In my last post, as well as in a previous post, I talked about meaningful and challenging work as key to staying energized and focused in your job. Though work that is both meaningful and challenging is critical to creating a job you’ll love there are three other ingredients that make up the recipe for your dream job that we need to talk about.
Working for an organization whose mission, core values and culture align with your own calling and values. You may love your work but if you don’t get excited about your organization’s mission, values and culture you don’t have your dream job. Hint – is the organization you’re working for have an articulated mission and values as well as actually living them out? If not, there’s a good chance you won’t aligned with this organization
The people you work with. Though closely related to culture, part of a great job is working with people you like, you respect, who treat you and others with dignity, and help make you both a better professional and a better person. Hint – do you find yourself looking forward to seeing your team after a weekend or a vacation? If not, it maybe because you don’t really like to be around them.
The lifestyle it provides. Does your job provide you the pay, benefits, hours, flexibility, and location to help you have the life style you envision for yourself? It’s more than about salary; it’s about both the tangible and the intangible benefits a job offers that either positively or negatively impacts you and your family. Hint – does your job keep you from doing the things outside of your work you love to do or enable you to do those things? Remember, a full and healthy life outside your job is critical to long-term success in your work.
If you can land in a job where all four of these ingredients come together in the perfect blend, congratulations, you have a dream job. But the truth is life isn’t a dream. We live in a broken world where perfection rarely happens and when it does, it’s usually for a fleeting moment. What that means is there is no perfect job that has all the four ingredients in the exact amounts you’ve always dreamed of.
So even in the best jobs in the world you’ll find that you often have to compromise on one or more of these ingredients. If you can find a job that has the right balance of 3 of the 4 you’ve got a great job. The important issue is to know which of the four ingredients are the most important to you. These are the ones you don’t want to compromise on. You also need to know which ones mean less to you so you can make appropriate trade-offs and assure you have the ingredients you want. For example, if lifestyle issues are your highest value, you may be willing to work with people you don’t particularly like if the job provides you the benefits you want and need.
So know it’s possible to have a great job, one you want to get up for every day and will want to do so for a long time. But it requires knowing what’s most important to you and then never compromising on those values.
When my brother, sister and I were growing up our dad encouraged us to be what he called “mudders”. By mudders he meant being people who were willing to get down in the mud and do the hard work. Every time I heard him say the word mudder I’d have this mental picture of wearing overalls, putting on big rubber boots, and digging a ditch after it rained.
In addition to valuing hard work I believed part of my dad intention was to help us understand that no work was beneath us, even manual, dirty labor, if it adds value to the lives of others.
These two complimentary attitudes – valuing hard work and believing no good work is ever below us – speaks to people at every level in an organization because every job has boring, menial and mundane parts to it. If we approach these parts of our jobs as mudders it encourages us to do this work with both timeliness and quality, and it keeps us from allowing the boring work to drag us down.
Being a mudder is especially critical in customer focused organizations. Because at any given moment one of our staff members can be asked by a customer (they don’t usually care about title and position) for assistance that requires manual or menial work. And of course outstanding customer service requires that staff be willing, with a sincere smile, no matter the job, to help the customer.
More importantly, as leaders, when we’re willing to be mudders, we set an example for everyone in the organization. If we embrace doing the purposeful but menial and dirty work as much as the exciting and challenging work, we help those we lead also become mudders. And a team of mudders doing all the necessary work, including the menial, dirty and mundane jobs assures that all organization’s work gets done and done well.
Saturday night Denise and I had a chance to bring parts of our two families together – our immediate and our SpringHill families. In particular we had 18 members of the SpringHill family from the Indianapolis area join us to watch our daughter Christina dance in her first Butler ballet – The Nutcracker.
We had dinner together at a local Butler hangout, Binkley’s, and then went to the evening show at Clowes Hall on Butler’s campus. For Denise and me the entire evening was a blessing and a blast.
Afterwards I thought about how so many people seek a separation between their work and their personal lives. I understand this desire but not always the degree people can take it.
Because there’s something wonderful (maybe sacred is a better word?) when there’s a healthy integration between our work and personal lives. It’s what Denise and I experienced Saturday night. We experienced a great blessing when SpringHill staff, board members and other supporters enthusiastically celebrated with us Christina’s first Butler Ballet.
And it turns out to be more than just one evening, because we have these incredible friends who now know Christina, live near her and will be available to her (and us) during the rest of her years at Butler.
And this would not be possible if I kept a strict separation between my work and personal life.
Yes, it’s healthy to be able to step away from our work, but to build artificial walls between work and personal life isn’t, and often keeps us from receiving the blessings of an integrated life.
To strike the right balance between these two parts of our life requires wisdom, prayer and reflection. But when the right balance is struck, as it was on Saturday evening, it’s hard to imagine living any other way.
For over twenty years Michael Perry has made it his mission to bring young people closer to Christ through his Bible study publications, his capacity as the President and CEO of SpringHill, and his recent book, Experience = Everything. Over the last fifty years, SpringHill has changed over half a million lives—proving that it is more than just camp, or a place, SpringHill is a transformative experience.