I really believe in what John Miller, author of QBQ! the Question Behind the Question, calls the “believe or leave” philosophy. If we aren’t engaged and committed to what we’re doing it’s time for a change. Perhaps it involves a change in an approach to a job or career. In more extreme cases it means doing something else altogether. However it is critical to be honest about how much the job and not something else is driving discontent; as the adage goes, “wherever you go you’re still there.”
So here is a framework to make a job believe or leave assessment.
Psychiatrist Edward Hallowell in a great Harvard Business Review article provides some thoughtful guidelines. His view is we should spend most of our career/job time intersecting in three spheres:
What we LIKE to do best.
What we do best.
What adds value to the organization.
There is much research that shows the relationship between job fit and personal contentment. To help us take a deeper dive on this Hallowell provides a self assessment set of questions. Examples include:
What were you doing when you were the happiest in your work life?
What sort of organization culture brings out the best in you?
Please give yourself some reflective time on this. But whatever you do please don’t sit in the middle of a misery puddle. Believe, by liking what you do and adding value with purpose, or Leave and contribute elsewhere.
Over the years I have spent considerable time thinking about and working on my life’s purpose. I once spent a week away on a personal excellence program, deep in the Oregon woods, on sort of a personal “anthropological dig” with the aim of better defining my life’s purpose. My work on the Character Triangle had its genesis there. The essence of spending time on one’s purpose is built around the belief that each of us will achieve a greater sense of fulfillment if we can define our life’s mission and build on our core strengths and attributes. This goes beyond “form” ( i.e. what type of job/career we have …e.g. engineer) or “outcome” ( i.e. end result …e.g. make a lot of money). Developing a life’s purpose is a deeper and more motivating concept. Ideally it is the basis for the action we take daily and in total summarizes our reason for being. My formal purpose statement has a spiritual, physical, and personal relationship dimension to it that I won’t go into here. But my work purpose is to make a meaningful and lasting contribution by adding enormous value to others as a leader, teacher, and coach. I have been in many different roles and companies, but my personal work mission remains my anchor regardless of changing circumstances. In my current role I want to achieve all the success that is measured by financial means but this is not what drives me and gets me up in the morning.
I realize that many of us feel fortunate in this current economic environment just to have a job. And all of us have a variety of personal ups and downs that can make the idea of a purpose statement seem almost trivial. It could even feel like an academic exercise to spend time on this. But my view is that investing in this is a very worthwhile and practical personal activity. Most of us don’t have the luxury of going into the woods to self reflect. But there is merit in having this intimate conversation with yourself over a cup of coffee or during a quiet walk. If you want a kick start, I suggest you get involved in an exercise called ”What’s Your Sentence: The Movie.”
Many of you who read my blog know that I’m a fan of Dan Pink. And readers of his book Drive may remember the “What’s Your Sentence?” exercise from page 154. Dan has a 2-minute video (below) to get up to speed if you need a refresher. The exercise asks you to distill your life — what it’s about, why you’re here — into a single sentence. It’s tough, but it’s powerful. I encourage you to participate.
The Character Triangle is a value and habit system and when you apply it to your life’s purpose it becomes exponential in its value to each of us and all the people we interact with. Please invest in yourself on this. You’re worth it.
“I was blessed with hemophilia and hemophilia blessed me.”
That was the motto of my friend Ken Poyser, whose life and death was celebrated at his funeral on September 18. Ken had the worst and rarest form of this difficult disease and against huge odds lived until 65. Before Hemophilia and its complications finally outran Kenny, he received the Order of Canada, led Hemophilia initiatives world wide, and literally was the genesis of saving thousands of lives and raising millions of dollars for Hemophilia research clinics and the like. In his wheel chair, and as a husband, father, and grandfather, he traveled 50 countries serving those affected by Hemophilia. At the same time he became a Chartered Accountant at 24 (after missing months of school due to his countless hospitalizations). And as a self made businessman, he retired at 41. The list of his accomplishments goes on and on.
What makes people like Kenny not just give up? Perhaps more importantly what propels them to greatness in spite of countless hurdles? Here are a few observations:
Self Accountability. They accept their situation, refuse to be victims, and are driven to contribute. Abundance. They focus and make the best of what they have versus the lack of what they don’t have. They give and give more. Respect. They have an appreciation of the people and things around them and for what they have. They embrace people for who they are. Purpose. They seem to have a defined cause and purpose at both a physical and spiritual level.
People like Ken Poyser, who rise above the highest of hurdles, are jaw-dropping inspirations for me. They Live the Triangle to the fullest. They make me want to jump out of bed and to make a difference to others. People like Ken don’t waste time wondering or wishing for something different. They live and die to give. Thank you Ken!
The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ... Read more about Lorne Rubis
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Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.
What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?
The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:
Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame. Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process. Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.