Careers are a funny thing. You’re given an idea that there’s some set of hurdles to clear, boxes to check, and hills to climb – and if you do them, you get to the next step. But, what is the next step? If you look to the left and to the right, you’ll see peers, colleagues, and friends. And they’re running the same “race” you are. You might be tempted to compare yourself to them. Do they have a better title? Maybe, more scope? Higher budget?
But, this a game you can’t win. Took me a while to figure it out. How did I arrive at this epiphany? I figured out what losing looks like. So, let me tell you what losing looks like and then you’ll know if where you are is where you should be.
Are You Learning?: If you’re not learning something new, something that makes you think differently, something that teaches you a new skill, something that makes you reconsider what you think you know, or if you’re not learning how to problem solve differently…you’re not where you should be.
Are You Appreciated? If you don’t feel a sense of gratitude from those you work with or a sense that what you do matters and makes a difference, you’re not where you should be.
Are You Miserable?: When you come home and talk to your spouse, significant other, mother, father, friend, dog, or pet rock, are the first words out of your mouth, “today, you’ll never believe what my boss did”; or, “I hate my boss…”…well, you’re not where you should be.
That’s it. Simple. Well, as simple as it’s going to get. Why those three? No clue. This isn’t a McKinsey deck, where I’m going to show you how I looked at 1,000 different models and arrived at this one. These three came about over time. After 20+ years of great companies, great managers, and great opportunities; and more importantly bad leaders, mean leaders, narrow opportunities, rudderless organizations these rose to the top as constant reminders of when I was the most lost.
But, while not a Big 6 Consulting model, every person I’ve mentored, career-counseled, seems to think it works. It’s also helped me stay objective. Maybe, you don’t like the work you’re doing or the initiative you’re being asked to lead. But, are you learning? Is the work you’re doing appreciated? Are you miserable?
To be clear, bummed is not miserable. Disappointed, is not miserable. Irritated, is not miserable. Getting into a disagreement with your boss, is not miserable. Miserable goes beyond all of those.
So, again, I ask you – are you learning, are you appreciated, and are you miserable? Because, if you are, you aren’t where you should be.