We have to have filters through which we see the world. Otherwise, we’d be overwhelmed by it all. Our filters are unique, shaped by our families and cultures, our own predispositions, education and philosophy; and our filters are colored by our inner wells of hope and love, fear and hurt. So, for example, you might have a filter this morning on email that frames it as, “an annoyance and a waste of time,” or a filter that frames the email – okay, this is hard to imagine – so that you think: “Isn’t it great that all these people want to be in touch with me?!!!”
One filter that 99% of us share is: “I want to have a good J-O-B.” A job is like a big slot out there that we slide into, which we hope will fit. We get the job, do most of it, and the check comes every two weeks. Maybe one day we step up the ladder to a new box/job that we slide into to do what that job description says.
I think that basic filter of the J-O-B serves us poorly these days. I like this view of earning a living better: “I’m going to create so much value in the world that I WILL be well compensated.” My activity to earn a living might include a job (or two), or a contract or two or three, or stuff I sell, or services, or a duplex I rent, or many combinations of these activities. But it’s not a box into which I fit.
A friend of mine is a very successful entrepreneur who sold the business he toiled to build. The company endures, employing over 40 people. He and I were talking about J-O-B-s. He said, “When I interviewed people, I would say, ‘Why do you want to work here?’” Almost every time, they would say things like, “I need a job,” and “I like your company,” and “I’ve heard good things about your place,” and “I’ve always wanted to be in this industry.” He said that almost never did he hear, “I want to work here because I know I can add value to what you do.” Or “I like what your company is all about and I want to make it better.” They saw the company as a thing and the job as a thing. As an entrepreneur he saw the company not as a thing but as a constant activity, risking, pursuing, calculating, creating, partnering, competing to make something better and the whole, profitable. And he was looking for people who’d see the job not as a static thing to occupy but as a place from which to create, add value, find savings, and wow customers. Isn’t the difference between the “thing” and the “activity” stark?
Michigan, in particular, is dying for entrepreneurs – within and without – to make us alive, to seize opportunities that exist in tough times, to risk, and to fight to make risks winnable. Filling the box of the J-O-B – especially when there are not enough jobs – will not be enough. So…
I’d invite you to quit your J-O-B today. And begin – or begin again – to examine how you can add value every day to others in their work and lives; don’t fill a box, but instead create something great. It’s the heart of entrepreneurism: to create value for other people, for which they are happy to pay you in return. It’s also the heart of the most important work we do – raising children; that’s not a job but an extraordinary activity of creation and Value adding!
Lead with your best self!