What to Do When Your Job Doesn’t Work For You

Do you ever feel like what’s inside you, what you are here to do, is just not happening? That your job doesn’t allow for you to consistently bring your best traits and strengths forward?

When Your Job is Not The Work You Want to Do

Ryan wanted to figure out “How to start doing the work I really want to do, and how to enjoy more the work that I currently have.” After years in a prominent law firm and the State Attorney’s office Ryan opened a successful family law practice, but something wasn’t syncing.

See Ryan knew his calling, to help people find resolutions and meaningful agreements that benefit all parties in the midst of some of life’s most difficult situations. And to do this in the most productive and non-confrontational, win-win manner possible.

It just chaffed against who he is at his core, trying to live out his calling in the confines of the antagonistic, win-lose nature of legal disputes.

What Ryan desired is a career that combined his legal knowledge, mediation skills and natural talent for counseling people. That would feel right to him and sync with his calling.

Know What Work You Desire and What Makes You- You

He needed strategies to support him move forward using his mediation skills and expertise and leverage his best-of-self traits, while still running his legal practice.

But first he needed to be clear about what his strengths are, so they could be leveraged to move him forward.

So we identified the strengths that make Ryan- Ryan. Including his strong sense of purpose. Treating all people fairly and not letting feelings bias decisions about others. Ryan has terrific judgment, thinking things through and examining them from all sides, not jumping to conclusions. He always offers a perspective and wise counsel that make sense to him and others.

Pave a Path to Work You Desire with Best-of-Self Traits 

We explored how these traits show up in his work now and where the friction is strongest.

  • Fairness as a top trait can rub up against the win-lose nature of legal disputes, but is perfect for mediation.
  • Perspective is an excellent trait to have as someone people turn to for counsel and to guide decision-making.
  • Judgment fully ties into being able to find ways to build bridges in situations where that seems improbable.

We plotted out a course to shift Ryan from traditional legal work into a career that makes the most of his training and who he is as a person.

And we crafted strategies, rooted in Ryan’s sense of purpose, to leverage his best-of-self traits with less friction and maximize his mediation skills and foster his presence as an expert.

So What Happened

Ryan’s been raising his profile by being an instructor for a mediation course and networking. He’s infusing mediation into his legal work. And he has enrolled in a master in counseling program.

“The most important thing you helped me discover is how to weave my strengths into my profession and how to serve my profession by focusing on my strengths.”

  • Ryan reported that as a result of coaching his ability to use his best-of-self traits increased 166%
  • And using his sense of purpose to guide decision-making rose 350%

I am not measuring myself against others’ successes, rather I am focused on creating my own.”

I know on my right path now” says Ryan.

And I’d love to help you get on your right path too.

If you have questions about coaching or want to explore how more fully integrating your best-of-self traits can help you and your business, please email me, just fill out the form below. I’ll be delighted to connect with you.


What I Did When My Perfect Job Turned Out Not To Be

Ever have the experience that what looked like the perfect job turn out not be?

Me too.

When the Perfect Job Isn’t

Everything looked great on paper. I had a fancy title, staff reporting to me, a growing national presence and a seven-figure budget to manage. Back in a fabulous town in my beloved home state, after being away for a decade. The salary generous and benefits a-go-go.

It was super position for a mid-career, early thirties gal. Just not for me.

Who I am as a person and my particular combination of strengths and approach to managing staff and projects covering 6 states were not a good match for the organizational environment I was in.

I was miserable. “What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks have I done?” miserable.

The Day Professional Development Paid Off

One evening after a long day I was looking at some workshop options.

I needed some continuing education credits for my social work license and found a 1-day workshop on coaching skills for clinicians. I thought, “Well that sounds interesting” and registered.

A month later I was at the workshop.

“Eureka!” I had found it. What I was supposed to be doing professionally.

Strengths Light the Way for the Next Professional Step

As the workshop progressed, I could see the connection between what I had done and the possibility of what I could do. I could imagine a better career path that would leverage my crazy quilt of professional experiences and my signature strengths.

