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What you do every day is not just a job.
It’s an opportunity to further develop your skills.
It’s a chance to stimulate your brain and solve challenging problems.
It’s an opportunity to add value to the people around you, to make them smile, to help them to feel better about themselves.
It’s a chance to build resilience when the going gets tough.
I’ve worked in roles where I didn’t quite fit in.
The culture wasn’t quite right for me and I wasn’t spending my energy on activities that matched my skills.
It was a great place, with great people, but it wasn’t right for me, certainly not in the long-term.
I was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.
Is that you?
Since I finished school in 1989 (yes, I’m that old), and before starting my own business, I have worked for 4 organisations. I worked for a major bank, a telecommunications company and two different church denominations. In most of those organisations, I held multiple roles and had the privilege of working with, and for, some great people.
As I reflect upon my career, I can honestly say that I loved each of the jobs that I had. There may have been aspects of these roles that I didn’t enjoy, or that didn’t match my skills, but overall, they were positive experiences that taught me a lot and prepared me for where I am today.
But if I genuinely loved them, why did I move on?
From a young age, we feel this strange compulsion to get a job.
It makes sense. We have to find a way to make money, to buy food and keep a roof over our heads.
There are certain expectations of us. From our parents, our friends, society.
Get a job.
While you’re at it, make it a good one. One with a fancy title and good pay.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time at work, so you may as well get well paid for it.
But is that all there is?
The wedge-tailed eagle of Australia is a magnificent bird of prey.
One of the largest eagles in the world, they have a massive wingspan that measures over two metres across. Soaring effortless high above the ground, they are a wonderful sight and I have seen them not far from where I live.
They are equipped with huge talons and a large, sharp beak to catch and kill their prey, which can be as large as a wallaby, goat or lamb.
But there’s a problem.
Despite their fearsome hunting equipment, they most often survive on roadkill.
If someone was to ask you what you do, how do you describe your job?
Do you see yourself as just a teacher, or someone who inspires children to gain a lifelong love of learning?
Are you just a receptionist, or someone who creates a warm and friendly atmosphere?
Are you just a construction worker, or someone who builds magnificent edifices that change the city landscape and houses that become homes?
Hermit crabs are remarkable creatures.
Unlike true crabs, which have their own exoskeleton to protect them, they have taken to inhabiting empty shells.
When they get too big for the shell that they are living in, they find a new one and move right in.
Over the years, I’ve met too many people who were afraid to learn the lesson of the hermit crab.
They find themselves stuck in a job that doesn’t suit them anymore.
Seth Godin recently had this to say about our calling,
When what you do is something that you make important, it doesn’t matter so much what you do.
It’s not that important where. It matters a lot how.
With passion and care.
When it comes to our careers, it’s easy to become fixated on what you are doing.
Today is just another day in office.
Which means one of two things.
It could mean another day of meaningless routine, where you go in, do the minimum and go home.
Where you begrudgingly cope with your colleagues and clients.
Where you try to avoid anything too difficult or inconvenient.
Where you earn a paycheck and not much more.
If you’re reading this, it’s because you have a boss who doesn’t appreciate you.
You work hard, you have some great ideas, but no-one seems to notice.
The only thing that is seen is your mistakes and it’s starting to get frustrating.
So because your boss is unable to say it, I want to take the time to say thank you.
Thank you for your hard work.
Thank you for your excellence.