Why Does Great Work Matter? With Dr. Amanda Crowell – Encore | UYGW28

We are excited to bring you this encore presentation of our first episode which remains one of our most popular ones. We hope you enjoy! 

In this, the inaugural episode, we start at the very beginning: What is Great Work, and Why does it matter? And, of course, we start where all good podcasts should: with death. 

Join me as we discuss:

  • Why knowing from a young age that we will die sparks our desire for Great Work
  • How Great Work feels
  • Why the screaming face emoji is so important
  • Who am I, and why does Great Work matter to me?
  • What Great Work is, and what it isn’t.

About the Host:

Dr. Amanda Crowell is a cognitive psychologist, speaker, author and coach changing our perspective on the world of work. It IS possible to do Great Work– launch a successful business, make a scientific discovery, raise a tight-knit family, or manage a global remote team– without sacrificing your health, happiness and relationships.

Amanda is the Author of the forthcoming book, Great Work: Do What Matter Most Without Sacrificing Everything Else, and the creator of the Great Work Journals. Amanda’s TEDx talk has received more than a million views and has been featured on TED’s Ideas blog and Ted Shorts.

Her ideas have also been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, and Thrive Global.

Sponsored By The Aligned Time Journal

The Unleashing Your Great Work podcast is sponsored by the Aligned Time Journal! The Aligned Time Journal is here to answer the question “But HOW?” How can we figure out what our Great Work is? How can we get started, stay with it, and finish our Great Work so it can go out in the world and have an impact?

Click here to learn more, and try it out for yourself!

For more information about the Unleashing YOUR Great Work podcast or to learn more about Dr. Amanda Crowell, check out my website: amandacrowell.com

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Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Welcome to unleashing your great work, a podcast about doing the work that matters the most to you. I'm your host, Dr. Amanda Crowell, a cognitive psychologist, coach, and the creator of the aligned time journal. Every week, we're here asking the big questions. What does it take to create something of your own? How do we overcome the procrastination, failure and rejection that comes prepackaged with great work? And while we're at it, what is your great work? How would you know? How can you find out? We'll explore all of this and more. So get in here, and let's unleash your great work.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

All right, people, we're going to start in a dark place. Here's the truth, you and I are going to die. It's true. One day, this form that we're in this bag of bones and flesh and sentience is going to break, some part of us is going to stop working. If we die when we're young, it's likely to be a traumatic death, like a car wreck or suicide. And if we make it to middle age, we're likely to die of heart problems or cancer. And if we make it to old age, and everything else is ticking away, we can always count on our brain, just because it simply isn't designed to last for so long. Whatever the cause of your demise, demise, you shall, as my grandpa always said, None of us is getting out of here alive. Now, the craziest part of being human is not that we're going to die. Every single living thing on this planet is going to die. From the short lived moths to the ancient redwood trees, the ultimate outcome is the same. No, we aren't special because we die. That is the most normal thing about our species. Humans are special, because we knew all along that we were going to die. No other species is living with this information. Birds aren't sitting around thinking about how little time they have left. Lions are not talking to each other about how to get the most out of the time that they have. Lizards aren't sitting around worrying that if I crossed the street, I might get hit. And then I'll die. Like we're the only ones sitting around grappling with the reality that our time on earth will some day. And my son Alex, who is nine years old and is obsessed with this idea, and not in a good way keeps asking me whether I'm 100% sure that he specifically is going to die. He's tried lots of different tactics, asking me if I'm sure every living thing dies. Am I sure that all the dead people are actually dead? And asking me whether I'm sure that I'm going to die? He's asking me every which way? Because he's hoping that maybe just maybe that answer will change. It doesn't though. But Mom, he asks, What does it all mean? Well, Alex, it means that there are no guarantees, not even for another single day. In fact, the only thing we have is today, right now, this moment. Ah, shit. This is what the philosophers call existential crisis. This is where we realized that our existence, my existence, my essence, my essentialism, my demandingness, his Alex SNESs, your Yunus. It's in crisis. And like all good life crises, this one brings out some big questions. Okay, I'm here, but not for long. Why? What's the meaning of life? Why am I here? Why Are any of us here? Now, around the same time, you know, like nine or 10 years old, we have a few other Wake Up Calls to, we realized that our teachers and guitar tutors, they don't live in the supply closets when we're not there. But they're real people in the grocery shop and they attend street pairs. We realize that we may have trouble believing it that our parents are want small children who went to school and learn to read. In fact, even our grandparents were children and their grandparents to the realization ultimately hits us like a thunderbolt. All humans in all of history, are people who were born as babies, became children, and then grew up and did really cool Marone up things. Albert Einstein, a baby who grew up to bend to the spacetime continuum, William Shakespeare, once a child just like us, who became the person Wikipedia calls the greatest writer in the English language, and he was born and 1564 to 450 years is a long time to carry that kind of title. But they're not the only ones. There's Mary curry, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou. And one of my personal heroes, Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, all of these amazing people were once children, they were kids, they grew up and then like magic. They became great. This realization distracts us from our existential crisis. Yes, all those people are dead. But before they died, they were great. Now we know what we're here for. We're here to be great. You think I'm wrong? Go find a child right now and ask them what they want to be when they grow up. They do not have small dreams. Hang on. Let's ask Alex. Hey, Alex. Yeah. What are you gonna be when you grow up? I don't know. Maybe a pitcher for the Red Sox? Maybe the astronaut? Maybe you're a rock star? But honestly, I don't know. What do you think I will be? I think that you will be awesome. Well, that's just nice. All in all, that's just nice. Oh, my God, oh, my God, I'm blushing. So yes, we're going to die. And that sucks. But at least we get to do awesome stuff. While we're here, we could definitely invent them up. It's like Jim Henson, or discover radiation therapy like Mary curry. Or at the very least, we can go into space and discover a new planet. You know, consolation prizes. This realization that we can do amazing things helps to resolve the existential crisis. It satisfies the part of us that wants to believe that we are here for a reason, and that our lives will be meaningful.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

