Work With Your Head And Your Heart

You can tell when people are in the right job. Conversely, you can also tell when people are in the wrong occupation, or perhaps when the person who was in the right job has lost something and should really move on. So what is it that makes a job right or wrong? In short, you need to have both your head and your heart in the work you do.

By, ‘your heart’, I refer to your passion or love for the work you do. It is this love that will get you through the hard times by delving deep into your reserves, pushing you to deliver more and succeeding. It is this love for the work you do that will have you seen to have a smile on your face and some energy in your actions as you go through your day.

By, ‘your head’, I refer to your knowledge, education, experience; in short, your know-how. This the training you’ve had, the skills you bring to the work you do and the focus you have during the time you’re on the job.

So the best people are in positions where they love what they do and they’ve got the skills, education, experience and general know-how which complement each other. I’m extremely confident you’ve experienced people that have one or the other but not both.

Take the person who as the heart to do the work but not the other. Here you’ll see someone who really wants to succeed, who tries hard, who is honestly doing their best because they really believe in what they’re doing. Unfortunately without the skills, education and experience behind them, they falter. They may not have the knowledge required to perform well. When you see a job posting requiring a certain degree of education and several year’s experience, the employer is attempting to make sure that the applicants they meet bring with them the, ‘head’ part of the two elements.

The opposite is just as common; people who have the skills, experience and ability to do the work, but who lack passion and heart for it. These people frustrate employers to no end because employers know just how amazing they could be if they’d just put more passion into their work. However, when it’s not there to begin with, no one can manufacture heart and desire; it has to come from the person and it has to come from within.

Now an interesting thing that many of us lose sight of is that we all evolve and grow; the result of which can be that the love and passion we once had for the work we do, can evaporate and depart. No doubt you’ve seen this too. The person who has lost their spark, seems to be doing just enough to get by but isn’t pouring any more of themselves into their work than the minimum required in order to get by.

I know some people who have lost their passion and love for what they once did and haven’t replaced that with something new. These are sometimes the folks that are trying to figure out what’s next in their working life, but who have yet to have anything really excite them enough to pursue it. You can find them all over the internet in chat forums, where they comment with negativity and cynicism – although they’ll pitch it as reality. It’s not that they want to be cynical or negative; they’ve just become jaded in their view of work. These people often have skewed views on employers, supervisors and management in general.

When your head and your heart are in the work you do or the work you’re pursuing, your days are more enjoyable, you’re happier in general and others can tell. Outside the workplace, these are the people who light up when asked about their jobs, who smile and are happy to speak of what they do because of the satisfaction they feel and the purpose in what they do. They can cite successes and our reaction is typically to say things like, “Wow, it sounds like that job is perfect for you”; and it is.

However, there are still many people who feel work is just work. It’s toil for money and employer’s just want zombie-like staff who perform work unquestionably. Often it’s their own experiences that have them making sweeping statements in which employees are not valued, management pushes to get the most out of their people and do so without care or regard for the staff. Watch out for these people; they truly believe what they say and they can sour your own outlook if you aren’t prepared.

Ah, but find someone with both their head and their heart in the work they do and you’ll be fortunate to have that person serve you. Whether it’s in a coffee shop, a manufacturers’ warehouse, looking down a microscope or up a birth certificate, that employee will be a joy to have around. How you experience working alongside your co-worker will often come down to whether or not they have both their head and their heart in the work they do.

Now me personally? I’m always on the lookout for these people, and what’s more, when I find them, I do two things; point it out as a compliment and do what I can to work closer with them.

May you find work you invest in with both your head and your heart.

Bang Away Or Find The Right Fit

Have you ever left a job under poor circumstances and vowed to make a fresh start with another employer; one where no one knows you – only to find that things turn out pretty much the same in a short time?

Despite the change in scenery, co-workers, supervisor and job, things just haven’t changed all that much. You’re starting to wonder if every job is going to be like this? You’re questioning how all these people you work with can like going in day after day with a smile on their face? When it goes wrong in multiple places, in various kinds of jobs, the common denominator keeps coming up… well, you.

Now wait! That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ‘THE PROBLEM’. Nor does it always have to be this way.

Recall the toddler toy where there’s a bunch of wooden or plastic, brightly coloured shapes, and there’s a corresponding cut out of a shape into which the piece fits. Watch a child at place and try all they want, that red triangle won’t go into the yellow square or the blue circle hole. Eventually, the toddler figures it out and looks up with a big smile at what they’ve both achieved and learned in the process.

As you continue to watch, when all the pieces are removed again, the toy becomes a little easier to play and takes less time to solve. The child also will look around and call attention to their success by saying, “Watch me!” In so doing, they want to show off what they’ve learned and get rewarded with a, “Good for you!”

If you haven’t taken the necessary time to get to know yourself fully – and people evolve and change with the passing of time – you might not be a problem, you just haven’t found the right fit yet. Now that single block is easy to figure out; it’s shape and colour. There’s an easily recognized corresponding shape and colour slot too. Assessing your strengths, preferences, skills, experience, education, attitude, areas for improvement, learning style – these are some of the things which make you who you are. Networking, online research, investigating company culture, reading job postings, interviewing people in the jobs you find interesting, checking out the commute, the dress code, the vision, mission statement etc. of companies as well as their reputations; these make up the research which provides the information you need to assess the likelihood of a good fit.

