The four quadrants of your career

A career is a peculiar combination of something that you do and something that you are. And questions about what you are, how to live, the purpose of life, and how you derive meaning are inherently spiritual or religious.

The connection between career and spirituality is deep, and that’s why my own work as a career coach is influenced by Ken Wilber, one of today’s most widely read thinkers about spirituality (a man once called “the most important philosopher you’ve never heard of” by Salon.com). Wilber calls his approach to life “integral,” and so do I.

An integral perspective on careers includes four different perspectives: individual subjective, individual objective, intersubjective, and interobjective (corresponding basically to psychological, biological, cultural, and sociological perspectives). Consider this illustration (from IntegralLife.com):

So when you think about your own career growth, there are essentially four different sorts of questions that you can ask, which are all variations on these themes: How do I think and feel about my career? How do I act in my career? What does our culture believe about careers? And how does our society structure the framework within which careers exist?

No consideration of a career is complete without looking at all these three angles. Accordingly, SeattleJobCoach.com will incorporate perspectives from all these domains, and we hope the result will be a more comprehensive view than you will find on other career sites (which tend to limit themselves only to the individual side of things).

Changing dysfunctional economies and dysfunctional careers

Joe Biden recently said, “I’ve never seen an economy this dysfunctional.”

National and state unemployment figures show some signs of stabilizing, but holding steady at an alarmingly high level is not encouraging news. Some career professionals believe that they have to avoid frank talk of facts and figures about the job market, unemployment rates, and the “r” word. Many coaches won’t discuss the realities “out there,” because they think individuals are powerless to change the recession. But what if they’re wrong?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, looking truthfully at the macro-economic environment can be empowering in multiple ways… if one understands that by working together individuals can create changes that have ripple effects in direct ways that change lives.

For example, an unemployed factory worker who understands the dynamics of the changing economy and believes that she can make a difference will get retrained with skills in a thriving industry and demand political action from Washington to create the sort of economically stimulating and progressive policies that can allow that to happen. But a cynic in the same boat could lash out indiscriminately towards political incumbents, reaching for a convenient scapegoat. Or they might join a reactionary political movement. They might even tell pollsters that they have given up on hope.

A dysfunctional economy creates dysfunctional careers and dysfunctions in the human spirit. A truly empowering and integral approach to career coaching begins by embracing the possibilities for transformation in all areas: self, culture, and society.