This phrase occurred to me a couple of years ago, and I can’t seem to kick it. Lately, I took some time to consider more carefully what it might mean to me – especially as I bring my skills and my good will into the world as a solo enterpenuer.
As a lover of language, I appreciate the playfulness, perhaps irreverence, of the phrase, a twist on “hard work,” something I learned a lot about as little Lutheran boy of Nordic roots in the Midwest.
As an observer of culture, I’ve noticed that our conversation about “heart” and “hearts” is often dominated by loud, youthful and saccharine expressions of romantic love rather than gestures of our human need for simple, real, honest, authentic connection. Something about the phrase points us toward the simple recognition that such connection takes work – at the very least, the effort of shifting our attention away from our public image, inward toward how it actually feels to be alive.
As someone who has spent his career in mental health care, education and adult development, I like the phrase as a descriptor of people who commit themselves to caring directly for other people - therapists, coaches, social workers, teachers, doctors, nurses, holistic health practitioners, etc. Call them HeartWorkers.
I’m aware that in the fields of education, mental health and allopathic healthcare, there is a high rate of stress that can easily, over time, lead to burnout or compassion fatigues. This is tragic considering the good hearts and good intentions – the beautiful impulse to be helpful – that people in these professions start with.
I’m considering focusing my business on supporting these people – these HeartWorkers – helping them heal from burnout, recognize the signs of burnout, and build a culture in which care is the common currency.
If you’re a HeartWorker, I’d love to talk to you about your experience.