Post by Yvonne DiVita, BlogPaws CEO
Last week I published a post on the BlogPaws blog about working from home. The gist of it was, “create your own job” – in other words, stop doing what other people tell you to do and do what you want to do.
The problem with that advice is this: not all of us know how to create our dream job. We’re born with an innate ability to buck the system, but that’s drummed out of us by kindergarten. We’re taught to sit in place, color in the lines, respect authority (anyone taller or older is usually the ‘authority’), and stop whining about whatever it is we don’t like about the world. Sigh.
Last night Tom and I watch Scorpion, the new show about a small team of geniuses who are hired by the government to save the U.S. from… stuff. Bad stuff. The kind of stuff CNN reports on every day. I won’t get into my feelings about the show, but I will share this – Walter, the “head” genius, is my kinda guy. He doesn’t tow the line. He believes so deeply in his abilities, he plows ahead and does what needs doing, even if his “handler”, an FBI man, tells him not to.
Of course, the team is routinely put in situations that test their abilities as people – not as smart people, just as people. They don’t have the same emotions we do. They don’t react to experiences as we do. They tend to internalize and react with a solution, one they’re sure is going to work, regardless of extenuating circumstances (like, other people mucking things up, as they often do). In the end, of course, they prevail. They do what they do best and on the show, they win. They save the day. And yes, they strut around like peacocks when it’s over. Oh yes, intelligence does not negate hubris.
The team Scorpion wants what all of us want: they want to make a difference; they want to do things their way; they want to get paid to do things their way; and they want the respect that comes with accomplishment. It’s little enough to aspire to. Isn’t it?
How do they get all of that? They don’t get it by sitting around talking. They don’t get it by letting naysayers tell them they don’t get it – often a correct statement if referring to the underlying people skills many of them lack. And they don’t get it by playing by the rules.
So, what am I saying here? Am I saying you have to stop playing by the rules? Stop letting other people dictate what you do and how you do it? Stop planning and preparing and learning and studying…and maybe start… doing? Yes. And no. Some rules, like… being on time for a meeting and waiting your turn to talk, stand. Don’t break those rules. But, learn which ones you can bend and which you can break.
One of my favorite authors is Lee Thayer, a man I worked with when I used to publish books. Lee Thayer wrote a leadership book called, Thinking, Being, Doing. Yes, my company published it. I worked on it with him, as his editor and coach. This is a prime leadership book well worth your time, if you aspire to a leadership position – in the corporation you currently “work” or in your own business.
A prime lesson Thayer shares early on in the book is this:
Take your eye off the bottom line.
What does that mean? He explains, “…taking your eye off the bottom line (except as you might use a thermometer) sets you free to put your eye on what drives the bottom line. Things like towering competence. Like intensity and zeal. Like preparedness for whatever happens (or doesn’t). Like reserve energy and acumen. Like the kind of intelligence that matters. Like being committed to a level of performance that forever pulls the bottom line along in its irresistible wake. Like focus, or the right strategy, or the right organizational design. Like “smart” systems that underwrite exceptional performance. Like practice.”
Now, let’s delve into that paragraph and I’ll show you how you can create the dream job you aspire to have as your career.
The bottom line is important. It pays the bills. But, constant review of that, constant focus on that, takes you away from the talent and expertise you should be using to affect the bottom line. YOU are, in essence, the bottom line. Not your paycheck. Not your bank account. Not your blog.
Thayer talks of “towering competence.” Wow, what does that mean? It means, you know yourself and will work accordingly. It means tapping into the skills you have the other people will pay for. It means taking your abilities and making them bigger, stronger, more powerful… in the show, Scorpion, the geniuses each have certain abilities. They each use their talents accordingly. Their towering competence is in knowing their strengths and weaknesses and operating from the core of that acceptance.
Next, Thayer uses words like intensity, zeal, preparedness… all of these are important to creating your dream job/career. You must be intense. If you do not feel an intense desire to achieve using your talents and skills, you will not succeed. You will limp along. You must have zeal… without it you will be lackluster. No one hires lackluster consultants. And you must prepare… this is critical. You must KNOW what needs doing and you must be PREPARED to do it. How do you “know”… you study and listen and test. Over and over and over.
In the end, creating your dream job/career isn’t for sissies. It isn’t for a short term goal. It isn’t for anyone who thinks working for yourself is easy. That “level of performance that forever pulls the bottom line along in its irresistible wake” is the key, here. Performance is the actual work you will do. What is it? How does it fit in the career path you’ve chosen? Do you have “smart systems” in place? Not sure what those are? Think: tools that help you achieve – not toys you like to play with.
When the team at Scorpion decided to take the offer from their FBI handler (I call him that but he’s more their “boss” than their handler except they are still independent in the show and they can take other offers), they didn’t accept any of the limitations inherent in his “job” offer. They remain committed to something bigger than themselves (a favorite Thayer term, by the way), and the zeal they bring to their work is apparent in the excitement you see on their faces as they race to accomplish some task only they can do. The show also added a ‘regular’ person in the character of a waitress who now works with the team, and who brings the rest of us with her – those of us who are just regular people, not geniuses. SHE represents the smart system in place – and she is there to help the team learn how to communicate with and work with the rest of the world. Because, in the greater scheme of things, you do have to deal with the ‘rest’ of the world, too.
- You must not be a slave to the bottom line.
- You must know your skills, always be in learning mode so you can continue to enhance your skills, and you must use those skills to drive the bottom line, not vice-versa.
- You must prepare. Suggestion: find a mentor.
- You must be prepared for high performance. If that means long hours at the start, so be it. If it means shelling out $$ you think you don’t have to build stronger skills, so be it. If you don’t invest in yourself now… when will you? When you are past the ability to perform?
- You must employ smart systems. That means understanding the tools needed to accomplish your goals. Sometimes, tools have two legs and a brain. Not all tools are inanimate.
- You must test. Test your abilities. Test your knowledge. Test yourself, again and again.
Each of us is independent of the other. That’s why I did not make this a blueprint of 5 steps to creating your dream job. My five steps may be different than yours. They may be the same, but in different sequence. The blueprint for YOUR dream job is in YOUR hands, not mine.
In Leadership: Thinking, Being, Doing, Thayer offers this bit of advice, “It isn’t until one’s work is a vital and central part of one’s life that a person has a twenty-four hour quality of life.”
If you start your journey to fulfillment in 2015 with some insight garnered from this post, I have achieved my purpose today. Helping you is a vital part of my existence.