Before we jump in, thank you all for the AWESOME list of 100+ tech tools and counting!! You still have two days to enter to win the HP Envy 4 Laptop giveaway, so share your best tip or tool by Friday, and I'll choose a winner early next week. I'm also giving away THREE (count them, three!) of The Work Revolution, the must-read book featured in today's post, by my roommate and bestie Julie Clow.
The personal scoop on today's post
Julie and I have been friends for almost six years now after first meeting by sharing a cube at Google during her first few months on the job, and both of us made the big leap out to New York at this exact time last year.
I had front-row seats for every step of Julie's book-publishing process (and her for mine), from writing her proposal to getting a book deal through the back-channels at Wiley (and only then landing an agent to close the deal), to the tireless and seemingly non-stop task of bringing the book to life through speaking and social media, aided at every step by the help of fabulous people like Sarah Bloomfield (on writing and research) and Shannyn Allen (on promotion).
Julie has always been an advocate (and often a lone ranger in the blog world) for the notion that you don't have to quit to love your job, and her book beautifully articulates how we can all create a thriving work environment, no matter your state of employment.
The Work Revolution came out in April, and I'm thrilled to hand Julie the floor today to share her brilliant ideas and the book's key concepts, all of which are highly applicable regardless of whether you're an employee, manager or your own boss.
But first . . . a few words from today's sponsor (okay, just me) in this 3-minute video:
How to Find Your Perfect Work -- by Julie Clow
I love my job and where I work. I am lucky -- most people don't.
Most people show up feeling like a cog in the machine, churning out work from 9:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night (or worse, far later), with hopes of one day receiving a promotion, a pay increase for acknowledgement of a job well done, or enough money saved to retire.
Sadly, many people live their lives with a sense that something (big) is missing without any idea about what that might be.
Some courageous individuals reject this existence by leaving their corporate jobs, and many do so successfully. But not everyone should feel like opting out of the corporate world is the only answer.
I wrote the book The Work Revolution: Freedom and Excellence for All to question the assumptions behind our management practices. It's about changing the world of work to free individuals to solve problems for the company. It's about ditching the rules that creative oppressive work environments and replacing the rules with guiding principles that give people more autonomy and joy in what they do.
Regardless of the choice you make about whether to brave the entrepreneurial world or to make the most of the corporate world, it is fully in your control to find your perfect work, perfectly suited to your passions and strengths.
The five principles below can guide anyone anywhere to search for work that feels more like play, whether within the cubicle walls or out in the wild.
1. Impact, not Activities
Don't think about what you want to be or what you want to do, think about the kind of impact you want to create and for whom!
2. The Right Things, not Everything
Once you choose a direction for your career, you will be overwhelmed with advice about what major to choose, what degrees to get, what internships you should seek, and what experience is "critical" for landing the perfect job.
We get a lot of pressure coming from many directions to do "everything" according to script.
The script said that I should go to the best college I could get in to, and that Google doesn't hire anyone from less-than-top-tier universities. Well, I went off script. I attended the University of Mobile (yes, that's in Alabama, renowned for its world-class education - ha!), but did so on a full scholarship (important to me as I had a two-year old daughter). Sure, it wasn't the most challenging school, but I made the most of it and earned a 4.0 and top honors in my class. And Google hired me.
3. Energy, not Schedules
Follow the energy of the work that excites you, and throw away any time table or schedule that suggests when you "should" hit various milestones in your career.
For example, a career myth I recently heard from recent graduates is to be in a role or company for two years, and then move on, presumably to get varied experience and to not get "stuck" in any role. From my perspective, you can hardly get acquainted with a new role in just one year, so that means you'd only be creating impact for one of those two years! I say ditch any role that's not working for you, even if it's after two weeks. Or conversely, stick to a role or company as long as you are growing, you can find challenges, and you love what you are doing, even if that's 20 years. Let your choices by guided by the energy you get from your work.
4. Strengths, not Job Slots
You might be hired into a narrow job role, but you should think about how you can use your strengths in that role to expand beyond it.
Jim Collins recently delivered the keynote at the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) International Conference, and he spoke about "personal hedgehogs" (any fans of Good to Great will recognize the concept). He translated the organizational-centric notion to something that applies to individuals; it is the intersection of:
- the things you are passionate about
- the things you are "genetically coded" to do (i.e., the things that come so easy to you, but seem difficult to everyone else)
- the things that add value or are valued by society
The convergence of these three things point to your marketable strengths and should serve as your guiding light for how you frame your value to your organization or in your business.
5. Grassroots, not Top-Down
Don't wait for permission or invitation to do the things you are passionate about.
If you see an opportunity to improve your organization, don't just make the suggestion, implement the solution. When you find work that excites you, find ways to do more of it. If you have an idea for a new business or product, test it out quickly and see if it works.
If you learn to be a leader without explicit authority, people will inevitably recognize you as such, and greater opportunities will follow. But if you wait for someone on high to grant you the opportunity to do more, you just might be waiting forever.
These five principles will mean different things to different people, which is why they are simply principles. For each one, think about how it applies to your situation and how you might change one little thing to create more perfect work for yourself. And while the quest to define our personal mission and then deliver on it is a lifetime journey, the journey itself can (and should!) be joyful.
How to Enter to Win a Copy of The Work Revolution
We're giving away three copies of Julie's book today, and you can enter to win by answering the question prompt in the comments below. Leave your reply by Sunday, September 9 at 5pm ET, and we'll announce the winners on the blog next week!
Which of the 5 principles above would make the biggest impact on your overall satisfaction and/or effectiveness at work? What is one action you will commit to taking in the next week?
More About Julie Clow
All my life, I loved learning and school, so I followed an academic path and earned my Ph.D. in behavior analysis in 2000. I spent the first eight years of my career dutifully working in traditional corporate environments developing training programs and implementing organizational initiatives for various clients. Then, I joined Google in 2006 and everything changed. During my initial transition to Google, I felt the magic of freedom and autonomy at work, which inspired me to ask: if Google can create this environment, why can't everyone else? Thus, The Work Revolution was born.
I spent five years at Google focusing on team effectiveness, leadership, and organizational culture, primarily for engineers. I currently serve as the head of learning and development for an awesome, nontraditional mid-size investment management company in New York, NY, also chockful of software engineers and research scientists.You can frequently find me speaking at industry events and conferences. Connect with me on Twitter at @clowjul.