Magazine article Talent Development

Purposeful Work: How to Find Your Next Job-One That Really Matters

Magazine article Talent Development

Purposeful Work: How to Find Your Next Job-One That Really Matters

Article excerpt

For many years, we have worked with students, clients, family, friends, and colleagues--all who were in search of their next jobs. Even founding CEOs who have sold companies or taken them public for millions of dollars have sat in the office and asked, "What do I do next?" Most of us don't just work to make money, but to make a contribution.

The big four questions

As executive coaches, we try to help people figure out what kind of a difference they want to make by asking questions that are as simple as they are profound. Three of our big four questions derive from the research of bestselling author and former Stanford University business professor Jim Collins.

In his book Good to Great, Collins outlines a simple, effective model to help entrepreneurs decide what to focus on to create successful companies:

* What are your strengths?

* What are you passionate about?

* What is your business model?

These same questions can help anyone looking toward his next job. By adding a fourth question, "How can your work help others?" this model can be used to help people find not just a career, but a calling.

What are your strengths?

According to Now, Discover Your Strengths, people who have the opportunity to do what they do best every day are happier and more successful. So the first step in finding a meaningful job is to identify your strengths.

We start by asking clients to make a list of what they're good at and could become great at if they really practiced in a disciplined way. Questions like this one slow people down and make them reflect. In fact, slowing clients down to do this exercise is exactly what makes this process work.

Research by Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, warns that people tend to think too quickly and jump to conclusions, which causes them to make big errors. We advise clients to take the project home, shop it around with people who know them well, and take a week or two to make the list as comprehensive as possible.

What are you passionate about?

Next we ask clients to review the list of what they're good at and identify what they are passionate about--what stimulates something inside them and makes them say "Yes!" Clients evaluate each of the items from one to five, with one being low and five being high in passion.

An ideal job follows an 80/20 rule: You would want to spend 80 percent of your day doing what you're passion-ate about and only 20 percent of your day doing what needs to be done but is not in your sweet spot.

How can your work help others?

Research by Sonja Lyubomirsky, au-thor of The How of Happiness, shows that doing kind deeds for others in-creases our own happiness. Helping others makes us feel good. People who are givers often are more successful as well.

Adam Grant, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, explains in Give and Take that people are takers, matchers, or givers. Takers seek to maximize every situation and extract value for themselves first and foremost. Matchers are all about tit for tat--making sure they receive as much as they give. Givers are "other oriented." It is this focus on others, this feeling of making a difference, that gives work a sense of meaning. …

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