Oh, The Places You Will Go In Your Career

D-H-bus-500* The winner of the copy of Delivering Happiness was Christine Bouck

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

- Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

There are some adventures you can never see coming. They sneak up on you and all of a sudden you realize how lucky you really are to be on the journey.

Look back on your career and where it’s taken you and who you met along the way. It’s usually quite astonishing.

From the quirky guy with the weird mustache who says “um” too much to the old lady who won’t stop smiling. From the hotel with lumpy beds to the hotel with a view and the most glorious bed that you’ve ever slept on and wish you could take home with you.

You are living a once in a lifetime career.

Is it perfect?

Nope.

But still amazing.

Too often we get caught up in worrying about what is wrong with our careers when we need to be looking at all the wonder right in front of us.

We complain about our co-workers, too much travel or that we don’t make enough money.

Sometimes it’s hard to see all the positives and we need to really take the time to appreciate all the amazing adventures we’ve been able to create.

Amazing Places

I recently was invited to visit the Downtown Project in Las Vegas by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. This happened because I met Tony at the SxSW conference in Austin, TX. He and I share a common passion, happiness. His book and business, Delivering Happiness, are an inspiration to me.

While hanging out with him he asked me what I thought was the most surprising happiness research that I came across. I wanted to seem really smart and instead of telling him that I thought Daniel Gilbert’s book Stumbling Happiness (his wonderful TED talk) was really surprising, it basically explains that we are terrible at predicting what makes us happy, I told him that I thought that enjoying the present moment was much harder than anyone tells you, explains or teaches.

At first I kicked myself for saying this because I thought I was saying this to look really smart, which I was, but then I began to see why I actually said this. My own, enjoying the present moment, struggles are very real indeed. I really wasn’t that surprised by Daniel’s book because every time I had a great moment then tried to recreate it I always felt disappointed.

I was also invited to do the  presentation, Unlock Your Career Superpowers, while I was there. 10 people showed up. One lady came up to me after I was done and said, “You were awesome, really awesome. Thank you so much.”

It made my day.

Career Moments

What I struggle with is enjoying the moment I’m presently in to its fullest. There was this split second thought of disappointment, wishing more people attended, but then I realized I was so lucky to be able to help 10 people improve their career.

As I looked back on how I was invited to Vegas, get a chance to meet and hang so many amazing people like the founders of Romotive (the company that turns an iPhone into a robot), Jenn Lim, the CEO of Delivering Happiness and her crew, people from MIT, Harvard and so many other amazing people, I saw why I should never take anything for granted.

I realized that I was doing a lot of cool things with my career. I started thinking about how average my mind was compared to some of the brainiacs I met on my trip. I couldn’t construct and code a robot, but I realized they probably don’t have a lot of my superpowers either.

You don’t need a Harvard degree to have a great career. I’m telling you this because you have superpowers that can take you to great places if you do a few things.

1. Put Yourself Out There

The only reason I was invited out to Vegas was because I put myself out there. I emailed Tony Hsieh and asked him how I could be more help to Delivering Happiness. He responded by inviting me to Las Vegas for a visit

The connections you make in your career are the friendships that will take you to great places and meet amazing people. Don’t be afraid to email someone you met years ago just to see what is up. You never know what can happen.

2. Be Yourself

Sometimes the hardest part is just being you. Yes, you really want to impress people, but you have to let them connect with the real you. The people who you allow to know the real you will give you a greater chance of creating an authentic friendship that could help your career.

If you don’t allow people to connect with the real you, you won’t make the right type of connections.

Let go of trying to impress and the people you are meant to have lasting friendships will like you and want to help you. It’s these people that make for an amazing career.

3. Stay Connected

This is the hardest part. You get busy in your life and career. You forget about people you met last month let alone last year.

You have to be diligent. If you feel a kinship for someone don’t let this friendship fall away. Check in with them every few months. See what they are up to and if you can be of help in any way. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how this deepens your friendship.

Remember

You career will take you to amazing places and introduce you to amazing people. Never take this lightly.

You are on a fantastic career adventure if you choose to look at it this way.

Your Turn

What is the greatest adventure that your career has given you?

* Remember to answer this question in the comments below for a chance to win the book Delivering Happiness.

Comments

  1. My career really forced me out of my comfort zone and helped me to learn how to relate to just about anyone. I was forced to attend a Dale Carnegie class that taught me a ton. It taught me so much and I realized that meeting new people did not have to be a scary proposition.

    • Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy says:

      Hi Jennifer, Dale Carnegie is a big reason why I started this website. I fell in love with his books and wanted to have a similar impact on people’s lives.

