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Stephen Hawking's advice for a fulfilling career

Stephen Hawking left a legacy that transcended academia – it’s found in motion pictures, best-selling books, and beyond.

史蒂芬·霍金(Stephen Hawking)留下的遗产已经远远超出学术范围,霍金这个名字已经成为电影、畅销书等流行文化的一部分。

His passion for science and unlocking the universe’s secrets inspired millions across the globe to be more curious about the universe.


In a 2010 interview with American journalist Diane Sawyer on ABC World News, Sawyer asked Hawking what advice he’d give to his children. One of the pieces of advice: “Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it.”

2010年,美国ABC电视台世界新闻栏目记者戴安娜·索耶(Diane Sawyer)在采访霍金时,问他会给子女哪些建议。霍金说:"工作会给你的生活意义和成就感。如果不去工作,你的生活就是空虚的。"

Could his philosophy of work apply to all of us? Is life really empty without a job that not only puts bread on the table, but that also becomes self-actualising personal fulfilment?


“If you love what you do, then small problems that come up aren’t going to bug you and make you want to quit. It’s good for the individual and the organisation,” says Sally Maitlis, professor of organisational behaviour and leadership at the University of Oxford. “But when you love it to the point that it’s absolutely central to how you understand yourself and what your contribution to the world is, it can be damaging.”

"如果你热爱自己的职业,那么一般性的小问题就不会困扰到你,让你心怀退意。这对个人和组织都大有好处,"牛津大学组织行为及领导力学科教授萨莉·麦特里斯(Sally Maitlis)表示。"但是,如果工作变成了你理解你自己的核心,以及你对世界的贡献仅限于自己的工作,那失去工作就会带来严重后果。"

Maitlis explored this notion last year with Kira Schabram, a University of Washington management professor, with a study of 50 animal shelter workers in North America: many were attracted to the occupation because of a childhood love of animals, or a belief that they had the right skills to make a difference.

去年,麦特里斯与华盛顿大学管理学教授基拉·沙布拉姆(Kira Schabram)对北美地区50名动物救助站工作人员进行了调查:大多数人在这里工作的原因都是由于孩童时期喜欢动物,或者他们相信自己有足够能力改变这里动物的命运。

As a result, workers poured in extra hours, volunteered for difficult shifts, constantly shared ideas. But many eventually burnt out or became frustrated. They encountered frequent euthanasia of animals, or had to deal with the realities of meager resources and poor management that plagued many of the shelters. Some eventually quit.


Still, Maitlis and other experts all agree that picking a career that gives you an inner compass of purpose absolutely has positive effects on your life. Research has long backed this.


Last month, the American Psychological Association published an article that synthesised findings on this topic that stretch back as far as 1993. Research from Harvard professor Teresa Amabile found that “no matter the size of a goal – whether curing cancer or helping a colleague – having a sense of meaning and feeling a sense of progress can contribute to happiness in the workplace.”

上个月,美国心理学协会发布了一篇文章,对这个早在1993年就开始出现的话题进行了综述。哈佛大学教授特蕾莎·阿玛贝尔(Teresa Amabile)研究发现,"无论目标大小,无论是治愈癌症还是帮助同事,明确工作的意义,并且感到进步都会让你在工作中活得快乐。"

But finding work with purpose can be hard for many.


Anat Lechner, a management professor at New York University, says it’s simply a matter of being aware of what you love to do. It’s when you’re so enthralled with what you’re doing, it’s hard to separate the hobby from the actual job. “You can’t separate Elon Musk from everything that he’s building,” she says.

纽约大学管理学教授阿那特·莱西那(AnatLechner)称,重要的是首先要知道你喜欢做什么。当你做一件工作时感到非常轻松愉快时,可以说你已经把爱好和工作紧密地结合在了一起。"埃隆·马斯克(Elon Musk)和他所从事的事业密不可分,"她说。

And while many people can actually identify these passions – the things that they naturally gravitate toward and might do for fun off the clock – they often don’t act on them, in terms of creating a career. 纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com


“They would rather go work at the JP Morgans because they think it’s a safe bet,” Lechner says. “They put a stop to things that otherwise could prosper and grow and value-add, and the world could pay back in a good way.”


The art of crafting


Amy Wrzesniewski, professor of organisational behaviour at Yale University, suggests overcoming this by “job crafting”: teasing out the bits you like about your current job, and then spin off into something that’s more rewarding as a whole.

耶鲁大学组织行为学教授艾米·沃赞聂维斯基(Amy Wrzesniewski)表示,可以通过一种名为"定制工作"的方法解决这个矛盾:提取出你当前职业中的有趣部分,然后把它融入报酬更高的职业。

This can apply to those types of workers Schabram and Maitlis studied: the ones who landed their dream job, but it wasn’t what they expected.


“Is there some way to stay involved in music, or whatever it might be, that allows you to connect with the elements [of the job] that are most meaningful?” Wrzesniewski asks. “Instead of being backed into a role definition?”


Some of the workers in Schabram and Maitlis’s study did this by pivoting away from shelters and turning to other jobs that were still animal-centric, like grooming and training.


Wrzesniewski also points to a self-sabotaging world view that prohibits people from finding the things they like.


Some think “you sort of have to discover it – almost like it’s an objective identity that lives in the world, and you have to turn over enough rocks to find it,” Wrzesniewski says. “It can create a ton of anxiety.” Instead, the process can be more trial-and-error experimenting.


Homing in on what you love can give you the raw energy that blends career and identity; that allows your work to give you greater meaning and purpose beyond chasing promotions or paying bills.


“When you’re so immersed in what it is you do, you become one,” Lechner says. “I think Hawking had that.”




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