Do you want to find a job, or do you yearn for the one you already have to be more fulfilling? You’ll spend more than 85,000 hours of your life at work, so we think it should be a meaningful experience. The first step to career happiness is understanding yourself and what you need from a work experience.
Check out this video for tips on getting more out of your work and finding a job in which you thrive.
We conducted some recent research to discover just how important passion and purpose is to living a happy life, especially the part of our lives that we spend at work. The results say a lot about how following our passions makes a positive difference in our own lives and in the world around us. Over 3500 people told us that passion and purpose drive their sense of fulfillment. What was surprising is how much of a significant influence they have on solving big challenges that impact us all!
There used to be a dreaded moment every year, when I’d tear off the page of my inspirational desk calendar to reveal the month of February. Don’t get me wrong, February can be an awesome time of the year. After all, it’s when we celebrate Black History Month and when we honor two of the founding fathers of our nation on President’s Day. While that’s kind of a big deal, for years I struggled with a particular date in the middle of the month, when everyone else around me seemed excited about Valentine’s Day. They were buying gifts, exchanging sappy Hallmark cards, and preparing for an evening with that special someone —complete with dinner, flowers and chocolates — all supposedly leading to a phenomenal night of hot romance. (more…)
While making a mad dash to board an airport train last week, I ran into Stephen —literally ran into him — as we both jockeyed to squeeze ourselves in among the other harried travelers. We had not seen each other since our days as middle managers when we both worked for the same large multinational firm. Stephen was incredibly fun back in those days, as well as ambitious, hard working and among the most brilliant men I knew. Anyone who worked with him for more than 30 minutes could tell that they were in the presence of genius and that Stephen was going straight to the top. His coworkers would joke that they’d all be reporting to him one day.
I couldn’t get over how great Stephen looked. He had that same glow about him, that same mischievous gleam in his eyes that told you he had a lot going on in that impressive brain of his. After exchanging a warm embrace and inquiring about the lives of each other’s families, I asked Stephen how things were going at the company, where he was now a vice president. They’d had some recent product recalls and sales quota challenges that I heard he’d been wrestling with and I wondered if the dust was finally settling. As the train doors opened to our terminal, Stephen told me, “I’ve been fired.”
“What????” I asked, as I stared at him widemouthed, the disbelief undoubtedly etched on my face.
There is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of that moment when you’re first awarded an important leadership role. Having “finally arrived” you imagine yourself as the rock star taking center stage at a roaring stadium of adoring fans. You can almost hear the ear shattering cheers of the crowd as they clamor to get closer, iPhones in hand, ready for the chance to take a cherished selfie and bask in your celebrity. The congratulatory comments and notes follow soon after, as do the handshakes, hugs and backslaps of colleagues, some of who may be actually be truly happy for your success. But, after repeatedly playing this movie in your head, (in which your performance in the leading role is, of course, Oscar worthy) at some point you come face to face with the enormity of your responsibility to others. Grand titles and big salary aside, the burning issue now is how you’ll show up as a leader and what legacy you’ll leave behind.
The answers to those questions will largely depend on your knowledge of who you really are. When the movie in your head winds to a close, you have to become someone other than that fantasy Mick Jagger you’ve been channeling. You have to be the leader who makes a difference for the business and for the people in it who make it hum. Becoming that authentic leader requires being able to answer four important, soul-searching questions:
Who am I?
This is more than a name, rank and serial number kind of question. Knowing who you are means you deeply understand why you’re here and the unique contributions you intend to make—not just to the organization, but to the larger world as well. It means having a profound sense of purpose in your life and the capacity to articulate it well, so that you engage and inspire others. You should be able to fill in the blank in the sentence “My purpose in life is to ___________. “ If you can’t, it’s time to start working towards that answer, because your success as a leader depends upon it. Authentic leaders are able to visualize the sightline between their own purpose and the mission of the organization to such a profound degree, that their work is more than a job; it’s an extension of who they are.
What are my passions?
