Some of the best career advice I’ve ever gotten was to sit down and really think about what things you’ve done or experienced in your career that really made you happy. Things you enjoyed doing and were proud of. Write them down. Formulate a plan to pursue more things like those.
So often you start a career listening to the “should’s” of parents or aiming at what pays well. You may even be fortunate enough to know what you want to do and get to pursue your passion from the beginning. But invariably, I think most intelligent and self-aware people reach a few different points during a career where they look around and have to consider, “Wow, I’ve arrived, but is this really like what I thought it was going to be like?”.
In this piece at CIO.com, the author provides some great questions to ask early in your career, and when you find yourself at one of the question points later:
Figure out what you like doing and what you hate doing early on
Figure out what size and kind of company you want to work for
Do you want to be a CEO?
After gaining some experience, thinking about what you hate (or conversely love doing), how the size of the company you work for impacts that, and what your life will be like when you reach the job you strive for (the CEO question), can really illuminate your path forward.
When it comes to leadership, the US Special Operations Command is probably about as good as it gets. I had the privilege to see Gen. Stanley McChrystal speak once and was impressed not only by what he had to say, but also in how both practical and nuanced his points were.
This WSJ piece includes Adm. William McRaven’s recent commencement address at the University of Texas. Now as an Aggie, I won’t comment on the UT elements of his remarks but the lessons from SEAL training are worth hearing—summarized in his conclusion below (Source):
It will not be easy. But start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today. And what started here will indeed have changed the world, for the better.
Now I’m off to go make my bed.
In PDF form, from John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison. Hagel further defines passion in this other blog post as… (Source)
…strong emotions that motivate us to move beyond our comfort zone and to achieve the potential that resides within us. Passion comes from within each of us; it cannot be imposed or mandated from outside. At the same time, it compels us to move outside, to engage with the world around us.
Another good Stanford podcast. Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm and Handspring, talks about following your passion, reluctant entrepreneurship, and career. (Source)
A talk with Merlin Mann about finding what you’re best at—or rather obsessed with—and building identity in this long tail world. (Source)
Excellent Stanford podcast by Tom Kelly of IDEO about five practices to develop creativity and innovative thinking: Think like a traveller, treat life like an experiment, nurture an attitude of wisdom, use your whole brian and tortoise mind, and follow your passion. Great advice for work and life. (Source)