Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Jobs are like outfits...

I realized recently that children out grow things. Okay, an obvious if not late revelation considering my daughter was already 5 years old, but bear with me. What do we do when a child out grows an outfit? Typically, we transfer it to new ownership. It gets handed down to a younger family member, donated to a cause, or sold on Craig's List. One way or another, if the outfit is still in fairly good condition, it is found a new owner.

Now, let's examine what happened here.

The outfit was a great purchase. It definitely looked good on the kid for a satisfactory period of time. But the child grew (who would have thunk it) and that great outfit just doesn't fit like it use to. "Still," says the frugal Dad "we can get a few more wears out of it." Besides, it's become a part of the kid's whole image. Inevitably, the outfit fits like it was stolen from a toddler and it's got to go. It just doesn’t fit its owner anymore.

Now the revelation: Jobs are like outfits. You get one and it's a great fit. Good hours, good compensation, good commute. But then you begin to feel that proverbial draft around your ankles. This outfit just doesn't fall on you like it use to. What happened? Through lifestyle changes and the realization of values, dreams and passions, you outgrew it, that's what.

Let's be clear here, much like that kid's outfit, this job of yours is still a pretty good find. More than likely you've taken pretty good care of it over the years. The job isn't the problem. You plus the job is the problem. It would look fantastic on someone else.

I know too few people who have discovered some version of this philosophy. Fewer still who have acted upon it once discovered—especially in this troubled economy. But look, the current job climate is rough, yes. Jobs are being shed by the hundreds, true and most unfortunate. Those who are still employed today seem to operate ever aware of an axe looming over their head brandishing a name crudly carved into the handle: "The Layoffer." It could drop and seal the fate of their employment status at any moment.

But let us ask ourselves and answer honestly, without passion or prejudice; at what point in our careers was such a threat not present?

Most of us are well aware of that friendly policy our company brought to our attention back when we were hired. You know the one about how you can be let go at any time for any reason. If you don't know, believe me, it's there. And it always has been.

That doesn't make light of today's job market, nor is that my intention. The point is, considering that The Layoffer axe isn't new—the threat was always there we're just reminded of its presence—are we going to keep walking around miserable in an outfit that just doesn't fit anymore for the sake of being dressed? Or are we going to spend whatever time we can muster to define those personality tendencies, skills and abilities, values, dreams and passions and don a job perfect for who we've become? One in which we can truly excel and add near indispensable value to our employer.

That employer might even be the person in the mirror. [Not your wives guys, the other person.]

For the sake of our families and futures, finding the outfit that's right for you is the answer, no matter what the economy. For some great fashion tips (have I killed this metaphor yet?), check out Dan Miller's blog at http://48daysblog.wordpress.com/.

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