What can we learn from those colourful people who thrive, rather than simply surviving at work?
I have had the pleasure of working with many talented, often inspirational people over the years, who personify vitality in their careers. They seem to enjoy hard work, have an uncanny ability to give you their undivided attention no matter how much is going on around them and have a presence and charisma which is often infectious. These are the things which I have learned from them, and which help me to inspire happier lives and careers.
1/They make it their business to find a career which suits their personality, values and talents and throw themselves into it with passion and commitment. If they become unhappy, they will be proactive about finding alternatives and will not rest until they have done so. It is the compromises in life which grind us down and if you are struggling to find your vocation or direction, the words of Aristotle are as relevant today as ever.
'where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation'
Find your talents and sweet spot then focus on a career which plays to your strengths, rather than spending too much time trying to overcome your weaknesses, as so many people are inclined to do.
2/They strive to bring more fun into their working lives so that the distinction between work and play, free time and leisure becomes less stark or not relevant at all. They are often optimists with infectious enthusiasm who have the ability to turn a rainy day in Clacton into a spring day in Epping Forest. They are likely to view happiness as a choice and give their time freely and generously. These things invariably come back to them in a virtuous circle and they will rarely if ever adopt a victim mentality.
3/They invariably demonstrate high levels of mindfulness and emotional intelligence. Keen awareness of their own emotions and those of others around them leads to greater mastery and self-possession. Notice I do not use the word control, which implies too much dependency on outcomes. Mindful people do not need to 'win' conversations or control others and will adjust their response and outlook in flexible and philosophical rather than dogmatic ways. They are more likely to influence rather than to dictate.
4/Successful people tend to have clear purpose, goals and ambitions. Human beings generally perform better and feel better when they have a clear direction, rather than just drifting along (although there is a place for that at times too). As the Roman philosopher Seneca identified
'to he (or she) who knows not to which port they are sailing, no wind is favourable'
Goals are a core part of coaching and if you are struggling to find yours, then the goals may become the outcome of the coaching relationship. If like some people you struggle with the word goals, you may find purpose to be a more compelling word. Finding yours maybe one of the most important things you ever do.
5/ Some of the most impressive people I have worked with demonstrate a quality which you may or may not expect to see on this list, humility. At its best, this quality reflects a grounded personality and a level of confidence that egotists or bullies invariably lack. Humility will make you open and approachable to the ideas of others, ensuring that their contribution is greater than the sum of the parts. Where a bully may get a short term fix and even shorter term results through fear, a more enlightened leader will achieve longer term loyalty and respect. What is more they are likely to thrive and enjoy their interactions with others, with grace and humility.
6/People who thrive in their careers are more likely to express their thoughts and feelings with confidence and passion rather than burying them or resorting to safe platitudes. All of us have interesting stories and insights so why not share them and in doing so, build deeper relationships with others. You will be more fully alive and may start to enjoy your working life, rather than just tolerating it.
7/Successful people are often creative innovators who love to push the boundaries of what is possible. Unfortunately, many people underestimate their creative ability and others exhibit a 'hobbit syndrome' often surprising themselves and others when they step outside of the comfort zone to express themselves creatively. If you need inspiration, think where JK Rowling might be if she had not found the courage to write? What would Bill Gates be doing if he had not had the vision to create value through technology, and then give it all away?
Finally, if you are looking to get more out of your working life or change career, try not to think purely in terms of existing skills and experience. Be brave enough to think more holistically about your talents, transferable skills and the possibility of retraining. Human beings are far more adaptable and flexible than we give ourselves credit for. If you cannot do it alone, find a good coach or mentor who will inspire you and provide you with the support and insight to make it happen.
I am a coach and mentor with the award winning firm, Accelerating Experience. www.acceleratingexperience.com