominator to success or
effectiveness is not a particular set of strengths.
It is Self-Awareness
60
The Lens Through Which You See The World
Your signature themes
are not just the way you do what you do.
Your signature themes
are the lens through which you see the world.
61
The Lens Through Which You See The World
Achiever
Context
Input
Activator
Adaptability
Analytical
Arranger
Belief
Command
Communication
Competition
Connectedness
Consistency
Deliberative
Developer
Discipline
Empathy
Focus
Futuristic
Harmony
Ideation
Includer
Individuation
Intellection
Learner
Maximizer
Positivity
Relator
Responsibility
Restorative
Self-Assurance
Significance
Strategic
Woo
62
The Lens Through Which You See The World
Spending Habits
Your Marriage
Recreation
Education
Career and Work
Related Concerns
Friendships
Family
Life
Life Stressors
Unavoidable Suffering
63
Different Paths to the Same Destination
Starting a New Job
Responsibility
Command
Learner
“What needs to be
done?”
“What projects am I
leading?”
“What training is
available?”
“What time should I
be there?”
“When do I actually “Are there materials I
get to meet with my can read before my
clients?”
first day on the job?”
“I hope I get it
right?”
“Whom did you say I
am in charge of ?”
“Who knows a lot
about this role?”
“Is there an example
of this report I can
follow?”
“What needs to be
done first?”
“When does new
employee orientation
take place?”
64
Different Paths to the Same Destination
Grief and Loss
 Pursuing a Love/Romantic Relationship
 Facing Surgery
 Buying a Lawnmower
 Taking on new responsibility at work

65

Logotherapy focuses on the future, that is to say,
on the meanings to be fulfilled by the client in
his/her future.
Viktor Frankl (MSM, pg. 104)

The StrengthsFinder tool focuses on the
avenues through which the individual is most
likely to be successful in the pursuit of meaning
fulfillment.
66
Let Your Life Speak
Listening for the Voice of Vocation
Vocation
The place where your deep gladness
meets the world’s deep need.
67
Let Your Life Speak
Listening for the Voice of Vocation
What you do is of great importance!
Thank you for the deeply meaningful work you do.
68
Thank you for your participation.
You have made this
a meaningful experience for me.
69
Fly UP