Stepping Stone or End Zone?
One of my favorite movies as a kid was “Jerry Maguire,” a film featuring Tom Cruise as a sports agent that takes you through the ups and downs of his career. At the start of the film, Jerry Maguire decides to draft a manifesto, of sorts, to his sports agency colleagues regarding what is wrong within their profession––and how to fix it.
Jerry has a moment of clarity and passion as he burns the midnight oil writing a heartfelt memo to his peers. The next morning he hand delivers a copy of his memo to every employee within the agency––it is titled The Things We Think And Do Not Say. In the film, his passion for change leads to career suicide at his agency but the moral of the story is that Jerry’s passion leads him to become a better man, spouse and business person. Although Jerry Maguire is typically viewed as a sports film, it is really a movie about relationships. It is about taking risks in life and, ultimately, finding yourself. As we all start the new year, I write this article to ask my friends, colleagues, clients and vendors: Are you in a business where you have passion for change and growth but, for whatever reason, do not act? If you do not act, why? I have shared several ideas, below, to encourage you to align your goals with your company to create a better future.
Does your company have a Purpose, Mission and Core Values?
I hope so, and if not you should discuss establishing them with your management team and make them a part of every function within your business. Each one of us travels to work each day to make a living but the lucky ones genuinely enjoy the company and people with whom they work. “People” includes everyone involved––from management and employees to clients and vendors. If you believe in what your company believes in, you are far more likely to give 100% and truly care about what your job entails. I am a realist and understand that many individuals may not be in their “dream career”, but that is not the point. If your values align with your company values, you will have more interest and enthusiasm in your work––day in and day out.
Do you truly believe in the products (or services) you and your company offers?
If you do not, then please put in your Two Weeks Notice right now. I mean that. Life is too short to represent a product or service you do not believe in. If you are a vegan and have strong views against consuming animal products, please do not work at a steakhouse. If you dislike exercising, please do not work at a running shoe store. This may seem obvious but if you truly have no interest, care, or belief in the product or service you are selling then why bother? Align your career with your personal beliefs and values to the best of your ability. There is a famous quote from The Godfather that states, “it’s not personal Sonny, it’s strictly business…” This statement could not be further from the truth. Everything is personal. Your paycheck is personal. Your relationships with your coworkers and clients are personal. Therefore, your career is personal and should align with your values, beliefs, and goals.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
This is a tough question… but challenge yourself. If you do not believe you will be working where you work now, 5-10 years from today, that is perfectly fine, but WHY? What is missing from your current employment situation that does not align with who you are or who you want to be? Do you view your job as a stepping stone? Could the company, or dare I say––you––make changes to make your current “job” a long-term career? As you begin any new year, quarter or sales cycle I believe this is a great question to hone in on. Have a long-term vision of who you want to be in 5-10 years, then make goals based on this long-term vision. The best “you” should be 10 years from now, not 10 years ago!
Bottom line: Life is too short to not believe in your work. Seek a career that you have a passion for and, if you do not have a true passion, at minimum work for a company where their beliefs and values align with your own.