Monday, November 30, 2009

Seeking North Stars

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play”

You have heard these words since the day of your high school graduation.

"Do what you love"
"Follow your passion".
"Find a job you enjoy and you'll never work a day in your life"

Sounds simple.

But, far from easy.

Clutching your diploma on Graduation Day, you were confident of being able to do just that. You were going to branch out and assume your rightful place in a lush forest filled with dreams and opportunities. With the world as your orchard, you just had to decide which apple was yours. However, a series of dead-end jobs, empty corporate promises and meaningless work has a way of chopping down even the strongest trees of confidence. By the time you hit your thirties, you are in deep woods off territory - without a career compass at your core.

Realistically and statistically, a large percentage of adults spend their entire work lives doing things they would rather not. Even before the recession, Gallup reported less than 27% are "truly engaged" in their jobs. Other studies suggest as many as 70-80% are doing work they don't especially enjoy. And another Gallup Survey reports nearly 20% are actively disengaged, or disconnected from their work; marked by high absenteeism and less than fulfilling personal and professional lives.

One of those statistics is an actual friend of ours.

For the sake of the story, let's call this person "D".

Thoroughly disenchanted and feeling used by the company signing the cheque, "D", was recently challenged to look at this predicament in a different way. What if the problem wasn't as much to do with the company or industry, but more so with the choice that was made to be there? In other words, by deciding not to follow a career path "D" was passionate about, our friend was getting pretty much what they had bargained for. Over a well-worn path of twenty years or more.

Feeling hopelessly lost and unable to see the forest for the trees, "D" was put on the spot to find passion through the penetrating, laser focus of a single, stinging question:

"So, what gets you out of bed in the morning"?

"D" stood there speechless.

Dumbfounded and dumbstruck.

As a quiet moment turned to a silent minute, it was clear "D" was not going to manage a response that day.

And so, our friend left.

For the next several days, "D" could think of little else.

How could personal purpose be connected to work we are meant to do?

But, it would appear, "D" is not alone.

For centuries, explorers have depended on the North Star to navigate when no other landmarks are in sight. Would you believe the same relationship exists in terms of aligning your choice of work to your personal purpose? Without that fixed point in the sky to follow, your internal compass will always be flawed and faulty - no matter who or what organization you work for.

Following your passion gets a helluva lot easier once you figure out what that passion is. In some respects, pinpointing your passion can be as elusive as trying to catch a butterfly on a windy day without a net while blindfolded.

But, times have changed.

And while you may not have a net this week, you do have the web.

Would you like to saddle up with us this week and remove the blindfold?

And find out where "D" is going?

Until tomorrow.

"You've got to find what you love. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do"

p.s... Another friend of ours, Ken MacLeod, discovered a North Star years ago with the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra. You should see what they're up to tonight.

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