Good Morning—where is your career?

To everyone it is “good morning”, a hearty laugh and pleasantries all around. Amazingly, it is six in the morning and this is my daily commute into New York. The greeter to all of us is none other than Mr. Phillips who drives the bus and makes about 5/6 round trips per day.

This man has the most amazing personality. He thinks ahead by creating a sign for those commonly asked questions. Moreover, if you missed the sign and asked anyway, he’s always cheerful!

I have always marveled at his attitude and how he could keep all this up with the traffic that he has to deal with coming in and out of NYC. On an engagement scale, he would be considered off the chart.

One day I left work early and the bus was not crowded. I got a seat near the driver. Now I figured I could find the key to all this happiness. How is it that some employees are always pleasant and just loves what they do? While others come in with the long face and it never lifts up from there. They go through their entire career and never find the “sweet spot”. They may change careers and it is still not the answer. They cherish 5PM, Friday afternoons and most of all hate Sunday afternoons and Sunday nights.

So my first question was what do you like best about this job? His answer was, “I love to drive”. He said he can’t wait to get in the morning and get behind the wheel. He said that from the time he got his driver’s license, driving has always been his passion. He said that he would work 7 days if he could.

I remember reading an article a while back that during an interview, the CEO would ask what you do when you are not working. What are your passions outside of work? He felt that this gave him a clear picture of a person’s career motivation. If the outside interest closely the career path you are close to career nirvana.

This is an interesting dilemma. If you are lucky enough to find that employee that brings the outside skills inside, you have hit the employee jackpot. If you are an employee who thrives on your passion outside of work, just imagine the feeling of finding a job that matches this passion.

The old model that our parents instilled in us; to find a good job and work hard was a great piece of wisdom in years past. Today that model has changed. In many cases, we were the first ones in our families to finish college. When we did finish we knew nothing about careers; we just tried to get a job and hold on. Holding on today is not an option. You MUST find a career and not a job.

Here is the difference: A career is the pursuit of a lifelong ambition or the general course of progression towards lifelong goals. A job is an activity through which an individual can earn money. It is a regular activity in exchange of payment. Now you tell me which one is more exciting.

This is the key to all of our careers, what do we really enjoy doing? Are we doing it? If not? Why not? Would you do what you are doing as a hobby if no pay was involved? These are key questions that each of us must answer.

With the career tsunami that the current economic turmoil has wrought upon us, family and friends, now is the time to give a considerable amount of thought as to where do we go from here.

Here are some steps that may help you get started:
What is it that I really enjoy doing when I am not working?
What did I always want to be when I grew up?
If I had the economic means to do anything, what would I do?
What brings you the utmost fulfillment outside of work?
If you can answer these four questions in a definitive manner, you are on your way to the first steps of career clarity. Remember a problem well stated is a problem half solved.

You may not be a happy as Mr. Phillips but I assure you that your entire life will be changed once you solve this age-old problem of career management. So just think, someday you may well be greeting everyone with that hearty hello each morning.

You cannot afford not to. ~ Ron

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