Archive for the ‘ Ambition ’ Category

The Difference Between Your Work and Your Job

This conversation seems to pop up a lot lately, especially when people start talking about “the current economy”. “How can I leave my job to follow my passion?” “I feel lucky just to have a job!” Or, “It’s just a job.”

Yes. And.

It’s important to understand both the difference and the relationship between your work and your job. It’s fairly simple, really: Your “work” is what you do. It’s what you were designed to do. It’s what you are excited about, and what you have talent for. It’s connected to your very reason for being; it’s the contribution you are making to the world and to humanity. It doesn’t have to be just one thing, but whatever the one thing—or many things—that you are doing does have to be deeply part of you. It’s your purpose and passion.

Your job, on the other hand, is simply the place where you have the opportunity to do your work. If you are doing your work for a company that pays you to do it, then you have a pretty good gig going on. Maybe you work for someone else, or maybe you work for yourself, but it’s important to have a job in which you have the chance, every day, to do your work.

Get it?

You may have a job that is “just a job”; you need to pay the mortgage and put food on the table, right? True, those things need to be done. But can you find some part of your work in your job, even if it’s not your dream job?

Consider this: My son, Ryan, is a writer. And as a budding young author, he still needed to pay the rent and make his car payment. So he got a job delivering mail for the US Postal Service. And as he walked along his delivery route every day, he looked for ideas and stories to write about. In the mornings before work, he got up early and wrote his stories, then went out looking for more every day while he did his “job”.

Some people actually discover their “work” while they are doing a job. Zack, our partner at Five Degrees Consulting, was launching a marketing business when we recruited him to do some consulting work for us. We discovered he had a diverse set of talents and experience in retail management, and we asked him to start helping us out with leadership development and executive coaching. Zack discovered his passion for working with leaders and organizations with his very first foray into the consulting world, and now he’s hooked! (And we’re very happy.)

The saying, “Do what you love, and love what you do” is most true when you find the right fit between your work and your job.

Authored by Merrilee Buchanan

Merrilee is a Senior Consultant and one of the founding partners at Five Degrees Consulting. You can follow her on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.
This is a blog we share  between several of the Consultants at Five Degrees, guest authors and colleagues.  We work with companies large and small on People and Organization strategies.  Our work specializes in organizational development, leadership effectiveness and executive development. With a focus on working with leaders at all levels to create an intentional corporate culture, we help organizations increase employee engagement, energize working teams, develop critical leadership competencies and enhance strategic communications for more information about our services, please connect with us.

Women’s ambition: “Woman Up”

“I’m sorry, I want to move up in this organization” stated a woman in one of our leadership retreats. ‘Why did she feel the need to apologize for her ambition to move up the corporate ladder,’ I wondered? That led the group to a spirited discussion about women and ambition.

The word ambition has a “maleness” about it. According to Merriam/Webster, it means “an ardent desire for rank, fame or power.” Wikipedia further states that “ambitious people seek to be the best at what they choose to do for attainment, power, or superiority.” While both men and women pursue goals and personal achievement, there is a huge difference between what is acceptable ambition for men and what is acceptable ambition for women.

Men are biologically wired for competition. A study of 5 and 6 year old boys demonstrated that at this early age, boys are already aware of the “pecking order” amongst themselves. Each boy in the group identified the same “pecking order” of boys after just two of hours of playing together. Not only do we accept that men will compete for the “top dog” status, but we expect them to express ambition in this way.

Women are biologically wired for relationships. We have highly developed “mirror neurons” that enable us to empathize with others. Just 24 hours after birth, girls hold eye contact and gaze at faces far longer than boys do. Ambition for women is acceptable if it is expressed in relationship to others. If our ambition is about our families or our teams or for the good of our community, that would be acceptable. Ambition about personal achievement is less acceptable, and runs the risk of being judged “unwomanly.”

I was watching an action movie and one of the characters admonished his partner to “man up”, meaning act like a man and start going after what he wanted. When a woman expresses an ambition that is about personal achievement, it’s as if a chorus of voices, both male and female, chastise her to “woman up”. By this we mean stop pursuing fame and glory and start putting the group ahead of your own desires.

I think that’s why the woman in our group apologized for her ambition. She knew she was vulnerable to the chorus, “woman up”. I’d like to create a gender-neutral definition of acceptable ambition. Any ambition is acceptable if it meets two criteria: it is aligned with the person’s values and it does not cause harm to others. When ambition is good for me and good (or at the very least not bad) for you, then it is acceptable.

Looking for the best or just get stuff done?

My formal training is in creativity. Every day, I studied and practiced to be more creative, you know, the whole ‘think outside of the box’ thing. If my degrees and grades are any indication, I got pretty good at solving problems using the creative process.

Since then, it seems that I have spent more time just solving problems ’cause theyneed to be solved and less time using my established system of creativity to kick the problem where it counts. Either way, the problem gets fixed, but could the problem have been fixed better using more creativity?

This then is my conundrum. Do I take the time… time is money, right?… So, do I take the ‘money’ to work through a problem to solve it creatively or do I do the best I can to solve the problem as quickly as possible?

Are we looking for the best, but possibly more expensive and getting less done?


Are we looking to get more things done well but not best?

I don’t know. What do you think?

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