For the first time in years, I did a face to face yoga class on my lunch break last Friday. Our wise teacher offered life navigation tips as we stretched and rebooted our bodies and minds. In sum, she suggested we:
- Live our truth with intention
- Align our actions
- Serve others, and
- Attach to nothing
I’ve spent the past few days applying these concepts to career context. I’m excited to share this six part approach to navigating “work” life optimally.
Part 1– Find your professional “how” AND your “why”. Spend your career [especially early on] trying on many roles, industries, cultures, etc until you start to feel what you’re best suited for and what people you want to navigate with. Take a few leaps.
Not all these projects, roles or colleagues will be fun. Some will be painful, but keep making changes and choices that bring you closer to roles and peers that feel closer to home. Always move toward a truer fit for you. Pause and reflect often on how your evolving “why”, the deeper purpose fueling your efforts, informs your decisions even if it feels financially irrational. Over time, don’t analyze your “how” separate from your “why”. Your mind and heart will be needed for this effort. More tenure and financial stability makes this easier, but you can start seeking your deeper “why” from day one.
My wife’s career “why” acronym is GIFT (Growth, Impact, Flexibility & TEAM aka her family). Mine is BELCH 😂 (Build, Earn, Learn, Connect & High Impact).
What is your career “why” acronym?
Part 2– Over time, align your “how” to serve your “why”. I’ve come to know that building corporate impact (ESG) programs within fast growth tech companies like Snyk is a fulfilling “how” for me. It quenches my true “why” thirst to enable positive impact and outcomes for leaders, organizations and society.
Thus, my “how” and “why” are in sync. I consider my work a calling vs. a job. I’m energized and fulfilled by it. This alignment is magnetic and attracts great souls to the work which enables more positive impact!
Phase 3– Proactively assure that your day to day actions are aligned with your “why”. Connect with people, build strategy, execute work, and assess your progress from a deeper, more connected “why” place. If you operate from a place that isn’t true for you [from inauthenticity] or from a shallow more selfish place, you’ll lose steam or worse. Life’s too short to fake it or sell out at work or in your personal life. It is easier said than done, but possible and worth your effort.
Part 4– Serve and connect with others. Always be inclusive and empathetic when approaching your colleagues, clients, partners, etc. Make your mission an inclusive team sport that practices empathy and connection. Winning alone isn’t a long-term, sustainable success approach.
Keep the lived experience and perspective of others in mind every time you connect or make a decision. If you’re building a movement (not just an organization) that keeps the needs of those you serve top of mind, you’ll succeed and feel more connected getting there.
Sharing your success makes it much sweeter. Connecting deeply with people in your career is a benefit and a necessity for true progress. It makes all the challenging parts of work and life better. Do it!
My wife serves her family, tech sector founders and emerging leaders. Starting a successful executive coaching practice a couple years ago has her “how” and “why” aligned, her client base growing and her feeling fulfilled.
Who do you “serve” in your career?
Part 5– Avoid ego traps. Seeking shallow external validation and trophies may offer short-term adrenaline, but it isn’t a sustainable power-source. Getting too caught up in striving for material or financial gain (or credit) alone may feel energizing, but it won’t last.
Connect your motivation mechanisms, for you or those joining your movement, to the impact you’re enabling for others vs. personal ego gain. Push yourself everyday to be open, authentic and compassionate at work and in your life overall. These are sustainable investments with high multi-faceted ROI.
Part 6– Celebrate your progress without attachment. Weave gratitude and releasing unnecessary attachment into your daily practices and into the systems you construct for others to follow. Climbing “why” mountain without ever looking up at the view is a recipe for burn-out and pain. Remember, nothing is permanent so don’t get too attached to anything (even this article 😊). Learn to appreciate and thrive on change. If your career is grounded in your authentic truth and focused on something bigger than selfish or shallow gain, no storm on the surface (or bad day or short-term career shift) will blow you off your course. If it does, pause and recalibrate. Your deeper “why” will see you through. Storms are lesson bringers. Add the emergence from them to the top of your gratitude list once the sun shines again…and it will!
I’m excited to discuss how you navigate your BEst career.
PS- I took most of these photo’s with my iPhone. They are places that power my BEing in Marin County, CA and the Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe.
Here’s my former Box.org leadership team and I during a hiking strategy offsite on the Steep Ravine Trail in early 2020. The trail map in the header image features this trail on Mount Tam here in Marin County CA. You should hike it and ponder you “why” soon.