This is not a question that seeks to understand if you’re passionate about food, wine, football or skydiving, nor if you’re passionate about that attractive new member of your tennis club. The understanding of passion that’s essential for you to lead well requires deep insight into the passions that you express as a result of the purpose that drives you. After years of working with leaders around the globe, significant research has revealed ten core passions that operate in everyone. They are codified as the following passion archetypes: Builder, Transformer, Teacher, Connector, Healer, Altruist, Conceiver, Creator, Processor and Discoverer. Knowing that you are a passionate Builder, for example, will drive you to achieve huge goals and dream big dreams. But, if you are managing someone with a Processor passion, you’ll need to slow down and lay out a detailed plan if you want to gain their support and benefit from their expertise. Understanding your own passions and how they interplay with those of others empowers you to leverage both the skills and the passions of the people on your team to get the best results.
How am I impacting others?
As a leader, a critical responsibility is to design and maintain the culture of the organization. If your people debate and discuss issues openly and then work together to arrive at the best path forward, it’s because you’ve created a culture where information hording is frowned upon and where people are encouraged to take risk and explore new ideas. Conversely, if your culture is one that pushes against reality and demands (rather than inspires) results, you’re likely to have few people around you who commit to your vision or tell you when the data proves that it’s flawed. Consider the recent leadership shakeup at tech and power giant, Toshiba, as a case in point. A series of leaders at the helm, including CEO, Hisao Tanaka “resigned” along with seven other leaders on the heels of a $1.2 billion accounting scandal. Tanaka pushed employees to deliver on “challenge or stretch” targets to such an extent that profits were likely padded to make it appear that the goals had been attained. Tanaka and his predecessor, former Vice Chairman, Norio Sasaki (who resigned along with the others) were known to operate with a “no excuses” mentality, which created a culture where few were willing to disappoint them, and even fewer likely to tell them the truth. This culture, and the leadership that spawned it, resulted in an over 20% drop in Toshiba’s stock price.
Where are my edges?
Knowing the boundaries of your value system and clearly understanding what you’re not willingto do to win favor or profit provides you with an internal GPS to guide your behaviors. In the safety of our own thoughts, it’s easy to define ourselves as we’d like others to see us, but the work environment is where all those perceptions get tested. It’s where you are challenged to demonstrate the courage of your convictions as a leader and where you learn to embrace both your strengths and your weaknesses. Knowing your edges will prompt you to ask important questions of the business and the decisions that are made by you and other leaders in it. Beyond the question, “Is what we’re planning to do legal?” a strong value system will cause you to ask, “Is this the right thing to do for our business and the promise of our brand?”
Perhaps these are questions that the ousted leaders at Toshiba might now have time to ponder.
When that alarm goes off on Monday morning, are you excited to start your week, or are you dreading it? Chances are good that you can build more passion into your life and work by introducing four new techniques into your daily routine.
Start with Intent
It’s one thing to say that you’re passionate; it’s another thing to really understand your particular passions and set an intention each day to use them. Research has identified that we all function with three major passions (out of 10 possible passion archetypes) that serve as our fuel line for happiness. One of the best ways to set your daily passion intention is to start each day reviewing what you’d like to accomplish. Rather than merely preparing a to-do list, think more deeply about how each of your passions can be applied to the activities that you need to accomplish. Get specific about the moments or situations where you can apply your passions to accomplishing goals, and go for it!
Link Your Passions to Your Purpose
Once you know what your passions are, it’s a lot easier to see how they are related to your purpose in life. Passions are the outwardly visible expression of purpose, so looking closely at your passions can tell you a lot about the deeper purpose that drives them. I have a Healer passion, for example. When I look back at my life, I can see that an overarching purpose that I’ve carried is to be a Healer. It’s shown up in the things I’ve chosen to study (medicine and science); it’s shown up in my career path (I’ve grown from a researcher, to a team and leadership coach, to an author of a book on purpose and passion, to a host of an online show about passion….and who knows what’s next!); and it’s shown up in the roles that I play in the relationships that are most important to me. One British study of 9000 people shows that finding the connection between your passions and your purpose will not only enhance your life, it will extend it. Follow the thread of your passions back to their origin and you’ll find your purpose there waiting to greet you.
Look for Beauty
People, who successfully use their passions on a daily basis, take time for reflection and meaning making. To do so more effectively, create special places for reflection in your surroundings (at home, in the office, or out in nature) where you are enveloped by beauty. Science shows that beauty is an elixir for happiness and reflective thinking because it introduces us to the extraordinary, sometimes through things that are seemingly ordinary, and it provides us with a sense of our place in the larger world around us. Where you choose to make your home matters, of course, but even a simple vase of fresh flowers on your desk, a stroll through the park, or taking time to sit in a gallery full of breathtaking paintings can provide all the beauty you need to get into that reflective place. Find your source and plug in.
