When we teach career development courses, we start with the basics:
were born, so you have a reason to be here. You have a little flame
inside you, and you've had it since you were tiny. Your job is to grow
that flame. How will you do that? You'll do it by listening carefully to
your heart and to your body. You'll be receptive to cues from the
universe, no matter what form they take.
see your job search and your career not as a series of X + Y = Z
transactions but as a journey. You'll keep getting closer and closer to
the thing that you were born to do, and your flame will grow in the
Traditionally job-seekers have not been taught that they
have a flame to grow. They've been taught the opposite - that they're
lucky to have a job at all. Why would we believe that?
is a natural system and a living organism. Surely everyone who is born
on this planet deserves a shot at whatever the force-in-charge put him
or her here to do. So the fearful notion "Be happy you have a job, and
be content with it" is an insult not only to the person to whom it's
directed but to all of us and to whatever power we put our faith in.
would believe the lie that we're meant to have a job, go home, turn on
the TV, take a vacation once a year and then die? There must be more to
this existence, and of course there is. We can make a mark. We can see
things our own way and share that vision with other people. We can make
the world better when we leave it than when we came in.
We can do
it in our professional lives. A job is not a painful burden whose
purpose is to fund the good parts of life. Your job should be one of the
best parts of your life, but most of us have sucked down gallons of
toxic lemonade in the form of the message "No, no - that's asking too
much of your job."
your flame is growing at work, you can't wait to get there. You can't
wait to talk to the customers and vendors and brainstorm with your
We had that energy at U.S. Robotics for years, not
only when the company was tiny but also when it was large. We would not
insult salaried employees with an attendance policy. We hired them, for
Pete's sake - why would we track their movements?
There is no
sense in fear-based management. The Godzilla system in place in most
large companies and institutions isn't run on common sense but on a
bizarre and self-referential Business Logic instead. Here's an example:
Why do you talk that way on the phone sometimes, Dad? You sound like a different person then.
Well, those are business conversations, son. I speak differently in the business world.
Because it's business, son. It's more formal.
Why is that?
Because it's business, like I said. It's different from normal life.
Stop asking questions, son.
you aren't growing your flame, your body will let you know. You'll get
headaches and your sleep will suffer. Your back will give out or you'll
catch cold. You can't fool Mother Nature. When you are not in the right
place, the signals will start to show up.
threw out my back and was carried on a stretcher to the hospital, as
undignified a procession as you can imagine. At the hospital they gave
me a muscle relaxant and nuclear-strength painkillers and didn't even
inquire about what might have led to my spine's revolt. It isn't our
habit in the industrialized west to ask penetrating "Why?" questions.
is changing now! We are realizing that our bodies aren't separate from
our conscious brains. When the body isn't happy, ain't nobody happy.
Here are seven signs you're wasting your talent in the job you've got.
Your Resume Isn't Changing
a year it's a good idea to pull out your resume and update it. If you
look at your resume and you can't change anything on it because you
haven't learned anything new, taken on any new responsibility or had any
notable accomplishment, it's time to go. When you aren't moving forward
you are sliding back, because time moves on. If your job consists of
repetition of the same old duties, your dammed-up forward energy is
hurting you and the paycheck is not enough to keep you there.
Your Star Isn't Rising
or not you want to get promoted or become a household name, it's
reasonable to want some recognition for your contribution. If you plod
forward an inch at a time on the job and the people who could influence
your career path (or share some words acknowledging your impact) don't
do it, you're wasting your gifts. You have big things to offer the rest
of us, and you won't be able to do that if the folks around you can't
see what you bring.
Your Flame Isn't Growing
flame grows when you turn inward to retrace your path and get the
learning from it. Your flame flickers and starts to go out when you beat
up on yourself or let other people do it. Your flame burns more
brightly when you step outside your comfort zone and remind yourself
that you are an insanely awesome person with tremendous talents to
share. Your flame diminishes when you let people tell you what you won't
achieve and what you can't do. Why not step out there and do what they
said you couldn't? Living well is the best revenge!
Your Muscles Aren't Getting Bigger
do your muscles grow? There's only one way -- you have to use them.
Your vocal cords are muscles, and so is your truth-telling core. Use it
and see how it gets stronger! You'll be bench-pressing 500 lbs. of
insulting Godzilla dogma once your truth-telling muscles reach their
If you're not getting better at spotting and calling
attention to stupid, talent-repelling and anti-human statements, ideas,
practices and policies at work, then your truth-telling muscles are
atrophying. They are getting weaker. Get yourself into a place where you
can find your voice and speak your truth, a little more every day.
