My job adds value

We all want to have a job that adds value and brings a sense of purpose. Truth is, you need to invest in order to get that job. Here is how:

“I am looking for a job that adds value”, the graduate smiles at me. “I need to feel a sense of importance”, another one agrees. We are having a discussion on why to choose which job and how to emphasize certain aspects. Priorities around payment, working hours, leisure time, sense of purpose, content of the daily doing and so on are thrown through the room. All agree that feeling fulfilled at the end of the day is among the top three for their entry jobs.

Reality Check!

Have you felt fulfilled every day of your studies? How much value added that math test? And haven’t you been working until midnight to get that project done with your classmates?

I see some sort of nodding around me. I am surrounded by high performing students who all did well at school and chose to study a high intensity topic in university – leading them to even study abroad, working in a different language and get acquainted with unknown people from all over the world. Yet, when it comes to their first steps in working life, somehow the expectation shifts to immediate gratification.

As I am mainly working with people in business, let me use this picture from the corporate world: Investment.


investment
/ɪnˈvɛs(t)m(ə)nt/

an act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.

Dictionary

Investment means devoting time, effort or energy in the here and now whilst believing that it will have a result, payoff or impact in the future. In the sense of learning in order to get a degree, it is quite simple to see the principle working. Therefore it is easy to understand, why thousands of students go to university, investing night shifts, saying “No” to a whole lot of parties during their exam phases and pushing themselves abroad – not knowing whom to meet or where to sleep. They all have seen others do it and at the end getting a degree which lead to a job. A job that provided for their life.

The question unanswered is: when do we get to the turning point? When is the investment-phase over and when does the reaping-the-result-phase start?

I think there are two aspects to the answer:

  1. How big do you want your result to be?
  2. Why would you ever stop investing when you know that you will see a result in the future?

The size of the result

Let’s look at the building of a house – if you invest little time in building the foundation, it is only strong enough for a small house. So the size of the foundation will limit the size of your future house. Taking this picture to your education: if you decide that your investment time is over when leaving university, your job options and your future career will be limited to the investment given.

This leads back to the discussion of the graduates in the beginning. If you want immediate results after your graduation, you will probably find a job that requires limited amount of time to be present, but it will also limit your responsibilities and payment. Usually responsibilities are accompanied by freedom of choice and impact in the organization – and with these aspects you are getting into a stage where you feel that you have impact and fulfill a purpose for your company. But the impact and purpose are results that need to be earned by personal investment.

Therefore, if you are not sensing that purpose in your job yet, take a step back and check on people that are longer in their careers than you are. Would their role give you a sense of purpose? If yes, then maybe you are still in your investment phase. I want to encourage you to keep on investing and you will be getting there.

If you don’t see anyone of your superiors as a role model, you might want to consider to invest at a different place. Or you need to create your own role model. Maybe you like your job, but you just want to turn out to be a different type of boss – then invest in your leadership skills and become the leader you didn’t have.

Let’s consider your whole working life: you probably can use your 20s – 60s for university and profession; so roughly 50 years. How many years of investment are suitable for you in order to build a career? A career that has the potential to make an impact and in which you can have a sense of purpose? You choose how long you invest.

Why ever stop investing?

Once you have tasted the sweet result of an investment, you will never want to miss that taste again. Therefore it really does make sense to never stop investing. So while you are reaping from your investment of university in your first careers steps already, continue to invest in your education, skills and mindset.

Find yourself topics in which you want to get better. Acquire relevant certificates for your job, learn how to communicate well, write that article for your company’s newsletter – just to name a few. [For sure the same principle can be applied for your relationships and your body – just to trigger two more major aspects in our lives.]

For which results are you investing? This question leads back to the discussion with the graduates. Although we often associate result with career steps and money, I want to broaden your perspective for the sense of purpose and satisfaction. Once you are settled in your first job and you have learned the necessary basics, check what you want to reap in the upcoming years.

I give you a personal example: I always wanted to have a team that I enjoy working with. I want to get up in the morning and smile because I am looking forward to work with my colleagues on that day.

Did I have that team in my first professional years? Yes, sometimes. But not always. And certainly not because I intentionally invested for that team but rather by chance meeting some nice people on a project (and then investing into the relationship with those colleagues, of course).

Now – roughly 10 years after my graduation – I am in a position where I can invest in people in order to build that team. I can select applicants, hire team members, give them tasks and explain how that task is contributing to the big picture. I can listen to them so they feel valued, highlight their strengthens and give constructive feedback. It’s a daily work that I do – and day by day I see more of that investment bear fruit. And I really enjoy getting up in the morning and work with them!

