Career Pre-nuptials?

To what are we faithful? Fully dedicated? Unconditional in our commitment?

In our work life and careers, not much.

Our cynicism is powered by the times we have been burned. By the brutality of the workplace. Any idealism we had has been crushed by the harsh and heartless realities of the disposability of our talent and effort. So our scars become callouses and our hearts and minds develop immunities to being shattered again. Our faith in the system, in the world of work has been buried along with the ideals of our youth.

Cynicism can be justified. Our  faithfulness to our jobs and our work has been seriously compromised.

Just witnessed a wedding in person, the first since COVID, where two never been married people made the ultimate commitment to one another. It was beautiful and hopeful.

Still energized by the ceremony and the vows, I talked to a woman at the reception who said, “Isn’t it nice that people still believe in marriage, given the divorce rate.” Wow. She punctured my emotional blimp with her prickly point of view. She was divorced—naturally.

Divorce is a real thing, but we are not the averages, we are not statistics.

As in love and relationships we can be jaded by a bad relationship and give up on a soul mate. Or we can allow our broken hearts to open ourselves to who we are and what we need. To never give up on our goal to find true love and purpose.

Here’s one for you: We all die so why try to live?

Top questions I get:

WHEN DO I LEAVE MY JOB? HOW DO I KNOW IT IS TIME? HOW LONG IS LONG ENOUGH?

Sometimes this comes from a mid-career professional or even sr execs, but I get it from newly minted grads who haven’t started their employment!

I always love to make dating analogies with the younger folks 😊

So, before you make a serious commitment to your career/job, you’d like a pre-nup.

If you are not promoted, mentored, groomed for executive status in a timely way (less than 3 years) then you’d like to leave on your own terms and also get a 5 star reference.

You want a guarantee and a warranty.

WTF?

Yeah let’s plan the demise of a relationship at the beginning. That always helps both sides feel unconditional love. 😊

Let’s admit that almost all of us chose the job. We searched, we analyzed and we selected a path and an employer. We did this freely, with a sound mind, and without coercion…..

Like the most popular NYT article, Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person. We have lost faith in our path and our ability to choose and we consequently can screw things up.

Been to dozens of weddings, best man 4 times, officiated a couple of nuptials. I have asked many grooms: “Do you love her?” Crazy how many ask, “What do you mean?”

Do you love your job/career? 

Consistently, 85% of people say they dislike even hate their jobs! And when you ask people about their careers— People who have spent more time working than with their kids and even sleeping– provide nuanced answers. Rarely any words that emit certainty or joy or passion.

Some say poker faced lies such as: “I learn something new everyday.” “No two days are the same.” Or “Never a dull moment.” And the winner: “Love being busy.”

So why the pre-occupation on divorce or pre-nuptials?

Do you know what you want?

No wedding becomes a marriage without full attention and a faithfulness to the present. To what is happening now. Not where they want to go and the dream of the future but the current state of affairs, to “love and cherish, in sickness and health……..” is a NOW thing.

The status quo spurs the desire for change. Change triggers fear. Fear generates resistance. Resistance breeds complacency. Complacency endorses the status quo. And we return to the beginning.

Old Buddhist proverb: When you are bored, you have not done it long enough.

Have you fully invested in the advantages and opportunities of your current job/position/employer?

As you plan your escape, in the remaining time there, months, years—consider the unexplored depth and breadth of where you are–the human and technical world above and below your job. What could you add to your resume, what skills, knowledge and abilities could you polish, what insights could you glean from the veterans you work with?

Every job is like a degree program, or like a medical residency, to gain experience, knowledge and sharpen skills. To find the best role models and mentors. To take chances, fail fast, to gain insight into what you want and to move forward.  

Only you really know how your resume skips over  your weaknesses and the inadequacy of your toolbox that need to be addressed for you to be rightfully promoted to the C suite.

Yes, you want to connect the dots, to keep moving up. You think you see your future and the dots ahead. Connecting dots that add up to a compelling story and real success. When you fully invest in the dot you are on, give your full attention, the next dot will appear. You must become this dot.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Steve Jobs

You must have faith! You must re-commit. You must go all in.

No one wants to get stuck in a bad job or a bad relationship. No one has to, if you are in control. You are the captain of your little sailboat, take the helm and steer. And if the wind falters, row!

It makes me sick as I am counseling people making career changes, leaving one job for “greener pastures”. So consumed with leaving they can’t really remember how they grew as people. They can’t tell a credible story about how they optimized the time there. “Too busy”, “Too much stress”  “office politics” so many reasons why they did the minimum work. Work good enough for the position, but not extraordinary experience of learning and growing. And most do not depart with the most basic milestones—a better resume, a better human development story, a better mentor, and a better network.

Wherever you are is great—even if you hate it 😊 Because it is where you are. Stop drafting your pre-nuptial agreements or your exit strategies. Become more faithful to the opportunity you have and embrace your development. Plan to move on soon or down the road, but become this dot and optimize this moment.

Thanks for reading. John

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