Check Out so you can Check In
A very successful CEO that I know spends the first hour of his day setting his intent through meditation. What’s special about his approach is not so much the hour he spends reflecting every morning or even how he does it, but more importantly, how he uses that hour later in his day. Before going into any important meeting or engaging in a critical conversation, he takes himself away from everyone, for just a few minutes, and reconnects to those early morning moments. He disconnects with the crowd so he can reconnect with himself and asks, “What is the highest purpose that I can bring to this interaction?” Taking time each day for a shot of silence that allows you to re-center will help you better focus on how to apply your passions to what matters most.
Bottom line: Using your passions is a daily practice, but it’s not hard to get started. The benefits of doing so are immeasurable; you can improve your job performance, bring more happiness into all aspects of your day, and live a higher quality, longer life. What’s not to like about leveraging your passions?
There is a new field of psychology, called “positive psychology” that specifically studies the strengths and characteristics that allow individuals and communities to thrive. So of course, positive psychologists have studied the concept of resilience and have discovered significantly valuable information. The most important discovery is that we can learn to build resilience; we are not born with a limited supply. Here are some simple steps that we can all take to become more resilient:
Get Physical – We know that you’ve heard it before, but it’s true. Exercise makes all the difference! Keeping our bodies healthy, shedding those extra pounds, and bathing in that post-exercise endorphin buzz improves our outlook on life and allows us to better weather changes and challenges.
You Are What You Eat– You wouldn’t leave a rare Stradivarius violin out in the rain, so don’t put junk in your body. A healthy diet improves not only your waistline, but also your mindset. Healthy food is an important component of resilience building and it starts early in life. You can read more here about the importance of nutrition for individuals and communities.
Live your Purpose and Passions – Research shows that individuals who have a strong sense of purpose and apply their passions in their daily lives are much more likely to stay healthy and live longer. An absence of passion and the focus that comes from it can leave us more prone to stress and the illnesses that are related to it, and much less resilient when life throws us curve balls. Here is a simple framework from Cornell University for building resilience and you can discover your passions here.
Challenge Your Brain– You may think that playing games is just for kids, but research shows that keeping your mind challenged through games, learning a new language, or learning new skills is key to thriving. Keep those neuron’s active by engaging in new activities that expand your mind.
Control Your Thoughts– Mindset matters! Individuals who possess an optimistic outlook better weather obstacles, setback and change. It’s important to quell that ego voice in your head that tells you that you’re not enough. It’s a fear-based message that doesn’t serve you. And it’s just plain wrong!
Build Relationships– Community is a powerful tool for resilience building. You may think you can go it alone through life, but psychologists tell us that having the support of others is essential, especially when we are weathering trying times. You don’t need 500 best friends; one good one will do. And remember that you can build your community through family relationships, neighbors, social interactions with work colleagues, and through clubs, team sports, religious organizations and volunteering. Find your tribe!
Anticipate Change– Life is dynamic and change is inevitable. If you learn to anticipate change with a sense of enthusiasm rather than dread, you’re much more likely to successfully navigate the curve balls of life. Remember, this isn’t your first rodeo. You’ve survived change before and you will do so in the future. It’s worth examining the techniques you’ve used in the past to get through tough times and remember that you’ve built capabilities that you can use over and over again. Plus, not all change is bad; sometimes a new and better order emerges, so stay open to possibility.
Be a Bit Selfish– We’ve talked about taking care of your body and challenging your mind, but part of building resilience requires that we nurture the soul. Look for experiences that bring joy and beauty into your life, or that allow you to relax and feel comforted. Yes, we all have responsibilities to others and to our work, but taking time for self care is essential. So, be good to others, but be a bit selfish on occasion and do something that’s just for you — something that makes your heart sing and your soul smile.
Veterans seek to transition from military life to a civilian career, but grapple with the challenges of identity loss, homelessness, and post-traumatic stress. Learn about the national crisis our veterans and their families are facing and how courageous individuals and organizations are stepping up to help.