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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.
If you owned a zoo, you wouldn’t put an elephant in the Arctic exhibit.
And the penguins and polar bears wouldn’t thrive in the desert section.
You wouldn’t leave the birds in an open area where they could fly away.
And no-one would put venomous snakes in a section with open bars where they can attack the visitors.
If we can find a way to ensure that animals are kept in conditions that best match their unique needs and enables them to thrive, why do so many people spend their lives in jobs that don’t match their skills, for companies that don’t match their values?
The kids had a ball, I loved it too and it was a lovely day.
On reflection, it seems to me that we need minions in our society.
There are a range of thankless, anonymous, unskilled and unglamourous jobs that are necessary, but pay a pittance.
Jobs that require someone to take orders to the letter, do what they’re told and not use their imagination.
They would work in the same job for 40 hours a week for 40 years, no matter how mind-numbingly boring and meaningless it was.
They would go back every day even though they hated it.
And despite being a mismatch for their role, they keep doing a half-baked job for years.
There was a time when too many people did work they hated, work that didn’t matter and work that they weren’t suited for, because they felt they had no choice.
Times have changed!
If you were to leave a branch over the edge of a monkey’s enclosure, the inhabitants would quickly find it and manage to escape, never to be seen again.
Why is it then that there are so many people in jobs that they hate?
Why is it that we so often find ourselves in negative situations, but don’t do anything about it?
They were changing industries or looking for promotions and were uncertain about the future.
There were a lot of unknowns for them, and the greatest concerns that they had were:
- Will someone give me a chance?
- Do I have the skills to succeed?
Whilst I can never guarantee the outcome, they themselves can control their attitudes, action and level of focus on their goals, so with that in mind, here are some of the questions that I asked in response: