Notes from the Field: Finding Your “Right Work”

If you have not lost your job, it’s likely you are in fear that you will. If you have lost your job recently, I truly understand the pain you are feeling, I have been there.

In the 1990’s, I was a CFO in a Fortune 500 company until 9:30 one morning, when the phone rang and I was summoned to the executive suite to learn that my job had just been eliminated.

I was shocked and stunned; but it turned out to be the best possible thing that has happened to me in this life. It caused me, with a substantial amount of pain over several years, to discover who I really was, and then to go out and find the right work for me.

Today my national consulting firm, which I started in 2000, has over 500 consultants. Many of these consultants are recent refugees from corporate professional, managerial, and executive jobs. I also speak each year to hundreds of people in transition.

Here is a short recap of the insights and reflections that I share with them on how they can go forward and find their right work:

  • I suggest that you are not looking for a job; you are looking for a way to work and live..
  • Share what you love to do, who you love to work with, how you help others achieve what they want – frequently.
  • You might begin to believe it yourself.
  • It might also change over time! In fact, bet on it. Keep notes; this history will be important.
  • Pay attention to people’s reactions. Listen carefully. Don’t assume you understand their assumptions.
  • Ask them, from where they sit, what opportunities they see for you.
  • Ask people you know what they think you are good at. It might be different than what you think.
  • When you hear something that intrigues you, go explore it.
  • When people tell you to go do something, you should probably do it.
  • I was told to go do public speaking on my one-page plan idea. I was terrified of public speaking. Turned out to be the smartest thing I did. It resulted in the creation of books, software, and a business with more than 500 licensed consultants.
  • In some ways, the nuggets of what I do today have been around for a long time. I just could not see them. I wonder what’s right in front of you that you can’t see. Start looking!
  • Email can be your friend; it can also be your enemy. Have at least five breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee dates a week. You need to be in front of real, live people.
  • Building a business or career is one and the same. At this point, frankly, it does not matter whether you end up with a W-2 or a 1099 at the end of the year.
  • Nobody builds a career or business by themselves. It takes a community! Be active in your communities. Be in service of others.
  • Zig Ziglar says, “The key to building a successful business is to help enough other people build their business; they will build yours.” I say the same is true about finding your right work.
  • Make networking a way of life, show up in logical places, meet everyone you can, ask what’s happening in their industry, be a great source of referrals.
  • There is power and magic in the written word. Capture your intellectual property in writing. You will look smarter in print! It will also lead to greater personal insights.
  • Freely share what you know in public forums; speak and grow rich!
  • Don’t be a lone ranger or rangerette; the successful always know lots of other successful people, and they learn from each other.
  • Ask lots of questions; assume you don’t know the answers. The power is in asking questions, not knowing all the answers.
  • I have been paid handsomely for all of my pro-bono work! Give freely; it will come back ten-fold.
  • Everyone has a plan; the successful always have theirs in writing.
  • I’ve learned I am not smart enough to know who I am supposed to meet.
  • The community buys the products and services it wants and needs, always from the right sources. Be the right source.
  • Celebrate the successes, big and small, frequently. The journey is long.
  •  You will know when you have found the right work. You will smile much more frequently.