But – please note – that vision was there in my first year of work. And 10 years later I am in the position to invest into that team. Some results take longer – and therefore I encourage you not to search for the immediate result in your professional year No 1, but rather think of the big picture and find your reason to invest on a broader scale.

Also, learn the skill of investing. The following questions can help you to explore your personal wishes and get a strategic step into your professional future.

  1. Think of what do you want to reap: high salary, good reputation, a great team, sense of purpose at your workplace etc.
  2. Find out where you want to invest: In which people do you want to invest? Which skills do you want to acquire? Which certificates will enhance your career? Which knowledge should you enhance?
  3. And then define how you want to invest: How much time do you want to spend? How much money is your investment worth? Where do you need to be in order to invest?

Have fun exploring and start investing into your purposeful future job that adds value.

Empowered by Laughter

“Laughter is fireworks for the soul”, they say. Enlightening this powerful resource at work, will make your day easier.

London. I am in a pub with colleagues. One of them just shares a hilarious story. Everybody laughs. A good laugh. A freeing one. Times flies, stories being shared and as soon as I am inhaling the rainy fresh air of the night, I am feeling energized and reloaded.

What a good laughter is capable of. Its amazing.

I should laugh more. Especially at work. This thought creeps slowly through my mind and I am realizing what has been missing the past weeks. A strengthening, energizing laugh. Running from meeting to meeting, creating tons of slides, squeezing in emails and calls just took too much attention and power.

But actually, when is it easy to laugh at work?

Recalling from experience it is easiest when I know “why” I am there. Working with purpose, knowing there is a goal I am heading to and I am enjoying the ride – with colleagues having a similar mindset.

Let’s take a closer look.

Laughing because you have purpose

I sit in a room full of inspiring motivated people. Everyone is sharing one’s story. Everyone is quite honest. Even with hopes and fears. One cite of a well-situated woman strucks me at heart. She seems to have everything. Being healthy, living in a wealthy environment in a spectacular scenery, having time and money for travelling … the whole package – but she admits the absence of meaningful work and purpose in her life leaves her desperate and empty. And hence, with less laughter than she’d like to have.

My life is nice. But nice isn’t enough.

A lady

Her statement resonates within me. I’m a big fan of living my life outside the comfort zone. Only in a stretch situation I am one step closer to my goal. Although this stretchy moment can cause some fear, the joy that rushes in when I have grown, mastered an obstacle and overcame fear leads to a massive smile and satisfaction.

Where are you just playing „nice“? Remember: you are missing out on a good hero’s laugh.

Laughing because you have people to laugh with

Is it just me or is a day easier when you are with the right pack!?

Luckily I get to work with great colleagues a lot – some becoming friends over time. And I see there is a certain dynamic when a good mix of people is together. Even if a task is hard to manage, a tight timeline needs to be met or a client is getting crazy – with the right team you can handle everything and feeling energized despite stress.

If you haven’t found your tribe yet, continue searching. Some people are meant to work together. In the meantime invest in your mindset and become the best colleague you want to work with. [You might get some inspiration in this classic book from Dale Carnegie (1936) which is used in all US elite universities in the general curriculum: How to win friends & influence people]

Colleagues are key. Make yours laugh today.

Thanks at this point to all my colleagues who are laughing with me. I feel blessed and privileged to have you in my life. 

Walking with purpose

The other night I was having dinner in a fine argentinian restaurant in the middle of Milan chatting with some colleagues. The internationality of the group, the fine Malbec wine and good company inspired us to share our envisioning of good vacation.

One colleague admitted that he and his wife cannot find a suitable vacation solution together – so basically she was getting her beach-resort-experience whilst he was looking for a comfy chair with seaview and getting drunk on fine spirits.

In retrospective I am not sure whether I reacted suitable. Actually, what is suitable in the pure presence of this devastating truth!?

The absence of purpose and vision within this very successful men’s life struck me. Don’t get me wrong – there doesn’t need to be a purpose on every step you take. But if you are living a purposeful life I suspect you might use your days off as recreation time, load yourself with power, joy and inspiration for the next episode of crazy work ahead.

In Milan, I actually also met another man. He first seemed quiet, distinguished and quite old – to be honest. But when he started to speak in the meeting, his eyes beamed, every word well chosen, addressing precisely the topic why he had attended the gathering. You could sense that he knew who he was, what he was here for and what he wanted to achieve.

He talked with purpose.

Both men had a great career, earned a lot of money – even worked in the same company. Still, the huge difference between them was obvious.

I believe, the latter man had an answer to his “why?”. He knew his purpose in life – and drawn from there his purpose for the meeting he was attending.

Do you?