Tag Archives: overcoming challenges

Are you in the right job?

There is a question that I ask everyone who reports to me at one time or another: If you could do anything in the world to make a living, no limitations or restrictions, you could be older, younger, live in the past, live in the future, what would you do?

Would it surprise you to know that fewer than 2% of the people I ask that question ever answer with the job they’re in?  To be fair I don’t know that I have yet answered that way either.  Let’s quadruple my experience though. Let’s guess that 8% of the people you know are in the job that is their perfect fit. Really?!? 8%? That’s horrible. How is it that so few people are really in a job that is what they’d think of as a perfect fit?

The job we land in is typically dictated by a significant number of factors: pay, location, schedule, opportunity for advancement, experiential fit, prestige. If we’re lucky a few of those factors come together and land near what we’d call our perfect job.

I think the trouble, for most of us, is that we never actually interrogate our answer to the question, if you could do anything what would you do? Why never actually ask ourselves why?

For years my answer to that question was that I would either play professional football or act. I played football all the way through college, even a season after college, loved it, miss playing, but I’m way too old now…even by Brett Favre standards. I’ve done some local acting around the edges. Loved it. But I have a family to support and there aren’t a ton of high paying acting gigs in Colorado Springs.

So I guess I’m stuck right? Wrong.

You see when I finally took the time to ask myself why I would pick one of those two professions, and did a little digging, I realized that what those two options had in common was what I call spectacle. They each are imbued  with opportunity to take people out of the course of daily routine and provide them with an emotional experience that is outside their norm.  I LOVE being able to create those moments for people.

For me the word “spectacle” encompasses what I want to be involved in creating. Now, here’s the interesting bit, the rest of that job stuff? Title, location, particular company, prestige etc. etc. all starts to take a back seat. Pay is still important because I have a wife and three kids after all, but as long as what I do has an element of spectacle to it I’m good to go!

So in order to figure out if YOU are in the right job you need to explore the answer to three questions:

  1. If you could do anything to make a living, no restrictions, (the age excuse on football falls out here), what would you do?
  2. What are the elements of your answer to #1 that most inspire you, in other words, why did you pick that?
  3. How much of your answer to #2 is present in your current job?

To be fair you may need someone to help you dig a bit. By way of example my little brother hated question #1, got tired of people asking him about his passion.  He just knew he wasn’t happy in his job and would rather be “doing adventures”.  But you can’t support a family just doing adventures so he’d given up.  Would it surprise you to learn that with some probing and digging we landed on corporate tax accounting as a potential career change? On the surface that seems CRAZY, but once we’d answered the “why” and found the elements he was after HE even agreed that it sounded cool.

Put titles and labels aside. Ask yourself the questions. Get someone to help you dig for the real “why” and you may surprise yourself with where you land.

Are you in the right job? Why do you think you just answered the way you did?


Four Characteristics of a Good Protest

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to try to get a handle on the madness occurring in and around Wall Street. I confess I am almost totally at a loss on this one. From what little I can tell by scanning various news sites and the protestors own site:

  • There are somewhere between 500 (conservative estimate) and 1200 (generous estimate) people involved. Fewer than attended my son’s high school homecoming game a couple weeks ago.
  • The number tends to be larger during the day. Apparently many of the protestors go home at night to get a good night’s sleep and catch up on some corporate sponsored sit-com.
  • They have no specific demands other than a seeming distaste for banks, large corporations, and anyone they deem to be in possession of too much money. “Too much” being defined loosely as “more than I have.”
  • They seem to want to align themselves tactically with what has gone on in the Arab world recently. You know, where they’ve been overthrowing oppressive militant regimes that have been in entrenched power for years?
  • The media love it…but seem to be growing a bit weary since they can’t find a good contiguous angle.

So in the interest of helping these angst filled souls disentangle themselves from their socialistic ennui allow me to suggest four characteristics that are the mark of a really good protest:

You ought to have a recognized villain

The French got this right when they did their revolutionary gig. Yes, yes they hated ALL the bourgeois but they REALLY hated Marie and Louie. A really good protest need a villainous face to point at and spit on and shake fists at. This idea of vaguely villainizing the corporations that built much of America and gave the protestors parents jobs, and contributed to their schools is ineffectual. Pictures of ‘corporations’ don’t work well on posters.

The villain really ought to have done something decidedly bad

You’d be hard pressed to call any of the recently displaced leaders in the Arab and north African world “good guys” and once they start firing on their own people it’s all over. While I agree that we have seen continuously mounting evidence of rampant corporate greed in the news lately the jury is still out on how they choose what is fit to show. After all Pine Creek’s homecoming had more people out than this protest and it got NO air time.  At the end of the day corporations provide jobs. You’d have to give a LOT of money to illegal immigrants and homeless people to put them in a positions to create jobs.

