Restart

It would please me greatly to report that the last few months have been invested in a deep spiritual quest that culminated in great gains of wisdom, vision, and discipline that I am now prepared to impart to you. That would certainly sound more noble than sitting in front of the TV eating Doritos and watching old episodes of Criminal Minds, pondering ideas that would make great blog posts if only I had a little more motivation to write them. One of the bad things about taking a sabbatical from blogging is that you feel compelled to offer something really profound when you return, as if a brief moment of premeditated profundity somehow justifies a lingering absence from the blogosphere.

 

Well, it ain’t gonna happen. In the absence of anything profound, I decided to just write a post that incorporates the word “profundity” a few times – it certainly sounds intelligent and it lends an air of gentle sophistication that could easily be mistaken for… profundity. It’s a brilliant and sensible technique, given that its effectiveness has been proved by none other than a presidential candidate.

 

I was previously too focused on readership and stats, trying diligently to tailor my posts around a loosely-crafted theme, and avoiding topics that departed from that theme. I say “loosely-crafted” because I’m not sure I could ever clearly define that theme. And rather than writing from the heart, I began looking for topics that fit a brand I was trying to develop for myself. The passion eventually evaporated. So going forward, I’m going to try to just write more from the heart and be less concerned with the frequency, the theme, or even… (ahem) the profundity of posts.

 

Now, if I could just remember my WordPress login…

Quote: Our Constitution

John Adams was born 272 years ago today. He was one of the founding fathers of our nation, a member of the Continental Congress, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the first U.S. Ambassador to a foreign country (The Netherlands), the first U.S. Ambassador to England, the first vice-president and the second president of the United States.

Adams was the primary author of the Massachusetts Constitution, which was the first to feature a bicameral (two houses) legislature, and which later served a model for the U.S. and many other state constitutions. Thus Adams uniquely understood the fragile relationship that existed between the Constitution and the citizens when he said:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.

John Adams (b. 10/30/1735 – d. 7/4/1826)

Our government is adequate only to the extent that the citizens are willing to govern themselves. This principle, I think, can also be applied to any organization, team, or business. The strength of the organization depends on the integrity of its members, and their commitment to maintain the organization. No organizational structure can withstand unbridled avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry.

Finding your passion

In her Shifting Careers blog this week, Marci Alboher shares an interesting self-assessment exercise. It is designed by career coach Michael Melcher (aka The Creative Lawyer) for people who are searching for passion in their careers.

According to Melcher, many of his clients don’t know what they want to do with their careers; they may have multiple interests and don’t know how to choose among them. They may have done so much self-analysis that they can “speak very fluently about the issues but find it difficult to make actual decisions.”

One way to get unstuck is to use a Zagat-style approach. Melcher suggests that you interview five to ten people who know you well, using a structured questionnaire. The questionnaire approach is important because it will probably yield more thoughtful responses, and thus useful data, than a casual conversation with the same people. Some recommended questions for your interviews:

  • What are three things I do really well?
  • What are three things I don’t do so well?
  • Based on what you know about me, what job or experience have I liked the best in the past?
  • Based on what you know about me, what job or experience have I liked the least?
  • What are three things you can imagine me doing?
  • What’s something you can’t really imagine me doing?
  • How do I get in my own way?

A Caveat

While this is a great way to solicit feedback from your circle (I am a big advocate of 360 assessments an other feedback mechanisms), I’d like to offer one caveat: Do not let feedback from your circle serve as a substitute for doing reasonable self-analysis. Self-analysis can be daunting and uncomfortable for some, while others tend to wallow in so much self-analysis that they can’t get unstuck. Despite its potential pitfalls, however, self-analysis is critical to discovering your passion.

Because people are often conditioned to behave contrary to their true nature, feedback from others may simply reinforce the negative conditioning if you haven’t first done the proper self-analysis.

Quote: Finding purpose

In her book Keeping the Faith (reviewed previously in this blog), Ana Mollindo Mims begins with what amounts to a personal manifesto. She says, in part

“I believe in destiny.”

“I believe each of us has a path that points us toward that destiny.”

“I believe that I am here for a purpose, not because of some random occurrence or decision by my parents.”

“I believe events in my life happen for a reason, not by accident.”

And my favorite:

“I believe that we have free will, and when we cede that free will to God’s purpose and plan, in life and in business, we will find ourselves on a journey that will fulfill and elate us, by no one’s standards but His own.”

True fulfillment in life comes by discovering and yielding your passion to the One who gave you that passion. What were you created to do?

7 principles to work by

My reading list has historically been second-hand, meaning that I tend to build my list based on recommendations from others. Rarely do I snoop around the shelves and tables of the bookstore looking for the hidden gems that others may have overlooked. I’ve always had a never-ending supply of recommended reading (college professors are good for that), combined with a short supply of time and patience for shopping, so the second-hand method works well for me.

It’s unusual, then, that I would impulsively pick up a book to read, but this particular book recently caught my attention: Keeping the Faith, by Ana Mollinedo Mims. The book is Ana’s very narrative and personal story about how she incorporates her faith into her personal career, and the impact that has had on finding meaning and success in her professional life.

In the book, she describes the seven principles of her faith-based philosophy:

  1. Faith – How to bring meaning to our work and infuse what we do with purpose.
  2. Prayerfulness – How to pause and take stock of any and all situations, centering our thoughts and bettering everything we set forth to accomplish.
  3. Humility – How infusing this in all things can bring about the most prosperity.
  4. Integrity – Why goodness and quality serve us long after a job is done.
  5. Forgiveness – Why adopting forgiveness does and will lead to greater meaning.
  6. Stewardship – How leading opens our options for all things.
  7. Legacy – Why we must all care about the work we do, and how a job is never really finished.