This resolution allows us to calm down, you know enough to get on with it. We grow up, we finish school, we learn a lot of things about ourselves. Turns out we're definitely afraid of heights. So being an astronaut is a non starter. But at the same time, you discover that you have an incredibly deep seated almost indefatigable commitment to social justice, or comic books, or pets, or something else. And every person, there are a few things that call them from the inside that stop you in your tracks and make you wonder, could I do that? Could I be a part of the solution for the problem that keeps me up at night? Could I illustrate heroes who unexpectedly save the world? Could I help save pets from untimely deaths in shelters? Or I don't know. Could I build a multimillion dollar business selling gadgets that change the face of work? Could I could I really, that right there, that voice in your head, spinning those tales of impact and creation and excitement? That's the voice of your great work? Great work is the tuning fork or the homing pigeon, or, you know that submarine radar thing? No, I'm talking about the great work inside of you emits this sound. And then when that sound hits opportunities to do your great work, it comes back to the summary and that is to say it comes back to you. That's your great work calling. Every time you hear it, it picks your ears when you see it catches your eye. When you see someone else doing it, you get envious. And every time your mind wanders into the realm of daydreams, there you are standing on that stage inspiring the masses or in the Shark Tank pitching your great idea, or working away in your light flooded artists studio. Whatever your great work is, there you are doing it. unleashing your great work is sponsored by the aligned time journal. As you think about great work, you might think, okay, but how? How do I figure out what my great work is? How do I make progress on it? How do I overcome procrastination, burnout and perfectionism. What I like to call The three horsemen of the gold pocalypse. My answer to that question is use the aligned time journal. It's a whole person time management system that will keep you moving forward on your great work without ever feeling overwhelmed. Click the link in the show notes to check it out. Give it a try and get busy unleashing your great work out into the world.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Everyone has great work calling from inside of them. It's like a thread running straight through the desires. Something that brings together our most moving experiences. It feeds off our natural driving interest and it sparks that raging fire of curiosity. In all my many years of teaching and coaching, I've never met a single person who didn't have great work calling them from the inside. I've met a ton of people who think they don't have any great work, who worry that they're all over the place or not very driven or lazy or that they suffer from congenital procrastination. But at this point in my career, I've stopped believing them. Not going to believe you either. If you're protesting, I know for sure that great work lives in you. We just have to find it. Don't worry. I'll help you. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by human potential. Though I still am, as a matter of fact, I remember once in the summer before ninth grade, I had a friend over. And we were talking about high school, we were starting soon, and she was certain it was gonna be very boring or terrible or scary. I don't remember the details of our conversation. But I remember like it was yesterday, her saying, at the very end, I haven't felt this excited about my future and career and life and stuff, like ever. Hey, and listen, I'm not making fun of her. This is how we talked in Ohio in the 90s. And I wasn't blowing smoke up our ass. I really always have. And I really always will believe that life is exciting and productive into grand adventure if you choose for it to be. I've seen that potential all around me for as long as I can remember. I love cities, because somebody dreamed up those skyscrapers, those parks, those enormous cloverleaf off ramps, and then through the collective work of their colleagues and communities, they were brought into