When I lost my job on January 8 I was shocked and really had no idea what I was going to do. Here I was becoming a statistic of an ever increasing unemployment rate. The most important thing at that moment was the support my wife gave me. She was such a calming force and in my corner from day one. Financially I knew we would be OK with only her salary and unemployment benefits, but that doesn’t satisfy my own inner desires to be a productive member of society.
As I started to look at my resume and examine my life skills I came to a startling conclusion…
I had done a horrible job of MAKING a career. What I had done for most of my life had been totally reactionary. When I needed a job, I looked for one and took what seemed to be the best thing at the time. That process had produced some fairly good results as I had performed very well at most of the positions that I held as an adult. But when I looked at my skills with a honest and objective eye I really saw that I really had very little input into the last 15 years of work. Or to be more accurate, I had not succeed or failed at a career plan because I did not have a career plan.
So now what?
One of the things that a friend asked me when we were discussing potential careers was “What gets you up in the morning?”. Some would say “What drives/motivates you?”. As I stared blindly back at him I wondered to myself why didn’t I have an easy answer. Now to further explain this moment we were specifically talking about careers. My faith and family are my driving factors for living my life, but I didn’t have a true professional passion. I often admired my friends that always wanted to be doctors, lawyers, and film makers. The only thing that I always wanted to do was be a good dad. And at that moment it struck me.
I have long lamented that one of the downfalls of American society revolves around the absentee fathers. There are so many single mothers raising children and not enough families truly planning for their success. In my own story there are several examples of not having a father around. My father has 6 children by 5 different women. My younger half brother (on my mother’s side) had a limited relationship with his father. In my neighborhood as a child, not having dad around was the rule rather than the exception. Could it be that what drives me and where my professional heart lies is in speaking to fathers who did not have fathers?
Another thing that I have been looking at as I search my previous job and life skills is identifying what I do best. I am an avid sports fan and most professional athletes are what I refer to as “1 percenters”, meaning that they were born gifted in the top 1% of people with skill in their particular sport. Many of them combined that with countless hours of work to become stars. But 1 percenters don’t just exist in sports. The business world is littered with people who just seem to get it. We see singers, musicians, accountants, carpenters all with what appears to be a natural aptitude toward their particular profession. Undoubtedly there are those that just learned to be good at a craft over years and others that are gifted in many areas. I believe that God gives all of us specific talents that he expects us to do something with. But yet again there is that question, “what is my 1%?”.
For those of you who do not know me personally, I love to talk. And throughout the last few years I have discovered that I am pretty good at talking to the public. But being pretty good and being a 1% performer are two different things. As much as I wanted to believe I was any good, the only feedback I had was friends, family, and my toastmasters club. But slowly over the weeks and months I started to perform outside my comfort zone. It all finally crystalized for me at the area j international speech contest. I finally delivered a speech that I felt was a 1% speech. It still needed a ton of work, but it was finally something I really felt was good.
Ladies and gentleman I hope you are in a fullfilling career that makes you happy and challenges you. But I know that most of us are not. What’s the next step in the process? A good place to start is with these two simple questions…
- What drives you?
- What is your 1%?