You really ought to have specific demands

When my kids were little we taught them that ranting, pouting, and grousing were not effective methods for getting what they want. As a result all three of them have turned out to be first class negotiators. (My bad on that one.) A ‘protest’ without specific demands or calls for specific action comes across rather like a flash-mobbed tantrum. Cool idea, but you really need more commitment to make it fly. Plus, with no call to specific action how do you know when the protest is over? How do you keep score?

You really ought to have a plan for change

A workable plan. At least the rudiments of a plan. “Redistribution of wealth” isn’t a plan unless you’re Robin Hood and working on a small village scale.

I can completely identify with the sens of disenfranchisement expressed by these protestors. I empathize even more with the fact that it is difficult to sort out who to vent their spleens towards when it all just feel oppressive, unfair, and constant. I applaud them for trying to keep their carnival non-violent.

But I’m afraid that shy of defining these four characteristics for their current shindig it’ll be tough to have any consistent, meaningful dialogue and without consistent meaningful dialogue I’m afraid we’ll all continue to flounder a bit.

Care for a slice of consistent meaningful dialogue? I’d love to hear your thoughts on these protests and their issues.

You’re going to try WHAT?

For the past four years I have contemplated attempting an Olympic distance triathlon: 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6 mile run. On August 20th, of THIS year, I going to give it a go. There is no way that I am really ready for it!

My training has been such that I can get through a sprint, have done so twice this summer, but stringing together three Olympic distance events seems truly daunting. Why? I swim a mile fairly regularly. In a pool. Completely different than open water. I have only ridden my bike 25 miles or more three times in the last three years. I have only run 6 or more miles in one go 4 or 5 times in my LIFE.

But I’m doing it. I’m doing it because I’m getting a little weary of my own excuses. I’m doing it because I like the challenge or the thought of it anyway. I’m doing it because I think I have come up with a plan for attacking something that I am not fully prepared to attack…and it has three simple parts:

Part One: Assess the Challenge

Jumping into something about which you have NO clue is foolish. I’ve done two sprint tri’s this summer and several in the past. I’ve put in a couple of 10K runs, did 32 miles on my bike the other day, and did an open water half mile swim a couple weeks back. This doesn’t mean I can do all three together but it does mean that none of the three should kill me. Having given each event a go on its own I believe I now have enough understanding as to how each one feels. Breaking the whole thing down into its components allows me to assess each piece individually. That assessment leads me believe I can finish the race.

Part Two: Mitigate the Risk

A triathlon is simply a swim, a bike ride, and a run which, if need be, can be turned into a swim, a cruise, and a stroll. The swim is the shortest bit, and the most overwhelming.

My first open water race experience was a nightmare when my heart rate elevated to the point where I was exhausted in the first 100M. I floated on my back, side-stroked, contemplated clinging on to the marker buoy, and floundered my way to a 13 minute 500M. A distance that should have taken my about 8 or 9 minutes.

My second race experience was a comedy: swimming into the tether between a blind athlete and their sighted guide (everyone was ok), treading water to encourage a guy who was having a race like my fist one had been, then my goggles broke and I had to swim the last 200M with my eyes closed. But it was a half mile swim and I finished it and I felt great.

The upcoming race is a mile swim BUT it is comprised of two half-mile loops. In between those loops is a quick jaunt, BACK ON SHORE!! Woo-hoo!! I’m pretty sure I can do the full mile in the water but by picking an event that affords this rare opportunity, something that is almost never done, I lessen the risk of bonking in the water, the only part of the race that holds risk.

Part Three: Establish the Goal

In thinking through my average swim times, bike speed, and slow run times, and counting time for transitions, I think it is entirely possible I COULD finish the race just under 3 hours. My goal is to do it under 3:15. I want to set a goal that feels attainable based on my assessment of the challenge, but one that is something better than “just finish” and still holds some room for “never done this before”.

One could easily argue that finishing would be good enough for a first go. But by setting something more aggressive I can’t get by with a cruise and a stroll. By making sure the goal isn’t TOO aggressive I have a decent chance at feeling a significant sense of accomplishment at the finish line which will serve to motivate me towards the next effort.

What challenges are looming out there for you? Are there some you’ve been putting off?  Can you assess the challenge, mitigate the risk, and establish the goal? Let me know how your “race” goes and I’ll get back to you with the results of mine.