Human Resources Today

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What's Your Place?

I had a great discussion over dinner last night with some friends about the "place." The one place that makes you feel most at home--the place that is the core of who you are. For one it was Prague, because that's where she fell in love. For another it was Vienna because that's where he was born and spent his formative years. For me, it might be Nashville or Geneva for two very different reasons. But the core of the conversation, was about where you feel most you, most impactful or most impacted.  What if we took that sentiment and applied it in another way? Let me explain. I was in Nashville to get my MBA. I'd been living in DC for nine years until then--in the city, taking public transport everywhere. I hit museums, bars and restaurants on a regular basis. When I applied to B-School I was at a crossroads personally and professionally and decided I wanted to apply to schools all in places I thought I'd never live (Raleigh-Durham, Nashville, Ann Arbor). And Nashville won out.

I thought it would be funny, a great joke to later tell at dinner parties: "I lived in Nashville for two years, ha!" But then it became my place. For the first time in nine years I was a full-time student again. In a laid-back city full of culture, live music and great food. I fell in love with learning, new music, new people. It became my place.  Now when I go back to visit, I literally long for those days.  I was at my best, in my place with life.

What if we did that with our careers? What if you stopped and asked yourself, "what's my place?"

Do it. Think back throughout your career. What's your place? Are you there? Were you there? When (if ever) did you feel most at home in your career. When (if ever) have you looked around and said "I can't believe my luck?"

I'm in the middle of looking for my place. And that's how I came here, with Exaqueo. It's mine, and I'm at home. I'm working with individuals to find their home through personal brand creation and management and career coaching. I'm working with companies to help them define their talent and brand strategies.  And I'm slowly coming back to my place.

What's yours?



A Job Is A Ride

Recently, we moved from Bethesda, MD (one side of Washington, DC) to the historic district of Old Town, Alexandria, VA (the other side of DC). My commute promptly went from 15 minutes to 45 minutes (on a very good day). But instead of driving past a few strip malls and office parks, every day on my commute down the George Washington Parkway I see planes taking off into the sunrise, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson & Lincoln Memorials, and when in season, the cherry blossoms in full bloom. I drive under the Key Bridge and this morning, saw the college crew team out for their morning practice. Sure, the commute is much longer (an hour on some days). But I'm no longer driving past suburban strip malls and office parks. And I'm astounded by the beauty of the Parkway every day. It was on one of these drives that I was reconciling the common complaint I keep hearing: "I don't know whether I should leave my job."

A year ago and more, workers were just happy to have a job. But now with the economy turning, confidence is creeping back in, and many people are asking themselves: "Should I stay or should I go?" For years I have been telling people there's no perfect job. There's a right job for you at any given time. And what was right two or ten years ago may or may not be right now.

A job is a ride. It has ups, it has downs. But the equation isn't rocket science.  Ask yourself what you most want to be doing at work right now. Then ask yourself what kind of environment and culture you most want to be in right now. Map to your current job. Is there a 65-90% match? Are you doing mostly what you want to do? Are you getting mostly what you want in return? Then stay the course.

There's also the X factor to consider.  Let's take my morning commute.  If I can handle 90% of the factors associated with a longer commute (gas $, longer time to work, breakfast on the run), then it makes sense to stay the course.  But if I have a really old car, and I know if it breaks down I can't afford a new one, then it's time to make a change.

Look for the match. Look for the X factor.  Compare your situation to what matters to you right now. Don't compare one job offer to another, or one job to one you hypothetically could have.  There will never be a match. If you enjoy the ride, if it's meeting and exceeding the majority of your needs, don't change the route.

Like a commute, you still want to keep an eye on pending construction, listen for morning traffic tie-ups and take care of your car so it holds up. Your job, your career likely won't be perfect every day, or in the future. So that's one eye on the dashboard, one eye on the road, and a firm grip on what lies ahead.