enormous life shaping form. I love art, especially art that shifts the paradigm, cubism, which I find fascinating to look at, and even impressionism which I usually find kind of boring. I am nonetheless fascinated by them. Because a group of people saw the world in a new way. And then collectively, they put their brush to canvas and showed the rest of us an entirely new way to see the world. And we were never the same. I mean, where would we be without that melting face emoji? Nowhere, we'd be nowhere. I love it when people do their great work when they have an idea and then go do it. I am a voracious reader of memoirs and autobiographies, and I scan nonfiction books like a heat seeking missile, for information about the human being who did the thing. These people put it all on the line over and over again, until they arrive somewhere extraordinary. Now, before you go, thinking that great work is all about being great, like being famous or receiving critical acclaim or changing the face of art, it's not really, I mean, you are very unlikely to be great if you don't do great work, but great work isn't about how it's received. Great work is about how it makes you feel. Great work makes you feel alive in the flow, and like you're living with purpose. And that can happen entirely off the beaten path. And Mike McCalla wits, his book The Pumpkin Plan, there's a story about a man who proudly emphatically and joyfully grew the world's largest pumpkin. So great work isn't about greatness. And it might surprise you to discover that it also isn't about work. Our culture has a bit of a reputation for being career centric. And I have to admit, I have a reputation for being career centric, too. But that's not the only way it's done. I often hear all inspiring great work stories that involve caretaking my husband's cousin was born with cerebral palsy in 1959. At that time, a child with cerebral palsy wasn't expected to live past his 20s, maybe his 30s and it was expected that he would live in an institution. But his mother refused to accept that reality. She took him every week to Philadelphia for treatments, worked with him at home every day, and breathed life into him through sheer force of will and it worked. He recently had his 60th birthday. That's great work right there. Great work isn't about your job, which means that there are opportunities for great work and your personal non work life. Big and small opportunities to do great work about growing orchids hiking the entire Appalachian Trail or making the perfect sourdough starter. All of these things can be great work. Anything that keeps you on your evolving edge is part of something greater, and is done in community has the potential for greatness in it. So if great work isn't about greatness, and it isn't about work, then what is it? Now that's one of the questions that drives this podcast. What is great work? What does it look like?

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

What makes it possible given how easy it is to procrastinate and hide away? Let's say that we do decide to do our great work what gets in our way, when we get started? What helps us persist? How can we finish more of it and get it out into the world? I've been studying this for decades in lots of different ways. I studied it from a scholarly perspective. As I was earning my PhD in cognitive psychology and teaching psychology at the University level. I was and still am desperate to discover how we learn what motivates us and how our expertise or our highest level of capability develops across the lifespan. I've looked at it from a developmental perspective seeking answers about what in our lives as children, encourage us to pursue our great work versus pushing our great work down, pretending it doesn't exist. And in the past seven or so years, I've supported great work through coaching. People come to me all the time asking me to help them overcome their stuckness work through their overwhelm and get busy so they can finally finally do their great work. We'll dig into what I've discovered to be the characteristics of great work in the very next episode. with what I've discovered in my journey may very well surprise you. I'll see you then.


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