Here’s the problem; most people assume they know themselves and don’t want to bother putting out a lot of effort in researching companies they might not even apply to. That seems like a lot of work and with very little reward; a waste of time. But what’s a greater waste of time is not bothering with these two critical steps and going through a cycle of applying, getting hired, fired, applying again, getting rejected, finally getting interviews, rejected, still applying, finally getting another interview, getting hired and quitting, or leaving under poor circumstances. It’s like that toddler just banging pieces into the wrong slots and expecting the piece to go in. It’s not the toy that’s at fault, it’s just that reasoning things out hasn’t happened yet at the child’s end. There will always be a perfect fit for each piece.

Likewise, there will always be a perfect fit for you with respect to a job and an employer. Sure you can jump from job to job and hope the fit is good, but more often than not, it will appear that way at first and soon become obvious to the company you’re not the right person for the job, or to you that the job isn’t the right fit for you.

So how much time do you have to invest just randomly moving from job to job? With each bad fit and failure, are you learning anything or just writing off bad experiences and taking nothing away you can learn next time? Be cautious! These series of failures can lead you to develop a short fuse; a bad attitude; a ‘me against the world’ attitude. The person you turn out to be could be very different from the person you were meant to be; a darker, less attractive soul who others want to be around less and less. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

When a child struggles to understand how the pieces get inside, another child or adult who has mastered the concept will take a piece and slowly slide it in the corresponding hole and not letting go, move it back and forth then drop it. The child watching may have to be shown a few times, but they’ll get it. The new learning is shortly mastered and the toy eventually becomes a, ‘Time how long it takes me to do this!” challenge; it’s easier.

This is no different from getting help figuring out the self-assessment piece of who you really are in the here and now. You can also get help learning how to do employer research too. When you know yourself fully and seek out the best fits, you actually speed up the time between where you are now and being employed where you should be. In the right situation, you’re not a problem at all; you’re a success with a big smile on your face. Soon you’ll want everyone around you to view your achievements too.

Finding A Job Is Like Finding A Spouse

One of my regular readers made the comment that she would be cautious about advising others to try a variety of jobs for fear of being branded a, “Job Hopper”. This was in response to my belief that trying out a variety of jobs when you are young is a good idea in order to get experience and find what you like and dislike.

It strikes me that there is a strong similarity between trying to find the job or career that is perfect for you and trying to find the perfect person to go through life with. While I agree that many people go through life happily single, most have dated or contemplated our perfect partner. Look at finding a job and a partner, and see if you too don’t see the similarities.

For starters, I imagine it’s rare these days for a teenager in the developed world to be advised to only date the person they will spend the rest of their life with. While that happens, more often than not people go through a number of relationships. When we hit our 20’s, we may be more careful, and even if we are still experimenting, we know those we date might be looking for longer term commitments – or a life-long commitment. You might have friends or family trying to help you find the right partner too. They’ll look for people who will meet your needs and be a good fit; the criteria for that being whatever they have learned is important to you in a partner.

So now is finding the perfect job much different? Well, it’s possible but hardly likely you will be advised that your first job as a young teenager is where you will work until you retire. You’d be wise to try different jobs, think about what makes you happy learn some skills, discover new jobs. Then as you get into your 20’s there comes a little more self-imposed pressure on some people to narrow down all the jobs in the world to a few, and eventually determine a career path.

You see defining a career path or field in which to work is hard unless you’ve done a little research, perhaps talked to others doing the jobs now, or possibly even tried the jobs as a coop student or intern. A job that seems like a fit might turn out to have aspects to it that don’t sit well with you after taking it, and you might quit that job and try another. Rather than job-hopping, this process helps you learn about yourself more than it does the jobs themselves. You’re gaining knowledge and perspective that future employers are going to benefit from.

In my own case, I was in my 40’s when I started being an Employment Counsellor. This job is an ideal fit for someone with my background. However, one reason I’m an effective Employment Counsellor is because of the path I took to get here. I’ve worked in Retail, Recreation, Social Services, Municipal and Provincial Government, been self-employed, worked in the not-for-profit and profit sectors too. All those experiences help me when speaking with others because I can look at things from a wider view – often the view of the person I’m helping.

Had I only come right from school in my early 20’s and taken the same job I have now, I may or may not be effective, but I’d have some growing to do as an individual to gain the perspective and insights I have now. I obtained those insights from doing other things.

And finding the perfect partner? You could get lucky like my wife and find your life-long spouse with the first person you date – it does happen. Or you could as in my case, date a few different people in your youth and then find the right person. Either way, don’t you hope that both your job and your partner bring you happiness, and that you find yourself invested in both?

Now some would carry this analogy further and say that you can lose interest in both a job and a partner and need a change. I suppose that’s true – however I’d counter that I’ve never agreed to stay together for better or worse with an employer forever! Fortunately, I’ve just celebrated 32 years of marriage in August, but 32 years in one job is something I’ll never accomplish.

My point here is really that zeroing in on the right job has some similarities to finding your partner. Is it exactly the same process? No. Should you fall in love with someone and go all goofy with your heart leaping with every phone call, your every waking moment thinking of them – that’s not likely to be your work experience. That being said, if you are waiting after being interviewed to get THE CALL, you can be just as excited and then jump around the room when you get offered the job. So maybe it is similar.

Consider auditioning different jobs as learning experiences. Sure you don’t want a reputation as a Job Hopper, but you don’t have to sit and wait for the perfect job to fall in your lap either. After all, employers want experience don’t they? How are you going to be ready with your experience if you don’t do other things in the meantime?

Position yourself to be ready when the right person and/or job, comes along!