Know Thyself

If you’re thinking about making a job or career change, the first step is to “know thyself.” I can’t help you figure that out in a letter, but I can give you a one-minute formula to help get you started:

  • G + P + V = your calling.
  • The G stands for your gifts; the P is for passion; and the V equals values. Taken together, they add up to the one thing you love so much that you would do it for free. How do you think about that? First, look at your gifts. I’ve done strength assessments for more than 30 years, and I can attest that all of us are born with certain core talents. Whether it’s creating, or collaborating, or leading, you know your strengths, and chances are, your spouse, or even a trusted colleague, knows them too. Next, think about what you’re passionate about. To paraphrase Aristotle: Where your talents and your passions cross, therein lies your calling. If you use your gifts on something that you feel passionate about, you’ll put yourself on a pathway to finding your life’s work.

    But there’s a third component to this formula: your values, which is really a code word for environment. People instinctively seek an environment where they know that they will have a full voice in matters of consequence. A place where they don’t feel constricted, where they don’t have to check themselves at the door. Such a work environment lets them breathe life into their gifts and passions. If you don’t find an environment that feeds your soul, all you’re left with is a paycheck.

You may think that finding your calling is an unaffordable luxury in a tough business environment. I couldn’t disagree more. Excellence is a survival skill, and excellent performers know their core strengths and passions, which they leverage in environments that honor their values. Put them up against people who simply work for status and a paycheck, and who do you think will win?

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