Finding Rewarding Work Starts with Elephants


In this 5 minute Mach10 Quick Tip, I explore the starting point for positive change in your work life.


What’s the first step for finding rewarding work?

Elephants. Yes, it starts with elephants. Hear me out.

We all experience disagreeable moments at work — maybe our boss refuses to listen or the content of our work becomes boring. Of course there are many other causes.

When these negative moments begin to dominate our experience and even worsen, work can become a major source of stress, tainting and even diminishing the net rewards.

Stress consumes energy, and since we spend close to 50% of our waking hours working, a negative work experience will inherently reduce our energy for our leisure and family life. As a reminder, our energy is fairly fixed – we have a ”body budget” and stress takes big debits from that budget. True: eating well, sleeping well and exercising can counteract some of this.

When we’re dissatisfied with our work, the signs are always present. However, our willingness to engage with these signs varies. To use a popular term, this is OUR OWN PERSONAL ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. Except it’s in our own mind and body.

It’s those thoughts and feelings that we either block or numb — because they feel so darn existential and just the thought of making a change is either too threatening or overwhelming.

One of the most rewarding aspects of coaching career development and leadership is seeing people become more aware and accepting of how they feel about work and supporting their quest for positive change. It is so exciting to observe their excitement and relief.

But before you can make positive change, you first need to take a good look at that elephant. You need to explore why you feel dissatisfied with work before you can envision what positive change means to you and begin to mobilize for change. The answer may surprise you and lead to unexpected change.

And let me tell you: it will be worth it. Living with our defenses and the collateral damage they can produce is almost always worse than the outcome we’re so afraid of.

So find the courage to engage with your elephant: if you don’t, you’ll never know what positive change can do for you.

And if we can support your quest for rewarding work, send me a note at

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