Go find your cello.

— if you feel numb at work.

Photo by Maria Cappelli on Unsplash

“A global poll conducted by Gallup has uncovered that out of the world’s one billion full-time workers, only 15% of people are engaged at work. That means that an astronomical 85% of people are unhappy in their jobs.”

Some thoughts about that quote above…

I used to be a commercial diver, and I hated it. Every morning I’d drive to work feeling that ‘pit’ in my stomach as I braced myself for another day of… well, the water was cold for sure, but the main pain was knowing that another whole day of my life was about to be wasted. Squandered. Again. Doing something I didn’t like, that wasn’t me, that was not my passion, that did nothing much for the world and certainly harm to the environment, that was not making the contribution to people I hoped I might be able to make. I felt I was meant for something else, but I didn’t know what it was. This is a pic of me at the time working on a fish farm:

And I wasn’t alone. Diving for a living isn’t mainstream, but feeling like ‘we were meant for something amazing while staring at the walls of a job we feel numb in, or hate, and worrying that we might just miss the boat on finding our thing’, is.

A perspective I’d like to submit:

If you took Yo Yo Ma, stripped him of his cello and any recollection that he played the cello, then stuck him in an insurance office doing a mundane paperwork job… you might notice that, over time, his eyes lose their spark. And some deep, numbing, even health-damaging state of ‘something is off here’ starts to settle in.

He might catch himself staring out the window thinking something like: “I just do not like this. Doesn’t matter how many staff BBQs they give us, I still. Just. Don’t. Want. To be here. I don’t feel alive anymore. This is not me. Something big is missing. But I just don’t know what the *&$# it is. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just broken, unable to be content with this otherwise ‘not too hard’ job. It pays the bills…

why can I not just be content?”

Because you’re Yo Yo Ma. That’s why. Different plants thrive in different soils. People are the same. Your intuition that something is ‘off’ is accurate.

You’re about to leave that office next Tuesday, and take a walk on your lunch break. You’re about to take a new route — the long way to the coffee shop to get as much time out of the office as you can squeeze. You’re about to walk past a music shop window in which you will spy… a cello. A tingle of ‘something’ will ripple on your skin. The sounds of the world around you become suddenly quiet and crisp, and before you know what you’ve done… you’re asking the clerk “how much is that cello in the window?”

Your life is about to change.

Strip Yo Yo Ma of his cello, Jimi Hendrix of his guitar, Lady GaGa of her voice, Nelson Mandela of his political passion, your favourite coffee shop, crafter, or entrepreneur of the idea they had, the author whose book changed your life…. Strip them of these things and any memory of having done so, and stick them in an office or on a construction site, or even an unemployment line and expect them not to feel ‘unwell’ inside and you have an accurate picture of the work world around us right now.

It’s ok to feel like something’s missing. It is. You’re right.

Go find your cello. It is not too late.

Even if you have to, or want to, bring it back to work with you.

Can’t wait to hear you play.

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