Happy May Day!
During these times of “sheltering at home” and working remotely, there is an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of work and the career choices we make for ourselves. Perhaps this is a chance to consider our True Calling in a new (and exciting!) way, as the time spent away from the “usual grind” has allowed us to better understand those aspects of our jobs that we truly value.
The post-COVID economy will be significantly changed from the one we took for granted until last month. While much may be lost, there will be new ways of working that will make sense to conform with our emerging societal requirements and social norms. This excerpt from my book, What Matters at Work, is intended to facilitate such reflection.
In his influential book, Good to Great (2001), author Jim Collins shared extensive research regarding what really made the difference in facilitating the development of some companies from being merely “good” and profitable to being “great,” vastly exceeding success metrics. He adapted the Ancient Greek Hedgehog Concept, where we focus on greatness in a specific area, and achieve it by focusing on three intersecting circles of activity:
What are you Deeply Passionate about?
What can you be The Best in the World at?
What Drives your Economic Engine?
These three questions are essential to uncovering our True Calling, where Passion, Talent, and Economic Sustainability conspire to breathe life into our efforts. Without such clarity, our organization will fall short of its true possibilities and we, as leaders and members of such companies, will be unable to sustain the energy required to live fulfilling, satisfying, engaging work lives. So, how do we do it?
Exercise: True Calling
WHY: To clarify specific ways your work on What Matters connect to the things you feel “called” to do, with a sense of higher purpose and commitment.
HOW: This activity has two stages, each of which benefits from both personal reflection and partnering with a colleague for a peer coaching conversation:
Step 1: Draw your own “Hedgehog Diagram” using the three questions identified above. Individually, brainstorm a number of responses to each question. Be patient here – try to look at the question without being limited by your current role, situation, or career path… the Passion you have may relate to a field that is only beginning to emerge. (On a personal level, I have fundamentally shifted career paths a few times, with satisfying results.)
Step 2: Then engage in a conversation with a Partner to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the possible responses, finally settling on one answer that is worth testing out for its potential value (a prototype).
Step 3: Using this one answer, where your responses to the three questions intersect (a Hedgehog Response), engage in the second stage of the exercise.
The second activity involves another tool, the GROW Diagram. GROW is a peer coaching tool utilized in many organizations around the world where the acronym means GOAL —> REALITY —> OPPORTUNITIES/OPTIONS —> WILL.
Step 4: Complete the GROW Diagram and then discuss it with your Partner, where that person coaches you to consider how the Reality must be navigated to create Opportunities and Options to achieve your Goal, and ultimately to see where you have Will, or the energy to pursue a given Option. Ideally, you both complete the exercise and take turns coaching one another.
I have utilized these tools many times, in varied settings and contexts. I continue to be impressed by their capacity to inspire learners to be daring, to stretch beyond our usual expectations. Instead of thinking, “What can I do to get by?” consider, “What am I passionate about doing that can have significant meaning in the world?” With sustained commitment and the accountability of the peer coaching relationship, finding our True Calling can be one of the most important elements of the Wellness Journey.
I am also repeatedly impressed by the value of peer partners in such activities: Although our peers may lack any special expertise, or even have familiarity with the specific issues we are discussing, they often provide valuable guidance, clarity, and support as we wrestle with overwhelming challenges that have puzzled us. To have such colleagues and friends along this Journey can be immeasurably worthwhile, so choose wisely and be sure to thank them.