“Human beings who live meaningful lives are happier, more productive, healthier, less stressed and more responsible”.

Marjolein Lips-Wiersma

“We have many ways of distracting ourselves at work. But that’s not good enough, and we know it. We know it because we’re human beings.”

Research shows that fewer than 50% of people are engaged in the work they are doing. Pushing around your pen, counting the hours until 5pm and sneaking surreptitious glances at package holidays in work hours is just not good enough, argues Marjo Lips-Wiersma.

If you are aimlessly wandering the Internet in search of a distraction, they come no better than this. Asking yourself “what is the point?” may seem a ridiculously futile activity, and could well serve only to depress you more. But what if there were a way to find meaning in the work you do? What if meaning is closer than you think?

In this inspiring and engaging TEDx talk, Marjo Lips-Wiersma explains how the Map of Meaning is a useful tool to all human beings in our quest to find meaning in our lives. She says: “Good economic times and personal times will come and go. But our yearning for meaning will always demand an answer. We can’t give up on it. You know it, and you live it. And when you lose it, you can always find it again.”

You can watch Marjo’s talk here:


Marjo has co-authored with Lani Morris a book on the subject. The Map of Meaning explains in further detail how it is possible to align our deeper life purposes with our daily actions in the workplace.

Reviewer John Kay praises the book for its “highly practical, easy-to-follow yet thorough treatment of what we mean by ‘meaning’ in our lives, and how we can increase that meaning.”

He says: “This book can make a major impact on the lives of many, wherever they work and whatever their faith.

“In a world where there is ever-growing stress and where the economic and social system based on individualism is being challenged, it is a very timely publication… The book, which is written with considerable humility, is the result of over 15 years of research and practice. Its premise is that we are more likely to find work and life meaningful if we have a practical way of engaging with these deeper questions of meaning…

“By asking people to describe the things that give meaning to their lives and work, Marjolein was able to draw up the Map shown [in the video] which can then be used by us all as we seek to increase the meaning and balance of our lives.

I have been aware of the Map for several years, and have indeed flirted with its use, but it is only through reading this book that I have grasped its full significance and potential.

“The Map is not prescriptive, nor does it classify or judge. It helps the reader to access what we already know deep down to be important to our humanity. It helps us bring it to the surface, act upon it, and bring it to life… The authors provide unpretentious exercises that bring these three elements to life, examples of how they have been used, and of the impact they have had on those involved. Though these exercises are simple, they are also profound; they draw you towards your inner self but allow you to be your own guide so that you are never out of your depth.

“I have been a leadership trainer and coach for many years, and have experienced many tools and therapies in the personal development arena. I have found that many of these have shortcomings and indeed dangers, primarily because they are rooted in an economic, rational and individualistic approach to life and are couched in specialist language. The Map’s power comes from being more broadly based, expressed in everyday English… I have been aware of the Map for several years, and have indeed flirted with its use, but it is only through reading this book that I have grasped its full significance and potential.

“I recommend this book to you.”

John Kay is Director of Change Management in Transforming Business at the University of Cambridge. Previously a partner with the international consultancy PA, with experience of over 30 years, he is an expert on high-performance organisations, delivering sustainable change and coaching business leaders.

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The Map of Meaning
Marjolein Lips-Wiersma is Associate Professor of Management Studies at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. She has spent the last 15 years understanding the theme of meaningful work in practical and empirical ways. She has been a board director, chair of the Management, Spirituality and Religion group of the Academy of Management, and regularly works with individuals, groups and organisations to diagnose and action how to create more meaningful work and work practices. Her academic work has won several awards. She has integrated the theme of meaningful work into a wide range of teaching including undergraduate business ethics, postgraduate responsible leadership and executive MBA organisational behaviour. She is co-author of The Map of Meaning.

Buy The Map of Meaning direct from Greenleaf Publishing and receive a 30% discount on the paperback. Just use discount code MOM103 at the checkout.

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