High level professionals often thrive on projects and accomplishing the things they set out to do. A lot of those things are externally focused. If there is one thing successful senior leaders are good at, it is execution. Whether that means executing tasks on a list or putting a complicated business strategy in motion, they excel. However, when those same leaders find themselves in career transition, those execution skills often don’t serve as well as they expect.
When we speak with individuals in career transition, they are often externally focused. Many go into the transition process with a project-focused mentality of “if I push this button and pull this lever, it will all fall together and I will land a great job.” Unfortunately, there is no fool-proof equation to getting a new opportunity when you find yourself in career transition.
The ideal role, company culture, compensation, and amount of travel – these are all things that you may be asked when you are in a state of transition in your career. However, those aspects are not relevant until you know yourself. On paper, a certain company and position could look phenomenal but what makes a position truly great is dependent on how the job relates to you personally. Knowing what kind of person you are and what things will truly fulfill you on a professional level is a very important step in the process. Reflection and introspection may help lead your career down the right path, instead of settling for a position just for the sake of having one.
A great book by Dan Miller called 48 Days to the Work You Love* outlines the process of self-discovery within a chosen vocation. According to Dan, failing to make the fundamental discovery of calling is why so many individuals find themselves in jobs they find completely dissatisfying and unfulfilling. The first task in this book is to understand yourself. For example, if there is a position that is 85% data input, paper-pushing, or number crunching and you, by nature, are a people person or a salesman, there isn’t an offer enticing enough for you to feel fulfilled spending your time doing those things. There are, of course, small aspects of every job that are necessary and no one enjoys but you need to know yourself well enough to understand you don’t want to make a career out of it.
Jim Collins, author of Good to Great* offers a simple Venn diagram to help you define and understand your career direction. The three overlapping circles are Passion, Competency, and Economics. What is it that you are passionate about, good at, and can make money doing? Take some time to ponder these questions next time you find yourself in a position of career transition or job dissatisfaction and use the skills you have to do something you love and build a career you are proud of!