Tired of Your Job? Here are 3 Infallible Career Tips from Aristotle

Your job may probably be one of the few things that you’re not too excited about when it comes to your daily life. True, work is something that you gain profit from, but according to the Deloitte Shift Index, 80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs –and you might just be one of them.

Most of the time, the reason behind this is lack of purpose and leadership in the working space; most just cannot appreciate why they are doing their job other than for company profits. You see, the reason of dissatisfaction is external, more so today when our new generation of working force is more idealistic than ever in history.

On the other side, given the same conditions, there also exists a few 20% who are actually satisfied with their jobs. Some may be just contented, some may be just well-compensated, but we cannot deny that a small bunch of those included here are what we may call the “Masters” of their respective work. These people are the spearheads, the captains, the innovators, the heroes of their field. We may not know them, but they exist –names behind the curtain like J. B. Straubel of Tesla or Eric Shmidt of Google.

They are just doing a daily job too like most of us today; but what is it that sets them apart? To answer this question, we picked up pieces of the best career advice from one of history’s greatest teachers: Aristotle.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." -Aristotle

This line that was translated from one Aristotle’s ancient works says a lot about the nature of any specific career. Be you a lawyer or a carpenter, it takes time and patience to be a true Master of the craft; there are no shortcuts. Therefore, Aristotle is telling us that excellence is something that is not born into every person, but something a person has total control of. If your co-worker is doing better than you, according to Aristotle, it just means that he or she just did way more practice or personal skills training (related to your job) than you –perhaps without you even knowing.

However, while repetitiveness is a key to greatness, it can also be a bottleneck. It cannot be emphasized more that a lot of people nowadays tend to constantly look for better jobs because of the nature of dissatisfaction mentioned above. While this is a good exercise for finding the best niche for your expertise, if unexamined, it may reach a “point of diminishing returns” and can turn into a negative habit.

What are your negative habits? How often do you complain about things you don’t have any control of? It is essential to remember that the only helpful kind of repetitiveness is positive repetitiveness. Remember that negative repetitiveness possesses the same potency and acceleration as positive repetitiveness, but the thing is, it takes you to the opposite direction –a downward spiral. To maintain positive repetitiveness, refrain from letting external forces which you cannot control dictate your inner state. The only thing you can control is your own self and thoughts. Take your positive state from there. This leads us to the next lesson.

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." -Aristotle

This quote from Aristotle speaks about keeping your “drawing board” in order and purified from anything that might redirect its course away from a goal. He said that your mind must “be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” To do this, one must learn how to properly associate pleasure and pain. If you yourself associate pleasurable things (like success, love, gratitude, fame, expertise, security, romance, adventure) to your work, and painful things (like sickness, poverty, unworthiness, suffering) to things that discourage you from doing your best in it, you will find out that the latter will have zero power of affecting you. This highly valuable skill of deciding what to associate pleasure and pain to is what Aristotle calls “the mark of an educated mind.”

Demanding bosses, gossiping colleagues, overtimes, and other work sacrifices will lose its negative effect to the mind if the pain that you have associated in giving up because of them are worse than the actual temporary inconvenience they cause. When you finally learn how to do this, you will find out that your work output will become leaps beyond the rest in terms of quality, you will be empowered enough to excel, you will not mind repeating tasks, and you will realize that you can actually feel happy with your job (which is the last lesson).

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” -Aristotle

This saying is probably one of the simplest ones from the great Philosopher but it speaks volumes about the problems that we face in our daily jobs. You must remember that happiness is merely a feeling. Ask yourself this: why do you want to be successful? Is it so that you can feel secured? So, that you can feel loved? So that you can buy all the things you want? Then why do you want to buy all the things you want? Is it so that you can feel good and confident? So that you can feel happy?

The answer to all these comes from Aristotle’s greatest secrets: you can make yourself feel all these beautiful feelings right there where you are, and right now. No external inputs are needed for you to feel that. Your mind is the only thing that can make you feel happy or sad, and to be on top of this, you must learn how to decide for yourself your own meaning of things and events. How often do we put negative meanings to things compared to positive? When your boss yells at you, you can either think that he did it because you are worthless, or you can think that he did it because he does care and does not want you to look incompetent in the eyes of the even higher bosses. One meaning can make you feel sad, while the other can make your mind generate the opposite chemical reactions and in turn will make you feel inspired and happy.

Now, if you can finally learn how to feel happy regardless of any circumstances in your job, you can gradually find out that work is actually a beautiful art which is part of a beautiful system. When your perspective finally transforms, all loopholes and niches will reveal itself to you. Remember how Alexander the Great discovered for himself the key to winning every battle during his time? It’s not that he was some kind of a demigod, it’s because he was happy and passionate with what he was doing. In his relaxed state, his difficulties and challenges became clear, light, and acceptable –which made him see clearly in contrast the one trump card that’s been hiding itself from plain sight: the Macedonian Phalanx. This is one of those discoveries that makes the difference between Master and typical –and I believe, Aristotle’s teachings played a big part here; after all, he himself was Alexander’s personal mentor.

Now that you have an idea of how Aristotle’s teachings can be applied to your daily job,  start looking at things from a different perspective. Proper habits, proper association of pleasure and pain, and deciding your own meaning of things, are sure methods for you to be the best in your work or master any craft.

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