7/16/2008 4:39:34 PM
Ironically, this insight is contained in a book called You, Inc.. Its premise is that you must manage your individual “brand” as if you were a corporation selling something—your talent—to a potential buyer—an employer. While that metaphor is probably helpful for those who are actively looking for a new or better job, it is insufficient as a strategy for finding and, just as importantly, winning the job of their dreams. It will help you locate work, but it won’t ensure that the work you take is right or fulfilling for you.
As obvious as it may sound, you are not an organization, incorporated or otherwise. You are a person. And people don’t succeed the way corporate organizations do.
- Companies establish a mission, develop standard operating procedures to ensure they do things right for the accomplishment of that mission, and measure their success in financial terms. The more money they make, the more successful they are. The calculus is simple and straightforward.
- People can execute the same steps—they can operate as You, Inc.—and may also achieve financial success. However, as most of us realize at least at some level of consciousness, wealth is not an enduring or a deeply affective measure of human success. Human success comes not from doing things right, but from doing the right things. When we do the right things, we increase not only the paycheck but the satisfaction we bring home from work.
Now, the common formulation for this more human measure of success is “Follow your bliss.” Or, “find your passion.” Or, “do what you love and the money will follow.” It’s all wonderfully inspiring advice, but fails to answer the obvious question: Where do you start? How do you figure out exactly what is your bliss, your passion, what you love to do?
Look around and you’ll see that there are a number of different approaches to answering this question. They include:
One approach is to use assessment instruments and personality tests, ranging from the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory to Myers-Briggs. These tests can be very telling, but often require a trained professional to help you interpret the results. And even then, the findings may not be as insightful as you need because the trained professional must (and often doesn’t) know you well enough to apply the results to your specific life circumstances.
Hoping for the Best
This approach involves relying on luck or the serendipitous discovery of what you were meant to do with your life (or at least the one-third of it you spend at work) without much effort or forethought on your part. Sadly, there are legions of people who adopt this course, often unconsciously.
- They lurch from one kind of a job to another in a serial (and all too often fruitless) search for work that is meaningful and rewarding for them; or
- They rely on the well-meaning but often misguided advice of parents, friends, spouses or partners who have no idea what work will engage and fulfill them. In both cases, the implicit assumption is that lightening will strike and point them to the career of their dreams. Except in the rarest of circumstances, however, life doesn’t work that way so what actually happens is exactly the opposite; they fall into a career that neither interests nor satisfies them.
Acquiring Expert Assistance
In this approach, you turn to career counselors and coaches who are trained to help you explore the person inside you. Taking advantage of such a resource, however, requires that you get past a common misperception among American workers. Too many believe that career insights are a birthright and should be available to them for the asking. That’s simply not the case in the U.S. or anywhere else on the planet. Acquiring personal insight from an expert will frequently involve paying a fee, but doing so isn’t a violation of your rights. Instead, it is an investment—a financial commitment—you make in yourself and your future.
Embarking on Self-Exploration
Another approach is to conduct a conscious and methodical self interview. The premise of this approach is as simple as it is controversial. It’s simple because all it involves is the commitment of time and effort necessary to have a candid, personal conversation with yourself. It’s controversial for two reasons:
- First, when done right, such a conversation is far more frank and honest than most people have ever been with themselves.
- Second, self exploration is based on the notion that you already possess the answer you’re looking for. You already know the You of your dreams. In essence, this approach introduces you to yourself. That person is there inside you waiting to be acknowledged and accepted. There’s even a term for it, at least in the world of work; we know it as our “calling.” It’s that voice whispering inside you that describes your own true self.
Some of us are perfectly comfortable conducting such a self interview and are able to do so effectively. Others of us need a little help. That’s what career counselors and coaches can provide and that’s what you’ll find in my new book, Recognizing Richard Rabbit. (For more information on the book, please see below.) Either way, the outcome is the same: you uncover the secret of yourself.
Why bother? Because whether you’re a recent college graduate or a Baby Boomer, whether you have fifteen years of work experience or fifteen minutes, whether you’re looking to get better tips from your restaurant customers or better a solution to a difficult problem at work, the foundation for a meaningful and rewarding career is a deep understanding of the real you, the You of your dreams.
Thanks for reading,