During the past few weeks I started a new job doing strengths based organizational consulting full-time. I have been working in this industry for 14 years, but recently decided to pursue this passion and calling as my main job. Why? I want my strengths and passions to align as much as possible so that my work does not feel like work, rather a way of life, that I happened to get paid for. So how can this help you find the best job for you? Read on.
Over the past decade+ I worked for a great university and worked in admissions helping people decide if they should pursue a degree. In 2001 I started as an unpaid intern and within two years was a director. By the time I left I had been promoted six times and eventually had a team of over 30 people who were responsible for recruiting over 1,500 new students per year to our school. So much of that job aligned with my passion, helping people do what they are supposed to do, and my strengths, it was a great run.
Why did I leave?
Every few years I had a new opportunity and challenge to take on that kept me very interested in helping my organization and allowed me to grow as a leader and manager. During the past year it became very clear to me that senior leadership valued me, but had nowhere for me to go past the role I was in. Even if senior leadership told me they saw me “at the next level,” their actions spoke otherwise. So you know what I did? I did not wait until I was jaded and bored, I made a move into a new job that allowed me to never stop advancing. I am grateful for my time at that fantastic organization and I valued that place so much I never wanted to become someone who was so disengaged at work I started blaming my employer for where I was in my career.
This path started for me a few years ago when a CEO of a thriving consulting company had just asked me about the strengths based organizational consulting work I was doing. I told him what I do with organizations, and why I was passionate about the work. He looked right at me and asked me the question I will never forget: “Why don’t you do this work full time?” I am rarely at a loss for words, and I had nothing to say. Have you ever been in a situation where you had nothing to say? Wow, uncomfortable. Here I was, someone who helps people find their best fit, passion, etc and I had no good answer to the question I myself ask people about their life. The table of people who were with us were locked into this interchange between the CEO and I, and eventually I responded with something to the effect of, “I like doing it but…” But…. you know what? My job was safe. I worked for a big organization that had treated me well, it was safe. It was a good fit. I was there and there was no way I was going to leave that to become a solo entrepreneur.
You know who I just connected with this past month? That CEO. I told him he helped change my life and I thanked him for asking me a question that rocked my world. We are currently discussing how our companies might work together.
How did I get this new job?
Someone thought I would be great at it. What do I do? I help connect companies and individuals to the strengths based organizational consulting and coaching we do through Leadership Vision Consulting. That includes developing business and consulting. I co-founded this company 14 years ago with our President, Brian Schubring. Brian and I worked together for a number of years and then we both did our own thing and I started my own company to continue this work. Brian and I stayed connected over the years and in December of 2013 he asked me what it would take for me to come back full-time. A few months later I am there, full-time, doing work that I love.
A few thoughts:
1. Never burn bridges – I have learned this the hard way and work hard to never have this happen. Brian and I maintained a relationship to where someday he wanted me to work with him again. I am so grateful for his friendship.
2. If you are good at something, keep getting better at it, and people will notice.
The odds of this happening in our workforce in the United States are bad. Really bad. Only 1 in 3 employees reports that they are highly engaged at work. Engaged employees love their job, get a chance to do what they do best every day for the majority of their day. Is that you? 2 in 3 employees (according to a major study by the Gallup Organization on the state of the American workplace) either are disengaged or actively disengaged at work. 2 in 3 employees really don’t like their job. This is terrible! Firsthand I know these stats are accurate from my time as a manager.
Why does this happen? People do not know what they should do with their lives. Organizations hire for skills and experience but rarely for talent. You can have all the right skills and experience but if you talent is not there, you will eventually be among the 2 in 3 employees who do not love their job, and are not highly productive.
So, how can find the best job for you?
1. Understand your natural talents, what are you good at? You can do this through a variety of tests, but I highly recommend taking the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment tool. You can access the test by buying the bestselling book by Tom Rath, StrengthsFinder 2.0 Take the test, find out your strengths and begin to ask yourself what jobs might fit your strengths – where will you get a chance to do what you do best every day for the majority of the day?
2. Get a coach – find someone who can help you navigate this process and ask you tough questions. I know lots of good options, let me know if I can help steer you in a direction of a great coach.
3. If you can’t quit your day job, start doing what you think you might love on the side, as a volunteer or intern for another organization. Test some things out and see if you are good at them.
4. Notice areas in your life where time flies by. That is a quick clue that you are doing something that is aligning with your talents and passions. If you are in places where time goes slow constantly? You are probably in a bad fit for your unique wiring.
I want you to find the best job for you because once you do, you will never look back. You will also be more successful and happy. You know what can happen? Your health will improve (see Eat, Move, Sleep by Tom Rath). Life is too short to slog away at something you are neutral on, or that you hate.
For those of you who love what you do – how did you get into that job? I would love to hear your process.
For those of you who are struggling – what questions do you have? How can I help you?