Broadly speaking, we all want the same thing: a great job doing what we love to do, while being recognized and rewarded for it. So, if we all want it, why is it so elusive? Why do most of us find career success at times, but often feel we have to make trade-offs, even give up some of what we want and love, in order to survive and get ahead in our organization? Why do we feel we have to leave our organization, as if we are trapped? It points to a pervasive sense of career unrest that is largely the result of two consistent facts:
The companies and organizations we work in are not in the business of considering and aligning with our passions. Instead, they often separate us from what we love and even need, causing us to conform to what people in the organization want from us. This happens subtly. When we’re in an organization, as in any social situation, our inherent response is to do what is necessary to fit in and get along with others, especially those in authority. In doing so, we often give up what we love and need, and become a slave to this impersonal thing called “the company”.
Much of the widely accepted career advice is false and even toxic. By following the conventional career wisdom and precepts, people are actually ensuring they won’t achieve sustained career fulfillment and success. In the context of history, modern organizations are relatively new – you are probably no more than three generations removed from ancestors who either worked on a farm or made their living in a smaller family owned business. Perhaps because of this, we are still in the corporate dark ages, collectively struggling to understand how organizations really work and how more people can find success and fulfillment within them.
Given these two facts, it shouldn’t be surprising that the people who we coach who do achieve sustained career success are unique in their commitment to being themselves. They are less concerned with what people in the organization think of them, and they may defy conventional wisdom at times as they follow their hunch or “heart”. They operate with a sense of freedom. They understand it is important to build influence and navigate the organization, but their main motive is doing what they love and not simply pining for the approval of their boss.
In considering your own work and career, do you know what you love to do? Do you spend much of your day and week working on tasks you find fulfilling, or do you feel your job is comprised of an arduous set of tasks that others, or the “company”, think are important? Your answer to these questions will impact not only your career, but also your health and wellness in every other aspect of your life.
So, in building your career, don’t let the company derail you from doing what you love. Also, question the career advice you receive from others. In future blogs we will address this toxic advice by outlining the pervasive career myths and truths surfaced in our research.
Career Success Indicator
Take 8 minutes and complete this online self assessment to uncover your current state of career fulfillment. Go to the Career Success Indicator.
What They're Saying
The authors have a wonderful message: Stop looking for those greener pastures; they may be astroturf! Look insider first. A very important message for the impending talent war.
Beverly L. Kaye
CEO/Founder, Career Systems International; author, Love It Don't Leave It, Love 'Em or Lose 'Em, and Up Is Not the Only Way.