Once I take in- the bigger picture I can focus in on the details, that’s good since that is in part why my clients hire me.

As a bonus my natural tendency to be open-minded and think things through from multiple perspectives (that can be a bear to hold in check personally) is a super strength for my work because I can see connections that my clients don’t.

Perseverance, could be my middle name, and is an ideal trait for an entrepreneur.

For better or worse, I am genuine and don’t try to fit myself into a what I am not supposed to be in- like “the job of misery”. And it means I’ll speak the truth even when it’s hard.

The day after the workshop- literally- I signed up for my first coaching training course. Two months after that I had my first coaching clients.

As I developed my chops as a coach, I drew on my best-of-self traits both when coaching and in my job.

Then the miserable job went.

I left it- with a plan, but not a safety net job.

Stepping into a Promising Future

That was 11 years ago.

Yes, it was scary to step away from the safely of what looked like the best thing possible on paper, in to a future that was promising if unknown. And I don’t recommend that for everyone.

I have not looked back, but I sure have pulled on my perseverance, critical thinking and sense of perspective over those years to expand what was possible for me. And make those possibilities reality.

I’d love to help you step into your next professional expansion.

If you want to explore how more fully integrating your best-of-self traits can help you and your business, please email me, using the contact form below. I’ll be delighted to connect with you.

Ever looked back fondly at a job and wondered why it was so good?

Summer makes me nostalgic.  Since it’s the mid-point in the year I usually reflect on what has happened this year to date. That inevitably leads to thinking about what happened in the past.

Have you ever looked back fondly at a job and wondered why it was so good?

Me too.

And I have looked back and been reminded of what made other jobs just the opposite.

Figuring out what elements were present when it was good is more fruitful because they can be harder to name.  You expose richer and new information. The negative comes too easily and quickly.

The Good Old Days Of Work

I have been working with Tim, identifying patterns of things he enjoyed in past work, as a part of sorting out what happens next professionally.

Looking back Tim sees 5 themes in the work he loved and excelled in. Autonomy, to work on his own without the need to be famous (though the past write-up in Entrepreneur magazine was nice).  Being able to find outlines to do the unexpected, especially in collaboration.  Stepping up to a challenge, fuels him. He craves variety and to be the person people rely on.

Work You Enjoy Reflects the Best-of-You Traits

And it is remarkable how closely these trends are reflected in Tim’s signature traits.

He’s honest, truthful even when it’s hard, unpretentious, and takes responsibility for his feelings and actions. Perfect for a self-directed person.  Tim’s creative, conceptualizing things in a productive and unexpected ways. Leading to innovative problem solving. And he enjoys experimenting with new things and projects. He’s humble. Tim let’s his accomplishments speak for themselves but he does not shy away from them either.  And he gives credit where it is due.

In the work he enjoyed most, he could consistently use his best-of-self traits (also called signature strengths).

Making Work Better With Signature Strengths

It’s not clear if there is more room for Tim to grow in his current job. So he’s focusing his creativity on how he approaches his work. Not taking on more than what he really needs to, while helping others see where they can shine.

He’s less stressed and more productive at work, while working 40 hours instead of 45 hours a week.

Tim is more clear and specific and truthful about what he wants to create in his next professional move. It’s easier for Tim to expand what he sees as career possibilities.

And he has the mental energy to spend getting clear about what is most important to him in his career without worrying he has to have it all figured out RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

Tim says about the future, “I see how my top traits and the themes in my past work can lead to getting something new, like my own business again, off the ground. When the time comes I’ll be ready to make an informed choice about what direction to take professionally.”

Your ultimate professional opportunity is to cultivate your best-of-self traits so you enjoy who you are and what you do.

And that makes your contributions to your work, your family, and your community wonderful.

And it will you give something wonderful be nostalgic about.

How One Leader Made Her Softest Skill Her Strongest Asset

Kat’s a rising leader in her state and in her field. She’s whip smart, down to earth, generous and one of the most social people around. Kat instinctively reads people and knows how to relate to them, making them welcome and at ease. And she gets the best out of them.

That makes complete sense; social intelligence is her number one signature strength.

