“I don’t cut hair” Coronation Street barber David Platt said, dreamily, in a recent episode, “I shape destinies.”
Studies show that he’s got the right idea when it comes to getting job satisfaction. Some people dread being asked ‘so, what do you do?’ Rather than feel stuck in a rut, we can mentally re-frame our job so that we can love it, rather than leave it.
Part of the Bigger Picture
One famous fable relating to this involves architect and engineer Sir Christopher Wren asking three labourers what they were doing. The first said ‘I’m working’, the second said ‘I’m laying bricks’, the third exclaimed, arms upwards, ‘I’m building a cathedral’. The third of these workers saw the bigger difference their job was making and felt he was doing so much more than making a living. Not unlike the (perhaps) urban myth when President Kennedy is said to have asked a NASA janitor about his job. He told JFK, while sweeping the floor “I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”
Do what you love
A true-life equivalent of this phenomenon was the supermarket bag-packer who had come to loathe her work. Run down and fed up, she craved a job where she could flex her social muscle and perform a role that enabled her to brighten people’s day. With help from a career coach, she realised a way to fulfill this was… to keep being a bag-packer. She saw an opportunity in her existing job that allowed her to use her key strengths, and her job satisfaction sky-rocketed from then on, as the focus of her day became, not about filling bags with groceries but about connecting with the customers she was serving, ensuring that her work, and the ways she engaged people, made their day better. Psychologist Martin Seligman highlights this example in his TED talk about finding authentic happiness.
Knowing your Strengths
But how do we get there, from loathing to loving our jobs? The secret is to know your strengths, to tap in to the things you do well, that make you feel happiest, and recognise the opportunities to put them in to play. This is something that Dyslexia Scotland’s Career Development Service explores with new clients, as career development isn’t just about getting a job, it’s about finding fulfillment, and sometimes that feeling is closer than you realise.
If you need a bit of help figuring out your top strengths, these self-understanding exercises are one way of helping you work that out.
Authentic Happiness questionnaire – available here.
What are your top strengths? How can you make the most of your top strength in your job, or even in your relationships and home life? How much happier would you feel overall applying those strengths?
Try it yourself. See what difference it makes to you. Tell us what changes you notice.
We have a drop-in career corner at DyslexiFest tomorrow (11am-1pm) where we’ll be chatting to people about making the most of their strengths.
Katie Carmichael, Career Coach