Your Sphere of Influence Isn't Expanding
the right job people will notice what you do and thank you for it, even
though it's your job. People will ask you to take on more and try new
things, once they see what you can handle. You will develop a fan club
and they'll help expand your influence beyond your department and your
organization. In the wrong job people will guard their work and their
contacts because they fear that to share them is to give away power.
They'll work to keep your influence from expanding. Do you want to spend
your energy in political squabbles, or changing the world?
SCRIPT FROM A HUMAN WORKPLACE
ABISHEK: Don, have you got a second?
DON: Sure, what's up?
Yesterday at our meeting, when you mentioned that you're going to put
together a first-half IT recap for the VP meeting, were you thinking
about making that presentation? Because if you like, I'd be happy to
speak to the VPs about what we've been doing.
DON: Yeah? You're comfortable with that? They ask tough questions!
I'm stoked to do it. If you have time to spend an hour with me
anticipating the VPs' questions and helping me formulate answers, I'd be
excited to have that conversation with them. I'm proud of what we've
DON: That's fantastic. I'll send you my notes and then we
can talk about what else should go in that presentation. I'm thinking of
a 15-minute talk. Does that sound right?
ABISHEK: That's great. I
really want to get their thoughts on the new dashboard. I'm not sure
they realize we built that in-house.
DON: I love it. You just took a major headache off my plate.
ABISHEK: Cool. Have a great weekend!
SCRIPT FROM GODZILLA WORLD
ABISHEK: Don, have you got a second?
DON: Sure, what's up?
Last week at the meeting, you mentioned making a presentation to the
VPs about our first-half results in IT. Have you thought about who you'd
like to design and deliver that presentation?
DON: Well, I have to give it to Rich. He knows the VPs. They're comfortable with him.
ABISHEK: Does Rich want to do it?
No, he hates that stuff, but I can't throw someone else in there, even
you, even my star player, they'd be like "Where's Rich?"
ABISHEK: Why is that, Don?
DON: Old-school network, man. No new information, no new faces if we can help it.
ABISHEK: What about me and Rich presenting as a team?
Listen Abishek, I didn't tell you this, but two months ago at the VP
meeting I said "I'd like to move Abishek into a leadership role, because
he gets things done." The feedback I got was "Let Abishek hit his five
year anniversary with the company and we'll think about it." Sorry to
hit you with that.
ABISHEK: That's two and a half more years! I've been pushing a rock uphill so long already...
DON: I mean, it's a job, right?
Your Marketability Isn't Improving
bad when your job destroys your mojo, but it only adds insult to injury
when the job trashes your marketability, too. That's what happens when
you work for an employer nobody views as smart or forward-looking. It
happens when you don't learn new things you can bring to your next
Your marketability plummets when you don't have new
Dragon-Slaying Stories to tell, and that happens when you don't get to
do anything new.
No employer is worth damaging your resume for.
You're better off contracting and gaining new resume fodder than
becoming a person who does the same thing day after day for years on
end. Who's excited about hiring a person like that, a person with his
gut instincts stifled and flame nearly snuffed?
You're Not Moving Down Your Path
job has to move you down your path toward the future you envision for
yourself. If that isn't happening, don't freak out - just start working
on your resume and thanking the stars for the message "ENOUGH!" that
you're receiving now.
The "Aha!" you might be experiencing is the
first step. Everything else will fall into line when you remember that
nobody has the right to dim your flame.
If they don't get you,
they don't deserve you -- and if you're casting your pearls before
swine, you're better off letting your talents shine forth on a bigger,
In our second script, Abishek got a blast of cold water in the face from his manager Don.
What should Abishek do next? Here's our advice!
HELP US NAME THE LITTLE PIGGIE!Do
you have a great name for the piggie in the image above? Leave your
name idea in a comment. Leave a reply to the comments that include
pig-names you like. Tell us why the pig seems to fit one name or
another. We want to hear from you!
Liz Ryan and Chequed for a webinar in the Revolution in HR Series next
week! Learn what's new in Employer Branding and why it matters -
Our company, Human Workplace, was founded in
2012 to reinvent work for people. Our CEO and Founder Liz Ryan was a
Fortune 500 HR SVP and is now the world's most widely-read career and
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