Recently Jim Collins was featured on a great podcast where he explained how to deploy yourself in the world. A lot of us struggle in our 20’s (and other ages) to get clarity about how to deploy ourselves in the world. Where do we work? What do we do? Is all work supposed to make you feel dead inside?
No one is a stranger to the fact that school is structured in a way where you’re never exposed to life. Life isn’t anything like school. It’s incredibly ambiguous and maybe that’s why we all seek structure through job titles and preexisting companies. We rely on them to guide us. We rely on them to be significantly more than they were designed to be and it’s no wonder we’re left confused and frustrated when we try to use a broken compass to sail across the Atlantic.
It’s like you’re trying to navigate a cave with no flashlight or map. You’re stuck going through the motions like 2/3 of the workforce.
Today I challenge you to think about life differently. Think about getting a job differently. In fact if you use this approach, I’m almost 100% positive that if you follow it, you won’t be able to say ‘that approach didn’t get me any closer to who I was destined to be’. It’s different from the other tools and resources in the market that try to categorize and classify you into a system of shapes. No one is a perfectly cut out circle, rectangle, or square so why would you expect to be happy with just any generic job title?
In the book Good to Great by Jim Collins, he explains The Hedgehog Concept. The biggest hurdle we all have is to simplify down. We need to focus on one or a few very big things and make very disciplined decisions over time. These will accumulate and begin to build very real results. If you want bigger legs and you expect to make the biggest gains by playing basketball everyday you need to rethink your strategy. Focus on lifting heavy weights with your legs instead of taking on a bunch of unnecessary, additional movements. Eventually this integrates into the flywheel effect.
- Do what you’re deeply passionate about. If you’re not passionate about it you won’t be able to endure long enough to really do something exceptional. This is the type of thing that makes you say, “I hope I live longer because I really love doing this”.
- What can you be the best in the world at? What are you encoded for? It doesn’t mean you have to be the biggest in the world at what you do. It can be something very niche like having a pottery shop conjoined with a bakery in a small town by the mountains. It’s never going to be the biggest store of its kind but it will be the best in the world at what it does. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to be the best in the world at what you do, then we’d only have one astronaut. It means find your sweet spot. You could be a mediocre tax accountant or you could be the tax accountant all the technology CEO’s call because you specialize in maximizing their performance packages and benefits.
- What drives your economic engine or do you have an economic engine and do you know how it works? What is your best vehicle for generating revenue? Where is the sweet spot?
The Force Multiplier: Your energy will naturally gravitate to these 3 and it will sync up for the highest possible return on investment provided you bring consistent effort to the table.
Don’t think of life in terms of careers. Find your hedgehog and focus on really building flywheel momentum with it over time.
The Flywheel Effect
Think of a massive wheel that you’re trying to turn and it’s so hard to push that you’re hardly moving it at all. Eventually when you continually push and push and work so hard to make it move you build momentum. This momentum makes it easier and easier to push. It becomes so easy to push that somebody comes up and asks you how did you do this? What was the one secret push that made it all happen?
It was not a result of any single push but a cumulative effort of thousands of pushes that made this massive wheel turn. When you prepare for this dip in the short term, you’re determined to keep pushing to make it succeed. Otherwise, it’s back to square 1.
This wheel is a metaphor to explain great businesses, your job search, and more. Nothing great was accomplished with even a few really good actions. It took a mountain of decisions, actions, and constant pushing that made it all come together.
What are you encoded for?
What you’re encoded for is different than what you’re good at. Think about what you’re naturally encoded for. I can pickup a basketball and hit some 3-point shots but then I look at Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant and I can just tell they were wired to play basketball. They found their true calling. If you were to pickup and practice 3 different things this weekend which one would you excel the most at? What subjects came easier to you in school? What do your friends or family frequently ask you about because you’re the perceived expert?
Naturally, the world will try to force your perspective back to job titles. Sales, rep, professor, etc. I remember I saw a job posting once for a ‘Director of Coffee Rotation’ at Whole Foods and thought wow what a unique and interesting job title. The truth is, the only way to paint a masterpiece is to start with a blank canvas.
People like coloring in between the lines. It’s structured, it’s safe, it’s respectable, and it’s risk-free! What more could you ask for?? It turns out happiness trumps all of these. Fulfilling work trumps all of them.
You must make decisions based on your 3 circles. They may or may end up being a traditional job title but you must start with YOU, not the job titles. You will spend your whole life searching versus taking a calculated, accurate shot at what you LOVE doing.
You must study yourself very carefully, creating notes where you’re observing yourself scientifically. When you do this you start to find patterns you can easily identify and it all starts to add up.
For example, I used to work at a Fortune 50 corporation and while it was a great learning experience I realized I loathed sitting in repetitive, senseless meetings daily no matter how much they were paying me. But I also figured out that I liked something I did while working there. I had to give a detailed presentation during training one day on how some advanced storage system worked and I enjoyed it a lot. I appreciated the ability to be able to take a complex subject and explain it to people.
People who’ve transferred into a job and profession that they love immediately know they’re home when it happens. They know that they will be doing some form of it for the rest of their lives.
Who do you value?
Pay attention to people you value highly whether it was when you were growing up or now. Why do you value them? What characteristics stuck out? What resonated with you? Draw out specifically what element and qualities made you appreciate and gravitate to them.
This is Only The Beginning
This is just the first step, this is a mere blueprint in breaking free and finding work that really matters.
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