  2. I’m not sure if this counts as an adventure, but my favorite moment was realizing I’m doing what my younger self always wanted to do–make movies. Let me be clear. I am low man on the totem pole. I’m a coordinator at a VFX company and my daily duties aren’t terribly exciting. But I have to stop and remind myself, “Hey, this is cool!” My hometown movie theater recently closed and it broke my heart because that was the place I’d sit and dream of making movies. Then I realized just how proud my childhood self would be to see that I get to help make movies, just like I’d hoped. Am I selling screenplays like I always dreamed? No, but there’s time for that, and I’m right where I need to be. Thanks for the reminder to take a moment and reflect on the good things about my career. I don’t know why that’s so hard sometimes.

    • Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy says:

      Hi Natalie, I think it’s hard because we focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do. This is natural and pushes society forward. Sometimes we get too caught in this trap though. The key is to create habits that remind us to enjoy where we are and how good we have it. I keep a daily journal focused on gratitude and ideas. Just the act of sitting down to write in it makes me happy.

  3. My current career through Facets has expanded and changed my entire life. My intent was to share my heart space on the web…one year later I can look back and see that as I learned skills and created through Facets, my heart space opened…as my heart space opened, I learned and created more..online and off.

    A concrete example: I began Facets meetups the same month I created my site. Instead of staying local, I went to Los Angeles. Three people attended. One became a close friend, one reminded me of the fun of dress-up and glitter and performance, and one is a soul-mate. Each remains in my life today. More than that, though, there was a bit of time before my meetup, so I went exploring with my new “glitter and performance friend” who convinced me to walk into a Cirque du Soleil office and inquire “how” to audition (my teenage son’s dream). One year later, my son is training on aerial silks, performing locally. (really…did your jaw drop??). I wouldn’t have gone into the office without her, and I wouldn’t have met her had I not held a meetup.

    That first meetup led to other local meetups. Preparing materials for each gave me a structure for 1/2 day conferences…which naturally evolved into offering offline retreats. I say that in a tone that implies it was “easy”…I had a dream of hosting offline retreats, but I originally didn’t “know how”…yet the format naturally rose with each step I took.

    One small step of faith, to host a meetup..reminds me time and again..it’s not about the “numbers”..it’s about creating and connecting, and allowing Source to meet me when I step and amplify that energy…

    That is *one example* in the past year..presence is the foundation of my life, and presence to possibility is life changing in ways beyond what one can imagine :)

    • Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy says:

      Hi Joy, That’s a wonderful way to looking at connections. You are so right, it’s not about the numbers it’s about the relationships we create and nurture.

  4. Siobahn Pellegrino says:

    Thank you for an amazing post! It is so true that you get caught up and forget to connect. We are all inundated by information and technology. You might as well use them to help you! Try setting up a reminder on your calendar to reach out to one person a week/month..whatever works for you!

    The greatest adventure my career has even given me is the one I’m currently on…. surrogate mother to 50 young people in the role of “warehouse den mother”! Never thought this would bring me happiness….but it does! I applied for the job 9 years ago on a whim and it has been the greatest career experience, allowing growth and challenges.

    • Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy says:

      Hi Siobahn, It’s amazing what a random choice, or what seems like random at the time, can direct your career in the direction it’s meant to go. What is a warehouse den mother?

  5. I have a sign up in my office that says “Sometimes on the way to a dream you get lost and find a better one.” That sentence sums up my career so simply and reflects to me what you said in your post. I started imy career as a special ed teacher but downsizing and a financial need for a 12 month position led me to seek opportunities outside the traditional education path.

    I eventually found what I thought was my dream job working with students with LD in a groundbreaking new college program. The concept and students were wonderful. My new boss, however, was a nightmare. She verbally and emotionally abused me for years. During that time I earned my master’s degree and decided that I wanted to teach at the college level. I was accepted into my dream school and given an assistanceship to cover the entire cost of tuition plus a stipend. Unfortunately my husband couldn’t find a job near my school, so I was forced to withdraw my application. Relocating by myself was not an option, so I pushed my dream of a PhD to the back burner and began to search for another job.

    In February, after more than 2 years of looking, I finally found my current position. I took it because it sounded fun and moved us closer to universities offering PhDs in education. (I still wanted to teach.) I had no idea that this would turn out to be my dream job or that by inviting people from other departments to hear me speak I would eventually begin a professional development/team building business of my own.

    In reading your blog, I realized that this journey has embodied the three steps you mentioned. Through those steps I have embarked on one of the craziest most wonderful times of my professional life. It’s a reminder that new and exciting opportunities only come along when we allow ourselves to explore and be open to changes. You have inspired me to take some new steps today-contactiing old aquaintances and putting myself out there again. After the years of hearing how inadequate I was at everything I did, it’s been difficult to be completely open and show people who I am. You’ve reminded me that it doesn’t really matter if people don’t like me. As long as I am my authentic self I have the opportunity to make meaningful connections with people who will.

    • Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy says:

      Hi Christine, You took what I was hoping people would take from the blog post. I want people to create connections from their authentic selves and not let anyone or anything keep them from going after their dreams. When we are done with these lives the projects we will be most proud of are the most difficult.

