Po Bronson is a career expert and the coauthor of Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing. He was recently interviewed by Money magazine on the elusive and intriguing question of how you can bulletproof your career (“The Big Question: How Can I Bulletproof My Career?” Donna Rosato, September 2013, pp. 92–95). His insightful answers can benefit us all, especially his comments about finding career satisfaction and meaning:
“Most of what makes work feel satisfying and meaningful isn’t solved by changing your job or what field you’re in. The baseline is you need adequate challenge, and you need your contribution to be respected and honored by the people around you.” (p. 95)
I do believe people face situations in which a job change or an industry change is essential. Your personal awareness and circumstances should reveal that to you. Other than those extreme cases, Bronson’s point is genuine and powerful.
A racehorse is at its best when it is racing. A pianist is at his best when he is performing. A dentist is at her best when she is fixing teeth. Likewise, you are at your best when your skills are matched to your tasks. Too little and you will grow bored, too much and you will burn out.
Simultaneously, Bronson’s point about respect and honor are crucial. As professionals, we should constantly look for ways to respect and honor each other. Not because we are in some sick sort of mutual admiration society, but purely because such behavior is the natural outgrowth of quality professional relationships. Professionals appreciate what they bring to the table, and what others bring to the table. Moreover, when that happens, our career satisfaction and meaning skyrocket. Simple affirmation does that.
When was the last time you affirmed a colleague? When was the last time someone affirmed you? I hope you have good answers to those questions.
All this reminds us of how important it is to be in the right work environment. This means you should search first for the kind of organization in which to work before you search for a job title. Job title is important no doubt, but the people around you are the heart of the corporate culture. Who they are and how they behave will make all the difference in the world, especially if you want to bulletproof your career.
Rise to the right challenge level and select the best group!