At any moment of any day you are doing one of two things — either increasing your energy or draining it. There is no in between. All activities do one or the other.
One reason people lose hope and hate their jobs is because they are making more withdraws than deposits. In the financial world, that’s called “overdraft” which leads to fees, despair, and eventually bankruptcy.
Here’s the thing: you control your deposits and withdraws.
Now, this isn’t true all the time. Sometimes you find yourself in a line of work where someone else tells you what to do, when, and where. But for most of us, we have just enough flexibility in our jobs to control what we do and in what order we do it.
That's where deposits come in.
What makes the difference between a deposit and a withdraw?
When you utilize your strengths you release energy, satisfaction, and happiness into your world which results in a deposit. When you work in your weakness, you drain your energy, resulting in less productivity and output and low morale.
It's important here to stop and clarify that a weakness is not something you're bad it. Rather, it's something you could be good at but that does not give you energy. By the way, many of us work jobs where we're paid to do things we're good at but hate doing.
The goal is to target strengths. And, the challenge is, most people don't know what their strengths are. I'm not talking StrengthsFinder 2.0 words...I'm talking your actual, articulated strengths, rooted in natural talent and ability.
To this end, we're launching a workshop on Friday, December 9th from 8:30am-12pm to help people discover what they do best and do more of it. More information can be found below:
Lead with Your Strengths Workshop (click here)
This would be a great professional development opportunity to discover your talents and connect with other like-minded leaders doing the very same thing.
If you can't make it to the workshop, there's still hope. It starts with tracking your energy and identifying the activities that fill your bucket and those that drain your soul. Do more of the former and less of the latter and you'll be well on your way.
Lastly, be careful not to characterize a whole activity as a deposit or withdraw. Lesson planning, for example, is not inherently a withdraw. The way you go about lesson planning may be a withdraw be there are likely other ways to do it that might release more energy.
And, of course, if you need help hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org
See you at the workshop!
On Monday, I presented to a group of 200 high school students on the topic of talent and developing a Profile of Self. The conversation was good, they were engaged, and they got the concept, but something interesting happened in the middle of the presentation.
I had just helped them figure out how to identify talent and set them free to talk with their buddy and discover their own talents. They were doing it and the energy was high. I was excited to hear what they came up with and so I brought the group back together and asked for a few volunteers.
“Raise your hand if you discovered a talent,” I said.
About 150 hands went up. (Not sure what happened with the other 50.)
“Awesome! Raise your hand if you’re willing to share your talent with the group.”
Every hand went down. I waited, then prompted again, “who would be willing to share?”
I told them that I wanted them to watch this experiment, and again asked them to raise their hands if they found a talent. All hands went up. Then I asked who would share. All hands went down.
I asked a simple question: “Why? Why won't you share your talents -- the very things that make you unique?”
In response, I heard a few soft answers:
“What if I’m not that good?”
“People will laugh.”
Bingo. This experiment never fails. What is this phenomenon, where people discover their talents but won’t share them with the world? The cruel paradox of talent is that because we’re so naturally gifted at that thing we don’t believe we’re all that good at it. We’ve likely not had to work hard to develop it — because it’s innate — and so we fear raising our hand and owning it.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world wonders “where can I find someone who does ______” or “I wish I knew someone that was gifted at _____.”
When we refuse to raise our hand and share what we do best, we sacrifice the gift.
Don’t sacrifice the gift.
Want to catalyze some serious momentum in your life and career?
RAISE YOUR HAND.
It goes like this:
Job is draining —> Person can’t dream of a brighter future because they feel drained —> Person also has no energy after work to research a different path —> Job doesn’t change —> Job continues to be draining —> Person continues to not dream and get stuck —> Job doesn’t change —> Repeat
If you find yourself here, what do you?
The Dysfunction Spiral is vicious, because it can trap you in something you hate for a really long time.
Take steps to break free.
When I tell my career story, it starts with a job in public relations that drained me and ends with a career in leadership development and career coaching that fills my bucket every day.
What I don’t tell many people about are the stop-gap jobs in between. What's a stop-gap job? It's the job you take between the job you left because you couldn't do it a day longer and the job you can't wait to do, but haven't yet landed (or discovered!). More simply, it's a regular job that buys you time to figure out your next step.
Here were mine:
Customer service at Overstock.com: helping customers track packages, fielding complaints, and doling out $5 discounts like candy. FYI — if you’re mad enough, CR reps have the freedom to grant up to $5 credits. Boom.
Large appliance delivery: When Overstock.com got lame, I started delivering range stoves and ovens to pricey cabins in the mountains of Utah. From 5am until 7pm every day we delivered and unloaded huge appliances. Back breaking work but I got paid in cash — don’t tell Uncle Sam.
Alarm system sales: When delivering steel ovens got lame, I sold alarm systems door-to-door in Nebraska. What made me think this would be a better job? Not sure. But it wasn’t. Knock a door, offer a free system, plant a sign in the yard, and charge $40 a month for two years, more than making up the cost of the free system. I was bad at selling and worse at handling the rejections. Within the first two months I sold a respectable 40 systems. By the end of the fourth month, I had sold five more.
Although lame, these jobs served a valuable purpose. I’ve said before that when the ship is sinking, it’s tough to stand at the bow with a telescope and dream about that bright future. Better to get off the ship into a lifeboat, then reset your course.
If you’re in a dysfunctional job or environment that doesn’t allow you the energy or mind space to come home and dream, consider getting a stop-gap job. First of all, you can make ~$20k-30k a year doing them — enough to survive for 3-6 months — and the work will leave you with energy at the end of the day to do the important work of figuring out your next step.
Do they end up on my resume? No way. The only value these stop-gap jobs added was freedom and time to explore other options. "But don't employers ask about the gap between one actual job and another?" No one has ever asked me why I had a nine-month gap. In my opinion, if someone asks you tell them: "I took some time off to figure out what I really wanted to do, and this job (that I'm interviewing for) is it."
Don't overthink the stop-gap job. Dive in, work hard, earn your minimum wage, then get home and figure out what you really want to do.
Plus, they make for a great story.
Hi! I'm Dustin.
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