Finding meaning in our work


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Jonathan Malesic on finding meaning in our work.



Guest: Jonathan Malesic

What typically doesn't show up on Jon's bio: The Parking Lot Movie

I learned a lot working as a parking lot attendant. I think it's made me a better worker and a better person. – Jonathan Malesic


Don’t search for “purpose.” You will fail. by Jonathan Malesic in The New Republic.

Pursuing “purpose”

Find your purpose!

— Jon Malesic (@JonMalesic) May 23, 2015

The components of finding “purpose”

  1. You love it
  2. The world needs it
  3. You are paid for it
  4. You are great at it

The intersections

  • 1/2 = Mission (you love it and the world needs it)
  • 2/3 = Vocation (the world needs it and you are paid for it)
  • 3/4 = Profession (you are paid for it and you are great at it)
  • 4/1 = Passion (you are great at it and you love it)

The often unlabeled overlaps in the Venn diagram

  • Please don’t be a physician (you love it; the world needs it)
  • Burnout (the world needs it; you can be paid for it)
  • Kardashian (you can be paid for it; you are good at it)
  • Exploitation (you are good at it; you love it)


Pursuing “success”

The best productivity tool we have as faculty is not a technology; it's our personal self-investment in our work. It's our commitment to students. It's our commitment to research. It's our commitment to our institutions. – Jonathan Malesic

We can be so committed to our work that we eventually start to hate it. We have identified ourselves so strongly with it that it becomes too much of a burden for our work. – Jonathan Malesic

Students' evaluation of us and student learning doesn't necessarily match up very well with our evaluation of ourselves. – Jonathan Malesic

That's still something worth hoping for… But, it's important to tell students that [the center piece] isn't always attainable. There's a lot of meaning to be had in our work, even if we don't hit that “sweet spot.” – Jonathan Malesic

Article: Job, career, vocation, life by Charles Matthews in Inside HigherEd

Other articles suggested by Jon on this topic

In the Name of Love, by Miya Tokumitsu

A Life Beyond Do What You Love, by Gordon Marino

No Time: How Did We Get so Busy?, by Elizabeth Kolbert



Bonni recommends:

Jon recommends:

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