How do you know when it's time to leave?
When you were hired because of who you are and you're now being asked to be someone you're not.
If this happens, it's time to go.
And, by the way, I'm not talking ethics here. I'm not talking about your work asking you to cook the numbers or hide injustice. I'm talking about the more innocuous yet dangerous situation where your employer hired you to be a cook because that's what you love but now they need you to wait tables with no end in sight.
Is it a bad thing to wait tables a little bit to help the company through a tough patch? Not necessarily. But beware of the bait-and-switch, like my buddy who got hired at a sports store to work in the hunting department because of his passion for hunting but found himself one day on the loading dock, unloading boxes of product. When he asked when he could go back to hunting the response was, "You're right where we need you for now."
P.S. He now sells guns online for a living and loves it. There's always something better if you'll keep your head up and look for it.
Eight years ago I was driving home from a UNLV student retreat with a suburban full of students and my graduate assistant, Alfonso. We were on a high from a great weekend and talking about the future when Alfonso asked me a life-changing question:
"Where do you see yourself in 10 years?"
I thought about it and said something like, "Hopefully I'll be speaking and coaching and getting paid to do it."
He pressed me. "But what will it actually look like when you're doing it?"
I thought about that for some time before speaking up and sharing this vision:
"I see myself in a cabin in the mountains somewhere, speaking to a captivated audience. I'm in a turtleneck, leaning against the fireplace, and sipping a cup of cocoa. They're all there because they're trying to figure out what to do with their lives and I'm helping them do it."
Don't ask about the turtle neck. I don't even own one. It just fit with the scene, alright?
Point is, that vision was more than a trite conversation. I've clung to it. In fact, with every decision I've made in my career since that day I've asked myself, "Is this getting me closer to or further from the cabin?"
I'm happy to say I'm closer than ever to the cabin scene (still don't own a turtleneck), because a clear, vivid vision has a tendency to pull us through challenge and difficulty.
So where are you headed? What will it actually look like when you're there? Take a snapshot of the future and describe it, then head toward it with everything you've got.
Visions have a way of manifesting.
In my book, RESET, I talk about the circumstances that led me to curl up in the fetal position and cry to my pregnant wife. Some who’ve read the anecdote misunderstand the point.
“Dude, why didn’t you just buck up and get a job?” they say.
It was never about the job. The crying wasn’t about public relations. It was about the disconnect I felt between who I was and what I was doing.
And, actually, it was even more than that. It came from knowing that I had gifts and talents but didn’t know what they were. It was about lacking self-awareness and, therefore, being unable to live as intentionally as I otherwise could if I knew who I was.
In one post awhile back, I shared that having talents and not knowing what they are is like heading off to sea without ever stopping to look at the ship you’re on. Taking on the ocean in an inflatable raft is a very different experience than doing so in a cruise ship.
The tears and emotion came from the incongruence and the helplessness that I felt. It came from feeling like I was doomed to be normal.
The reality is that none of us is normal. We were created to be different. Each of us has unique gifts and talents, the combination of which adds tremendous value to the world.
We lose – and so does everyone around us – when we don’t identify and maximize those gifts, but instead cram ourselves into a perception of who we’re supposed to be. When we fit the mold, we’ve lost our power to affect change.
Being a generalist is scary. Specialization is where it’s at.
Several weeks ago I guest-lectured for a college career class about how to figure out what to do with your life. I hit 'em with the best stuff I have -- beware the outside/in model, develop your Profile of Self, and fight the fears that get in the way of success.
Toward the end, a student who had a particularly skeptical look on her face and who had been fighting some internal voice during the whole session finally raised her hand.
"But what if what I love to do doesn't pay."
Great question. I'm so glad she asked, because I guarantee each of you have thought this at least once, as has every other career-searcher in the world.
I returned volley with this:
"Who's the best florist on planet earth?"
Any idea? Me neither. Until I looked it up. Google it. Some guy named Gregor, who is the Master of all Master Florists -- essentially the Picasso of flowers. This guy has won awards for flowers internationally, has written 30 books, and speaks six languages.
And I guarantee he's not making $30k a year.
A florist, for heaven's sake. Killing it in the world of flowers.
Here's the best part: you can do this with any industry. Trash collectors, plumbers, artists, writers, mechanics, etc. Someone has to be the best. Every industry has someone at the top.
And what makes them the best at what they do is that they love it. There is always room at the top for those who love what they do.
It started with passion. It started with a drive to do it because they were intrinsically motivated by the craft, whatever that was.
So don't give me this "what if I can't make money doing it" thing. Start with passion, add in some consistent hard work, earned credibility, networking, education and training, and do it all over a consistent period of time and you will make money doing it.
Sidenote: Usually when people ask that question, what they're really saying is "what if I can't make money immediately doing that" or "what if I don't have the patience to stick it out long enough to make money?" Answer: you probably weren't that passionate about it in the first place.
Hi! I'm Dustin.
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