Two questions

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…

  1. What drives you?
  2. What is your 1%?




6 thoughts on “Two questions”

  1. Some would say that I have a career, because I work in a professional field with a growing agency and I have moved up in the agency over the years. But, it is just a job to me. It bores the crap out of me sometimes and I only keep with it because I know that the odds of finding another job that pays as much are very low. My goal is to get my husband through college, get him a good job that pays well and has good benefits. Then, I can try to find a job that motivates me, even if it means taking a pay cut.
    My sister is a social worker for Jackson county school system. I envy the purpose that her job has.

    Probably no secret, but what drives me is writing. My dream is to one day be paid for something I’ve written. Even if it is only $5!
    I don’t know if writing is my 1% yet. But I am working on it most every day.

    1. Good jobs are hard to find, but I believe that finding your passion is one of the hardest things for many of us. I have also learned that just because its your passion doesn’t mean that it can be your profession. In some cases we have a job to support whatever our passion really is and that is definitely ok.

      I love your writing by the way Amy. Your posts make me chuckle. A lot of 1%-ers being successful is simply believing that they are 1%-ers.

  2. Stevie….once again “Why do you get up in the morning?”

    as a father…you are clear
    as a husband…you are clear
    as a friend…you are clear
    as a member of your church…you are clear
    as a lover of sports…you are clear

    what about how you help others?
    what about how you generate an income?
    what about your purpose, mission, passion?

    be cautious about the 1% analogy or metaphor

    there may be 8.5 % unemployment
    at the same time that means there is 91.5% employment from just doing my job to doing it well to doing it at the top 10% to 1%

    remember the story about 3 men laying bricks many years ago.

    A stranger asked each one of them what are you doing?

    first said, I am building this stupid wall

    second said, I am building a wall, it is my job, it is how I provide for my family

    third said, I am “helping” to build a cathedral that will inspire people to God for eternity.

    many people fit in the “third” group but are not nor ever will be 1% people.

    1. In talking about 1% I am trying to point people to their strongest natural ability, whether that is their parenting, typing, or window washing. Especially in this tough economic climate it is important that we all take a look an inventory our personal skills. In my opinion that “third” group may be third simply because they are not applying whatever their 1% is to the proper field.

  3. Stevie, this is definitely something I’m dealing with right now, as I enter my second month of unemployment from a field I could certainly live without. That field, while interesting, takes up so much time that I can’t pursue any other interests, and that’s not fulfilling to me at all. So, I’m exploring other options, but I’ve never been able to pin down my passion, or my true skills. Or, more specifically, I have some ideas, but I have no idea how to get people to pay me to do those things!

    It’s shocking to realize that I’ve made it to 35 with nothing to show for it. I’m certain I have to make some changes, but I’m not even sure what those changes are. Good for you for finding something and sticking with it! I’m eager to read about your ongoing speaking adventures!

    1. I am sure you have a little more than “nothing to show for it”. The thing that really sucks about a career is that it totally sucks you in. Most people want to do well as well as most of us resist change, so before we know it we have been at the job forever and really don’t know how it happened. Some people are lucky to hit a home run career wise on the first pitch. And others are brave enough to try to find something great while they are still in the safe haven of their old job. In my case and yours, it is being thrust upon us. I still really don’t know what a professional speaker/consultant does. That’s the first part of this process for me, learning about the business and seeing if my love for running my mouth can balance out the rigors of the “job”.

      As far as your skills go and finding your passion, if you are interested I have some projects that have helped me and that at least get your mind flowing of potential new ideas.

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