If, like me you arrived in this world able to turn your hand to pretty much anything, you will know this is not always as beneficial as it would seem. In saying this I do not mean that I do everything brilliantly, what I do mean is that if I set my mind to achieving something I will pretty much be able to pull all my skills together to achieve that aim (to some level of accomplishment or other!).
The problem is that as well educated, multifaceted, perfectly competent and capable people we can find it increasingly difficult to know what direction to choose. My head-Teacher-Mother used to smile a wide grin at me in my teens and say ‘but you can do ANYTHING you want to do”, leaving me internally responding with ‘but how do I know what that thing is?”.
I would simultaneously be envying any fellow student who had the conviction to state that they wished to be a “trapeze artist’ and I would be wondering just how they knew that….
And so my career was pretty much a process of elimination. A passable BA hons (acquired despite a large percentage of my time spent on less formally educative activities!), left me fairly practically unemployable in the early 90″s, a punishingly intensive typing course and I was plunged into an advertising role, then sales roles, and inevitably marketing, then human resources, training and development and blah blah blah! Really,
I could do them all, but, did I want to…..? Only one or two roles actually gave me any real satisfaction. By my mid-thirties I felt I had fallen from a great height. I was never going to find a job that made me really happy and I would never realize all that potential I had been told I had. I did fear I would never ever find My Thing! How could I find My Thing?
Some people are entirely able to ‘work to live’. It is enough to earn the wages to free them to do what they wish in the rest of their lives. My life would have been far easier had I been designed that way.
Many of us however need to feel greater value or purpose in our work for it to be enjoyable, sustainable and motivating. I was sure discovering I was one of those people. The more roles I tried on and the more external agenda I tried to meet, the more discontented and physically unwell I became.
Instead of quitting, I burnt out and gave myself a good dose of chronic fatigue syndrome. I am a devilish in my completer-finisher traits. This illness completely finished me and I was forced to step out of the loop and re-evaluate.
A Coaching Process
It was a coaching process brought back my physical well-being as along with the realization that the brain is such a powerful tool that it must be harnessed or it can cause us trouble. Thus I trained as a coach, I qualified as a clinical supervisor, I began to practice and low and behold I was reconnected with the roles I had enjoyed in my mid-twenties.
Those roles involved supporting other people’s personal development. There was something very powerful that happened for me and for the other person when I had helped another human overcome a fear or be really true to themselves. This was a kind of alchemy, a joy, a moment of magic where an opportunity is grasped and the outcomes can be startling.
What I began to realize as I practiced was that the very thing that enabled another human to move forward was the same thing that gave me joy and fulfillment. The two were symbiotic. Oh, I was on to something good. This Was My Sweet Spot. This kept happening, with new clients and different techniques, but the effect on all concerned continued. I Had Found My Thing. I was working with my Core Purpose.
When I began to embrace my core purpose, things began to line up. A synchronicity kicked in and all sorts of doors opened. My work was beginning to feel as I had hoped it would, as I had been told it could. My core purpose was to enable others to identify their own core purpose. This was joyous work.
What I also found was I was certainly not alone in fearing the worst for my career in the years that I had been flailing about. I encounter more and more people every day who experience a sense of disconnectedness because they have not yet located what it is they long to do.
Suddenly I was in a position of having designed myself my own career that was more than fulfilling, I was flourishing in my on CPD and indeed in business, and I was helping others to do so too.
What is a Core purpose?
Harvard Business Review defines a core purpose as:
“Companies that enjoy enduring success have a core purpose and core values that remain fixed while their strategies and practices endlessly adapt to a changing world.”
In my experience it is similar for humans. Put simply, knowing your core purpose is the understanding of what drives your passion, and knowing just how to engage with your work in your own unique way. It is the bit at the center of us that ‘remains fixed’ whatever else moves. This way you can identify the work you want to do.
It is rigorous curiosity that will help you find your core purpose. We need to ask ourselves a lot of questions, and we need to give ourselves the space to be able to hear the answers. Exploring our career in a holistic manner will enable the identification of a core purpose. Examining the environment you work in and envisaging the environment that would most benefit you.
We often don’t even have to time to recognize that we are working in an environment or cultural context that suffocates us.
How do we find it?
Picking over the map of your behaviors in your professional territory and seeing which are still useful and which you can choose to set down as you move forward. All of these behaviors will have arisen for good reason, some will no longer be serving you.
A thorough exploration of you skills, personal attributes and capabilities will boost your confidence. This is also a space to identify any you might wish to gain or strengthen. This is the time to give yourself permission to vision and dream and to choose new ways.
What would you like to try? Are you willing to risk it? Does your energy rise when you contemplate it? Trust that!
Time spent identifying your core values will underpin your purposeful professional development. Knowing this means you know what you will and indeed what you will not compromise on your professional journey.
This means your next move will be informed by these values and alignment with them will engender success. Examining your belief system is really important because this way you will see which of them are useful and which are not.
Often our beliefs about ourselves or our potential were handed to us by outside influences; by our parents, schools, society and peers. Sometimes we need to jettison those that hold us back. Then we can choose how to move forward in our own authentic way.
We are not who we were told to be. We can give ourselves permission to be who we are. The most effective business transactions take place between real humans. Humans who are secure enough bring their whole selves to the table and this means the deal that is done is of real value.
Often it is at the level of an individual’s ‘professional Identify’ that the biggest tweaks need making. Looking at the roles you have in this life, and choosing whether they are still a good fit. I see the most brilliant and talented people sitting before me, who are stuck because they are still trying to be something they are not.
Freed of these internalized expectations, these people can be who they truly and brilliantly are, setting out on newly chosen career pathways that enable them to fly! If you work your way studiously up through all these levels, in exactly this order, it enables a realignment that inevitably reveals your core purpose.
The Purpose Of a Core Purpose
What I can bet on, is when you see it, you will know it. When you see it you will know that way back you will have had a little taste of this pathway, and, that as it gave you joy then, it will give you joy again.
Knowing your core purpose means that all your previous professional experiences will have had a use, all of them have fed into your reaching this place in yourself and all of them will continue to nourish your career pathway henceforth.
The difference will be that you know exactly what purpose they are nourishing and exactly how. You will know what work you wish to do, you will understand what purpose this work had both for yourself and got the world. It is an extraordinary journey to take, it requires courage, but the rewards I see, over and over, are astounding! My joy lies in witnessing “The light-bulb moments” of others.
Their joy lies in finding their own core purpose for their careers. Whilst it feels like magic, it is actually simply the result of a focused investment of time and energy in the right way that elicits trustworthy and rewarding results. This is My Thing, what’s yours?
About The Author
Rebecca aka The Daemon Career Coach has worked in training and development for 25 years. Having found her own ‘Career Thing’, she provides values-led coaching and clinical supervision in service of enabling others to find their ‘Career Thing’ too. You can find Rebecca at: http://www.daemoncareercoach.co.uk/