What I liked about this book

First, I appreciate the spiritual perspective of this book. I have always believed that our faith should be reflected in our work, and that our work is a natural extension of who God created us to be. We find meaning in work and life by discovering what we were created to do. This book supports that philosophy.

Second, the book is a very comfortable read, and very inspiring. Her personal stories as well as the stories she tells of others lends believability to her ideas. In other words, you don’t get the idea that this is pie-in-the sky wishful thinking, but a pratical philosophy that anyone can embrace.

What I didn’t like about the book

In a word — the title. The theme of the book seems to be about finding success by incorporating faith into your work and career. I think the words “Work” or “Career” or even “Purpose” should figure prominently in the title. Granted, the subtitle is “How Applying Spiritual Purpose to Your Work Can Lead to Extraordinary Success, but that’s not prominent enough to capture most readers.

Conclusion

The book was not what I expected when I picked it up, but I was pleasantly surprised. One of the reasons I wrote this review is that I think many people will disregard the book because of the title, and miss out on an enjoyable and inspiring read. If you are wondering how to integrate your faith and career, you will enjoy this book.

And it may help you answer the question, What were you created to do?

Advice for older job seekers

Thanks to YourHRGuy for drawing my attention to this article in Forbes Magazine. It offers three rules for older (40 plus) job seekers:

  • Rule #1: Job seekers over 40 need a resume that looks forward, not backward.
  • Rule #2: Don’t be defensive, and don’t omit dates.
  • Rule #3: Don’t be afraid to sell yourself.

The writer suggests that younger job seekers need to emphasize work experience, but older job seekers need to change the perpective from “Look at everything I’ve done” to “Look at what I can do for you.” In other words, the resume becomes less about the candidate and more about the employer.

The author writes,

“Beware of writing a résumé that generates awe but not interviews. Your résumé should persuade a potential employer to grant you an interview, not your old employer to give you a gold watch.”

Older job seekers often have a hard time selling themselves for two keys reasons:

First, older workers tend to think that selling themselves is tantamount to bragging about their past accomplishments, and they consider bragging to be in bad form (rightfully so). Self-marketing, however, is not as much about past accomplishments as it is about future potential. True, there is a correlation between past accomplishments and future potential, but self-marketing should emphasize what you can do for someone else. Past accomplishments are merely the supporting evidence.

Second, many workers do not know what their real strengths, gifts, and passions are. For many years, they have defined themselved by their job description rather than their strengths and interests. Employers are less interested in your previous titles and job descriptions. They want to know that you have the skills and passion to do the job.

If your job serach has you looking to the past, you need to shift your thinking to the future. I believe that everyone has a unique purpose in life.

What were you created to do?

Note to butchers: don’t hire vegetarians

Thanks to the Be Excellent blog for pointing me to this article in Entrepreneur Magazine. In the article, Robert Kiyosaki stresses that businesses need to hire people with a passion for their mission.

Hiring the right people — the people with the right passion — is one of the toughest jobs for any business. But maybe not the toughest. The toughest job may be getting rid of the wrong people. Hiring for skills will get an organization only so far. Hiring for passion will help the organization excel.

Kiyosaki says his rich dad told him

“Hire people who are mission-driven — people who share your vision. If you don’t, your business will struggle, or may never even get off the ground.”

In other words… if you own a butcher shop, don’t hire vegetarians.

Implication for Job Seekers

Why is it so challenging for businesses to hire for passion? One reason, I suspect, is that many job applicants don’t know or cannot convey their passion.

If you don’t know what your passion is, how will your employer — or potential employer — ever know? You need to know what you are passionate about, and be able to effectively express your passion. If you don’t know what your passion is, there are many tools to help you. One such tool I just came across recently is a new book by Dan Miller entitled 48 Days to the Work You Love.

You should also consider finding a coach who can help you discover your strengths and passions.

What were you created to do?

 

His purpose

crown2b.jpg

One thing

What “one thing” are you focusing on? Or are you being distracted by all the clutter in your life? Toby has a post this week about finding your passion. It’s worth reading.

One way to eliminate clutter in your life and stay focused is to have a trusted coach. We are often oblivious to our own clutter, so it’s helpful to have someone who can gently point it out and help us get rid of it.

Career success

Greatness2

What defines a “successful” career?

  • Money?
  • Power?
  • Prestige?
  • Popularity?

Too often we define success by looking in the review mirror. We look at our accomplishments to see how our peers and employers value our contribution — measured by our salary, position, or influence. In other words, we let the market be our measure of success or greatness.

Seth Godin talks about this phenomenon as it relates to a work of art, or a song. If the picture sells for a lot of money, or if the musician becomes really famous, our society tends to assume that there must be some inherent quality that makes it great. He says

“After all, what makes a great work of art should have nothing at all to do with how much it sells for and everything to do with how it makes you feel. I think the game here is in the definition of ‘great.’ And what society has chosen…is that ‘great’ means successful. Not the other way around.”

We tend to do the same thing with our careers. We spend too much energy focusing on how to be “great” instead of how to be “successful.” We find success by using our gifts, talents, and passion to help or serve others. We find success by discovering and doing what we are created to do.

What are you created to do?

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