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Meaning in Work: The Spirit of Esthetics

By: Anne Martin
Posted: February 28, 2011, from the March 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Editor’s note: This article is based on the author’s presentation “Meaning in Work: The Spirit of Esthetics,” which was presented in the Advanced Education Conference Program at Face & Body Midwest Conference and Expo in Chicago March 12–14, 2011.

All spa professionals reading this—whether you’ve practiced 22 days, 22 months, 22 years, or what may feel like 222 years—are colleagues. You are a group of like-minded individuals; in Buddhism, this is called a sangha. No matter how differently you may practice, each from the other, medical, ayurvedic, American, European and the like; no matter age differences, political beliefs, spiritual practices, thoughts on the economy ... you are bound by the thread, the sutra, of the practice of esthetics.

With that in mind, what if you stop thinking potentially divisive thoughts, such as wholistic is better than medical or machines better than herbs? What if you let go of the fear that others know more than you or the thought that, “I’ve been doing this for so long, the younger ones will pass me by,” or “The economy is failing; how will I survive?” or “The client will know I’m new, and that I don’t know enough”? Just for now, ease down those burdens and instead pick up the sutra that binds you together in the practice of esthetics. There are no strangers in this esthetic sangha; each are recognized through the connected work of skin care.

Embrace your calling

The theologian William Barclay said, “There are two great days in our lives: the day we are born, and the day we discover why.” There is a profound sense that you are here for a purpose, and that sense resonates deeply within you: You are alive for a reason, and figuring out that reason is part of discovering your true vocation. According to author James Hillman, “Where our talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies our calling.” You may have asked yourself whether there is a job that you’re somehow meant to do? A work that is your calling?

Calling has been tied to four ideas: core values, beliefs, environment and character. Core values themselves contain elements of how you go about your work; they are observable, discernible and unchanged. An example of one company’s core values is: “Integrity first; Service before self; Excellence in all we do.” The company? The United States Air Force. When you wonder, “Why am I working in esthetics?” and “Why does it matter?” exploring your core values helps get you closer to the answers.