Someone told me this poignant story once (and please pardon me while I paraphrase it here). There was a big flood and this guy was stuck on the roof of his home. Being a man of faith, he knew that God would save him. Someone floated by in a make-shift raft and offered the man a ride. The man refused because God was going to save him.
The rain kept pouring down. Someone else came by with a boat and again offered the man a ride away from the rising flood waters, but the man said no, God was going to save him. Finally a rescue helicopter found the man and tried to take him off of the roof, but the man again refused and the helicopter was forced by the storm to fly away.
The man drowned. And when he got to heaven, he asked God, “why didn’t you save me?” God replied, “who do you think sent the raft, and the boat, and the helicopter.”
My reading of this story isn’t any critique of Christianity or organized religion. Instead, I see it as a great reminder to always ask what you want from the universe…and then not get locked onto the form you think it should come in.
When it comes to a career path, it seems like my reading of this isn’t original. I saw an article this week that hypothesized that being willing to let go of the traditional notions of “job” and “career” is the best, and possibly the only, way to be successful in this current economy. The author says “There’s another path—one that doesn’t always impart a specific job title, where meaning can become a method to achieve financial stability, where our instinctive emotional response to the injustices in our world lay the foundation for a long-term career.”
So if we’re not supposed – or in some cases, can’t – simply pursue a series of similar job titles throughout our careers, then what pray tell are we supposed to do to find that perfect fit? What’s the opposite of nice little self-contained titles and labels?
How about amorphous qualities? If you knew you could have everything you wanted, what would it look like? What would it smell, sound, feel like? What type of people (if any) would be there? And, most importantly, what else in your life would you (still) be able to do? Here’s mine:
- I want an office that feels “alive” – lots of windows, light, plants (can we say, oxygen? Yes!), color, personality, an open-door policy, and a war-room for solving the problems of the world…or at least the part of the world we’re working on that day 😉
- I want to be able to wear professional clothes…with a twist – no more are we constrained to uncomfortable, dry-clean only, black suits. Unless they’re paired with fun jewelry, bright shoes, and a ruffle or polka-dots or some comfy cotton jersey here and there. A dress code that says “we’re professionals AND we’re comfortable doing it.”
- I want to be excited to go to work in the morning (even on the Daylight Savings “fall back” week), and have energy at the end of the day to go home to the rest of my life. I want an environment that supports working from home, actually getting to eat (and digest) lunch, and doing a great job the first time and on time.
- I want to work with a T-E-A-M – a group of creative, motivated, and fun-loving individuals who have my back 100% and know that I have theirs. People who will tell me to my face if I’ve messed up, and then follow with some suggestions for how to fix it next time.