Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Love, Passion, Energy

"What career lessons remain the same as they were 40 years ago when the book was first published?

That's easy. Job-hunting is a repetitive activity in the life of each individual. No one is coming to "save you". You are the one who is in charge of your job hunt, with whatever allies you may enlist to help you. You must take yourself as "the given" and find work that matches you - your gifts and passions, not (as is commonly done) taking the job market as "the given" and trying to contort yourself to fit. And you must ask yourself not what you do well, but what you most love to do, because love gives birth to passion, passion gives birth to enthusiasm, and enthusiasm gives birth to energy. Every employer is trying to hire focused, committed energy, regardless of the field or job." - Richard Bolles, Author of What Color is Your Parachute

As I read that commentary - I think it merits the word insightful - what leaps to my mind is how often I (and probably lots of others) get it wrong. In a way, it's like Musashi's admonition that often we assume that we know how the other side thinks and act accordingly: we assume we know what the market or companies want, and so we create the things that we believe they will want to hear. Our resumes brim over with recommendations of those that review them. We hear how bad the market is and seek to contort ourselves to meet what we think people want. In so many ways, the job search process has become similar to offerings to a pagan god: we walk up to the altar, make our sacrifice and then hope that something happens because it's a mysterious process and we've no idea how it actually works or who we can talk to. We approach the job search and application process from a position of weakness, crouching in fear before a perceived process that we can neither influence nor control, but only endure. And if we are seeking to be that which we think others want, we become even weaker, not have our core person available to defend and excite but only the feeble shadow of "what can I do to get this job?".

Here's the thing (and Bolles is right on about this): if you don't love what you do, you will never be good at it.

You know this. Surely at every job you've had you've worked with people that were there at least physically but not mentally, who gave a certain level of effort and that was all, who simply never sought to improve at all. Yes, environment and management policies and lead to this but the reality is that good skilled people come out of lousy work environments all the time. It's the individual, not the environment that determines this.

What are our gifts and passions? What are we really enthusiastic about? Those are the things that will eventually lead us to personal and professional success, not making ourselves into images that others want.

If I'm the given and not the market, how does this impact my job search - and my life's path?

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