Most people know I spent the first 20-plus years of my career working in ten different jobs for five different companies (and I was never let go because of poor performance). And out of those ten jobs, there are about eight that I hope I never get to go back and do again!
I think my experience is similar to many others, which is why I started my own business in 2002, primarily to help businesses understand their employees better, and specifically to help them understand why some people were likely to be better performers in certain roles than other people.
The best part about what I do is that it creates what Stephen Covey calls a win-win scenario. When companies put people in jobs that they are naturally wired for, they end up performing better – because they aren’t having to be someone they are not (which causes stress).
When employees are successful in their jobs because who they are is a match to what the company needs, the employee feels better about themselves, and usually will perform better over a longer time period. So, both the company and the employee experience a win.
Over time I have seen and used several paradigms to explain this phenomenon. And in the next few posts I will share some of them with you. Not everyone will relate to all of them, but hopefully you can find one that resonates for yourself and/or your company.
But first, a comparison of some terms that I think will be helpful. People who view their work as a job feel minimal meaning from the work, see their pay as a way to pay for life’s necessities, and will switch work immediately if given the chance. People who see their work as a career are more engaged, enjoy what they are doing, and generally desire more pay, promotions, and higher responsibilities. People who view their work as a ‘calling’ are the most satisfied, and work isn’t thought of as separate from other parts of their life – but it was profoundly part of their identity.
I’ll start out with one of the simplest paradigms, and also one of the oldest ones. Aristotle studied at Plato’s Academy in ancient Athens, and his name literally means “the best purpose”. He was attributed the quote, “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your calling.” I don’t know how it gets any simpler than this. He seemed to understand the differences between job and career and calling, and felt that we achieved our highest calling when we were using our natural talents (i.e, skills) to get stuff done.
I’ll add some additional paradigms focused on job/career/calling fit in future posts. Until next time.