A Wonderfully Simple Principle

joe —  Tue 2-Mar-10

You know those little pieces of advice that you love to tell others but forget to use yourself? I have one of those that recently made all the difference in the world for me and my family.

I was in a mentoring session with a dear friend when they explained to me that they weren’t feeling fulfilled in their role as a manager. After going through countless, complicated stories of unhappiness, I told them that there is a magic formula that I employ to determine if I am in the right job.

“Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do.” – Steve Farber, The Radical Leap

No sooner had I uttered those words then the sound of something similar to 2000 pounds of brick crashing to the ground rang through my ears. I had forgotten to use my own advice. When I finally did, there, in perfect three part harmony stood the source of what had been brewing inside of me for the last several months.

Do What You Love

This is what has been drilled into us for a long time. How do you know what you love? I love riding my bike, but I am pretty sure that I am not capable of doing that as a career. The one thing I have learned is I love doing things that align with my talents – the things that I do naturally well that others may struggle to do. This is the topic for a week’s worth of columns. If you don’t want to wait for those columns I strongly urge you to go out and pick up a copy of Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham. This will get you well on your way.


In The Service Of People

It is my firm belief that we are called to serve. Servant leadership is in some form or another at the heart of all that I practice and teach. When you truly serve others you cast aside many of the things that tempt you to misuse your authority. When you serve others you take doing a good job to a whole new plane. You feel connected and of value to the world.


Who Love What You Do

This is often the kicker. This doesn’t mean only work for people that love you. This means go find opportunities that when the job is done well is of demonstrable value to the person or company that you serve. To each of us this can mean many different things. The key is you have to see evidence that the recipient loves what you do.

In order to have this fulfilled you have to know who the people are that you are serving. This may be your team, your boss, your customer or all three. The key is that there must be an intimate link between the people you serve and the ones that love what you do. You get to define this. It is your happiness after all.

So I put the test to my past job situation.

  1. Do what you love – check.
  2. In the service of others – check.
  3. Who love what you do – hmmmm, not so much.

I was a part of a team that was created by a former leader that was no longer with the company. He viewed our role as critical to the success of the company. He truly loved and valued what we did. Once he left it became clear within a couple of months that his vision was not shared by others.

There is nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, when my former boss left we were having significant challenges as a company. I would hope that new leadership would want to change things. Of course we all want things to change in the direction of our interests and this was not the case in this instance. While I fundamentally disagree with discounting the value of what our team did, I do appreciate that changes needed to happen.

So when I finally took my own advice and applied the words I had often given, it was obvious. Two-thirds of a precept was not enough. I really needed that last piece. It was then that I knew I needed to change things, and I have – all because of this wonderfully simple principle.

Guess how I decided that the next job was right for me?

Today’s question
What litmus test do you use to know if you are being fulfilled in your work?