Are You Making The Most Of Your Career?

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A few years ago, I gave seminars on the theme: Better business through personal success. These illustrated enlightened self-interest; how personal, inner motivation serves both business objectives and employee satisfaction. This view was based on my experience conducting Inner Motivation, Personal Success and Career Development training programmes for a number of organizations.

An organization thrives with a clear mission, vision and purpose for its enterprise. As an employee, you can be fulfilling your own objectives within such an organization -- not just financially but also your personal ethos and values -- the natural drive to make the most of your life.

In such an enterprise, you will be fulfilling your personal aspirations for autonomy, mastery and purpose -- the three qualities of intrinsic motivation that Dan Pink discusses in this video. As he argues here, carrot and stick motivation no longer works so well in the 21st century.

He emphasizes that there is presently a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.

Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation

We need to take much greater charge of our careers so that they can evolve to serve ourselves, and others. A truer and better life is at your doorstep. If you have not already passed over that threshold, it is a thrilling time.

Here I expand on the definitions Dan Pink explores for inner motivation, based on my own findings.

1. AUTONOMY - The urge to direct our own lives.

Who are you, deep down? Autonomy is greater engagement with your life and a sense of personal empowerment as you honour what is true for you. Greater engagement leads to greater fulfillment.

With autonomy you stop blaming yourself or others when things go wrong. You learn from mistakes. Emotionally you become more dynamic, energized and free to be fully yourself.

What are you passionate about? What fascinates you? What skills and abilities, when you use them, give you most satisfaction? How could you be more accountable for creating a working life you truly enjoy, giving the best of yourself?

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.

2. MASTERY - The desire to get better and better at something that matters.

If you look at small children, you can notice their curiosity to find out about their world. Lifelong learning is about curiosity and the adventure of discovery. It keeps you young. What area, or areas, would you like to master?

What matters to you? Would you like to learn a language? Develop your computer skills? Improve your ability to communicate and get on better with other people? Be able to maintain a positive focus and attitude in challenging conditions?

Explore this exercise - it only takes a few minutes. I have adapted it from one offered by Steve Little.

What does success mean to me?
I'll know I am successful when....
Success is....

1. Take 3 deep breaths to calm the mind
2. Read one of the above
3. Instantly, respond with the first thought and write it down - no "editing"
4. Repeat 3 to 5 times
5. After the final time, let the information flow spontaneously. Write a narrative about success as you experience it.

3. PURPOSE - The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

Purpose answers for you the question: Why? Purpose gives you a sense of meaning from what you do.

Purpose is more than having something to get up for in the morning. It is about the feeling of excitement or keen anticipation for the day ahead. Knowing your purpose takes you from simply surviving to thriving.

Good luck is another name for tenacity of purpose.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Urge, desire and yearning are all qualities that come from within you; that naturally guide and direct you. You may need to step back from the busy-ness of your life to listen more closely to how you can make the most of your career and life. I do not recommend leaving a job for the sake of it. But give yourself the time and space to consider what you would really like to be doing, if you are not already. Then make a plan to go for it.

Do you already enjoy autonomy, mastery and purpose? Do you have a yearning to do something you have not already done? What small step could you take to bring you closer to the career of your dreams?


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