3 Tips: to Career Success.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
There are a number of reasons that we find ourselves in jobs/careers we do not really enjoy:
- parental pressure
- peer pressure
- attaining the marks to get in to a College/University course such as Law, Medicine, etc.
- poor planning
Regrettably many people find themselves in a role that facilitates the right socio-status, only to feel terribly dissatisfied within themselves and the joy they get from their careers.
I deal with a number of law firms. I often hear that younger lawyers, who are struggling either to perform or to fit, seem to only want to look for other legal jobs in other peer and above big name law firms. Instead they would be better served and happier working in a smaller legal firm; or (heaven forbid) even outside the law.
What holds them back are many of the reasons pointed out above.
If this applies to you, then here are a few pathways I have found that have helped a number of Coaching Clients gain more satisfaction and clarity.
1. What are your strengths?
Buckingham and Clifton of Gallup fame have built a great reputation around encouraging people to know their strengths and work within those areas.
Whilst it seems intuitive, many of us have been taught to improve our weakness areas, (eg SWOT analysis) rather than focus on what makes us unique or special through capitalising on our strengths.
I remember attending a meaningful session at the annual conference of The Leadership Circle (TLC) – just 6 weeks after the Fukushima Earthquake/Tsunami disaster in 2011. These gentle, dignified presenters from TLC in Japan suggested that we look for our ‘kokorozashi’ – Japanese for ‘your something special.’ In simple terms, they explained it was what we would hand to our children; how could we make the world better.
In Kabbalistic terms, it is similarly and elegantly addressed by the Hebrew term Tikkun Olam: repairing the world.
You cannot repair the world or act from your something special, if it is from your weakness. You can only do so when you come from your strengths.
2. What are your values?
I like the work of John De Martini and Steve Pavlina in the values area.
Both succinctly point that we do whatever we place value on. If we choose to exercise, it’s because we value that. If we choose to write, we value that. But if we do not do something, although we know it might benefit us, we are really saying we do not value doing or having that thing.
Our work-life values are somewhat similar. If we know our values, then these are effective filters in which to see the world and to also find what is consistent when evaluating career opportunities and organisational culture.
A simple example here: if you value independent thinking but are in a culture where roles are boxed/confined and you are shunned from independent thinking, then you are unsurprisingly likely to feel frustrated and disengaged. There is a values clash. To push the point home, a person working at Atlassian does not fit in working in a clerical job in Government.
3. When were you at your happiest?
This short six word open-ended question is deceptively powerful.
I helped to delve into the heart and mind of a capable CMO in a recent coaching session.
She presented to our coaching session feeling despondent and directionless.
In the last several years, she found herself in several roles where she had missed our on promotion or performance.
In deeply delving back into her past, our session revealed that she was most happy when she was dealing in a different role altogether, where she interfaced and dealt with people on a daily basis, seeking to develop creative solutions within and outside her employer.
She loved being in the centre of things, pulling the strings. She had moved on from a role like that many years before. Yet, from our session it was clear she really hankered to return to that.
Openly declare to your prospective employer that you are relaunching your career and have come to the realisation that you are truly powerful, at your best and at your happiest when you are in that type of role.
We all yearn to return to happier times. When it comes to work, (especially in more advanced economies) we can do so by starting our own businesses, joining another employer or moving in to another role within our existing employer.
If you find yourself in this situation, I counsel people openly declare to your prospective employer that you are relaunching your career and have come to the realisation that you are truly powerful, at your best and at your happiest when you are in that type of role.
Author Mike Dooley says to “do all you can, with all you have, from where you are.”
Back to the CMO, my advice was to re-establish herself in the role she wanted, even if it were a step or two backwards, and then do her darnedest to be the best she could be. By doing so she would likely get the promotion she wanted in a year or so, within her next employer or be headhunted to where that could happen.
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