Work is an interesting and conflicted pursuit for many of us. It is not uncommon to hear folks boast their detest for their job and the mindless minions who serve as their bosses. Though at once, the fear of layoffs or workforce attrition causes these same souls to quake in their boots.
“My job drains the ever loving life out of me, but I’d die without it”, seems to be the un-uttered mantra for many of us.
I can’t help but question this type of existence and have previously shared my thoughts about work’s evolutionary chain – J-O-B’s to Careers to “Our Life’s Work”.
I recently engaged a pair of discussions which further confirmed, challenged, reinforced, and refined my vision of work. Admittedly, I may only slightly have it more figured out than when I last wrote on this topic but repeated incremental progress surely brings virtue to the toil. For that reason, I want to share and engage with you my recent experiences.
My first engaged discussion was actually no discussion at all – apologies for the mild deception but call it literary license. It was actually an article in a weekly newsletter crafted by my favorite career coach/author/podcaster Dan Miller. In this article Dan shared a compelling story of genius and opportunity exploitation by a pair of simple California kids hired to hold sales signs on a busy intersection for $7 an hour. You’ve seen the guys holding, waving, and spinning signs directing you to a local pizza parlor or some other such strip mall tenant.
One of the young men, Max Durovic, shared in an interview that after 10 minutes standing on the corner, “it (sign holding) becomes the worst job in the entire world”. This led to his doing tricks with the signs which of course drew more attention to himself and the ads he was promoting. Attention in advertising is a good thing and before long he had parlayed his $7/hour sign holding job into a $70/hour sign spinning instruction gig and now his AArrow Advertising is a multi-national, multi-million$ operation.
There is certain brilliance in leveraging a no-where job into a successful business simply by unleashing a little passion and personality into the process. Given that so many of us start each day so much farther along than the local corner with a sign in our hand, it should be incumbent upon us to elevate our contribution and potential. Perhaps it is not a literal extension of our day job, but rather an expansion of a dormant passion or dream that helps to unlock our potential. Whatever it is, this article further inspires me to chase after some of the loose visions in my head.
To subscribe or simply to learn more about Dan Miller, click here – 48 Days.
My second encounter was a discussion with a close friend. My friend holds a position with significant sales and service responsibilities. Poor staffing and management frequently complicates the situation and adds to the pressures and workloads. The industry is a field of expertise but the employer does not inspire an optimal setting.
Due to anticipated life changes, the discussion centered around the potential need to exchange this full time position for a more flexible part time opportunity.
It was clear to me that my friend had a very squared or structured view of the situation. The nature of the current job and industry requires a full time commitment such that the part time job would require a new opportunity and experience altogether.
I, on the other hand, wanted to challenge the norm and redefine how the job might be structured. To be fair, this is always easier to do from the role of an outsider and I acknowledge that I’d have a difficult time applying the same creativity to my own employ.
To this person, I wanted to tilt windmills.
But I was structured in my approach if not in my result. What elements of the job do you enjoy? Which elements are fun and exciting? Simplifying for the sake of the story, would you rather engage the sales elements or the service elements of the role? If service is often a function of immediate customer need, might focused and proactive sales activity be performed on a more flexible basis? …And perhaps even remotely?
To me a new world of opportunity was opening, one in which expertise, fun work, and flexibility might be combined to redefine the meaning of work.
Dan Miller talks about using this model to not only redefine work but to also redefine personal security and prosperity. Imagine the 20% of your job that inspires you the most and then imagine performing that duty for 5 unique employers? On a contract basis you could likely command a higher salary and have the relative security of 5 employers rather than just 1.
Again, it’s a unique view of the work we do and how we can mold it to fit our needs rather than vice versa. The opportunities are out there… we just have to know where, and how to look for them.
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