Honestly, if you looked up the phrase in the dictionary, Kat’s picture ought to be next to it.

Kat gives networking a good name, using her ability to connect to help others realize their success.

And that is superb.

Except for one thing on her mind . . .

A Nagging I Wonder How To

“I wish I could figure out how to use my love of networking to make a living.”

Great question. How do you make a strength – that seems soft or squishy- the foundation from which to build a successful self-supporting career?

Squishy Can Become A Solid Foundation

And that’s what Kat and I are delving into. Spotlighting strategies for connecting with people that:

  1. highlight her special insights and experiences, and
  2. fit with what is important to her as a person.

These strategies accelerate her ability to build a career firmly grounded in her number one strength.

Kat’s got stories to tell as a woman in a technical field, and as young successful professional, her tales have wisdom for others.

She comes alive around people and other people’s successes are important to her as her own.

So, telling her tales and sharing her insights is a way of helping others and gives her more opportunities to connect.

Solidifying A Soft Skill

She’s scouting speaking opportunities at young professional groups. And she’s writing articles for trade and professional organization publications, and local news outlets.

Kat’s putting her natural ability to good use in a statewide leadership program, helping to link people based 100’s of miles apart, and from very different sectors, together. Rooting stronger relationships for the benefit of many.

That’s just the beginning of how she can use her natural strength to build a satisfying career.

And better yet, she’s realizing her calling, to connect people and bring everyone forward.

Why I am I Telling You About This

Knowing and using your signature strengths helps you to be amazing (Yes, you are amazing even if you don’t feel it this moment) because you shine a light on what’s best about you. And that makes what you do and who you are amazing.

The research backs it up.

The world needs you to do your best work and be your best self. And so do you.

70% of people are checked out at work, are you?

I am fascinated by how people answer the question, “What do you do?”  Think about it.

I bet your job immediately came to mind.  That’s true for almost everyone I meet. As if a position on an organizational chart is the primary defining characteristic about you.

But you are so much more than a position on an organizational chart.

Even if you spend a lot of time with/at/for work.  Getting a job. Learning the job. Keeping the job. Building a business. Planning for the business. Commuting to and from work. Taking work home.

You are still not your work.

And we- individual people as a whole- don’t do a very good job making the most of the mind-boggling amount of time given to work.

Turns out neither do most of the businesses in the US.

Work: Engaging or Soul Sucking

Only 30% of the US workforce is engaged with work*. If you work with passion and feel a profound connection to your company you are in this group.

On the other hand 52% of you are not engaged at work*- you’ve checked out and you’re clock-watching.

  • It stinks to feel you are going through the motions with no room to grow.
  • Feeling your best traits and skill are ignored at work is deflating.

More disconcerting 18% of you are actively disengaged* you are so unhappy at work you take it out on everyone in the office.

  • Being around colleagues so miserable at work they undermine progress, is soul sucking -for you the miserable- and everyone else.
  • Plus that attitude and actions are infectious poisoning the other parts of your life.

What Makes Work Engaging

People who use their strengths every day are 6-times more likely to be engaged with work (Gallup 2013).

How GREAT would it feel to be able to use your best-of-self traits (the singular constellation of skills and strengths, experiences and quirks that make you who you are) every day at the place where you spend the majority of your waking hours?

Awesome. It is awesome.

Leaders and managers who create environments where their employees’ best-of-self traits are used 10 hours a week can practically eliminate active disengagement and can double the number workers who are engaged.

There’s Hope If You Want To Do Something About It

Ideally you (and everyone else) are in a workplace that is a honest-to-goodness, strengths based environment.

And there is hope even if you aren’t.

The trick is to expand your possibilities to use your best-of-self traits . . . regardless of circumstances.

The magic of the trick is expanding your possibilities even when your stretch is small. It’s the stretch that matters.

Over the next couple of weeks I will share stories of real people stretching how they use their best-of-self strengths (or helping their employees to) and what happens.

*State of the American Workplace, Gallup 2013. It’s bedtime reading for me, so you don’t have to read it!