      We all have fear (AKA arch nemesis) inside of us telling us what we can’t do, but when we actually listen to her she is just prodding us to take action.

  6. The greatest adventure my career has taken me on has an exploration of my own heart and soul.

    My love of animals and the outdoors took me on a path of becoming a professional wildlife biologist. However,I soon encountered an atmosphere that did not agree with my moral standards and it took a major toll on my health. So, contrary to the advice of family and colleagues, I left that job (and the wonderful retirement and health insurance that came with it).

    That led me to the adventure of treading through shelves of self-help books and endless pages of online advice. I was trying to excavate parts of myself that had been long buried in forgotten childhood memories. What made me happy back then? What could I do for hours on end? Who am I, really? It was a life-saving journey that I wouldn’t have taken if I hadn’t had that job as a biologist.

    My new career choices have allowed me to be more involved with wildlife than ever. I’ve surrounded myself with people who enjoy life and the work we do. I see things that I value and make every effort to include them in my day. My career has also allowed me to have time to mentor young students and help them get excited about their future and the many career possibilities that await them!

    The adventure through my own soul has helped me see what makes my soul beam and focus on what is good about each day.

    • Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy says:

      Hi Alyssa, That’s the beauty of a great career. It forces us to work on improving ourselves as well as helping others. I feel very similar about my career. I feel blessed to help people such as yourself do work that lifts your soul, heart and over all life to a great level of happiness.

  7. Martha Goff says:

    Love the comments that others have posted here. I am not there yet but I will be, I promise you (and myself).

  8. I have had a long and wonderful career until three or so years ago when restructuring the health system ended my then role (which I loved. It lead me into administrative roles, which I did reasonably well, but did not allow my authentic self to fulfilled (also had to deal with an unsupportive boss who gave me a lousy performance review over the phone!). The whole experience lowered my self esteem and got me to a point where I no longer enjoyed work. I am still working on finding my true path but I think I am getting a bit closer, in that I am working again in a front line job with several good teams. I feel more valued and supported, and that counts for alot!

    • Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy says:

      Hi Monica, Sometimes we do have to take a step back in our careers, but I love to hear that you aren’t giving up. I have a good feeling you have already learned a lot from the situation and will only use this experience as a stepping stone to a better career.

  9. Congratulations, Karl, on the Zappo’s opportunity! I appreciate that you shared how you met Tony Hsieh at SXSWi. Exciting!

    I’ve been been fortunate to work with some of the most creative, kind and generous people. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be a part of their worlds if I hadn’t taken the scary step out of my corporate career into consulting. Then moving into a more entrepreneurial world, it’s amazing to see what people are doing to contribute to this world. I get to be in awe with inspiration a lot of time too. It’s all an adventure!

    • Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy says:

      Hi Joy, There are so many amazing people doing great work. We are only meeting a fraction of them, but each one is truly a blessing. I love that you think of your career as an adventure. It’s this attitude that will take you to amazing places.

  10. Point #1 really resonated with me – as a newer blogger of career advice, I have been amazed at what opportunities have presented themselves just by putting myself out there…from speaking to groups to getting links on other bloggers websites!

    As far as adventures go – I have moved 8 times in the last 12 years with 3 different companies…so I feel like I started an adventure back in 1999 that hasn’t slowed down. The best part are the people you meet along the way.

    • Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy says:

      Hi Tom, Putting yourself out there is so important to connecting with amazing people. The more risks I take in my career the more people I meet.

  11. Ambassador Bruny says:

    Great post Karl. My multi-tasking career has brought me so many cool adventures. One of my favorite came about when I was writing for an online magazine. We were invited to a fundraiser that had Wyclef set to perform.

    The event was in a museum and as I was standing around in my bow tie, someone came up to me and said, “You a reporter; wait right here.” Next thing I knew I was being escorted to the room where Wyclef was hanging out and had a chance to interview him. Of course I had to make up the questions as I was being escorted to the room but it all worked out. It was good to connect with my fellow Haitian brethren.

    • Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy says:

      Hi Mike, Meeting Wyclef must have been really cool. You could have said you weren’t a reporter or you weren’t prepared, but you seized the moment and that’s awesome.

  12. Hi Karl, congratulations on the great message you are spreading. I’ve always tried to do my best no matter what the job, even ironing shirts, decades ago. And then there was a marriage breakup at age 56 and I wound up owning a multi-million dollar company! Did I ever think or even aspire to be there? No! Am I enjoying it? Yes! Most of all I enjoy teaching others to enjoy happiness by committing to and enjoying the moment.

    • Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy says:

      Hi Gudrun, Sorry to hear about the break-up, but looks like fate has dealt you great cards. It’s so good to hear that you are making the most of it. If you ever need company culture help, please let me know. I would love to help. :)

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