The 3 Components of Job Satisfaction

Recently, a woman approached me after I finished a keynote presentation. In the speech, I had mentioned the importance of living with intention.

A Wooden Kitchen Match Striking on a Grey Slate Surface - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/TheCrimsonMonkey, Image #7829867

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/TheCrimsonMonkey

She got stuck on that thought and realized she had not been intentional, particularly as it related to her career.

As it turns out, she was a doctor with a very successful business. She was making more money than she had dreamed possible. She had a very busy practice. But she was deeply unsatisfied.

“If I’m honest, I think I became a doctor because my father was a doctor. It was expected. I didn’t think I had a choice,” she confessed.

Her eyes welled with tears.

“But I hate it,” she continued. “I only get to spend a few minutes with each patient. I feel like a factory worker on a conveyor belt. It’s all I can do to make myself go to work.”

She was good at what she did. Her practice was exploding. But she had lost her passion.

As I later reflected on her situation, I realized job satisfaction requires three components.

  1. You must be passionate. This is where it begins. What do you care about? What moves you? What problems do you want to solve or issues you want to address? If your heart is not in your work, you have a job but not a calling.
  2. You must be competent. Passion alone is not enough. You have to be good at what you do. Being good-enough will not give you the satisfaction you desire. You have to excel at your craft and be awesome. Mastery is the goal.
  3. You must create a market. To enjoy a successful career, people must be willing to pay you for what you do. You don’t have to get rich, but there must be a market for your product or service. Otherwise, your career is not sustainable.

If you have all three of these components, you experience satisfaction. Few things in life are more rewarding.

I envision it as three overlapping circles. (Jim Collins has a similar model in Good to Great as it applies to companies.) At the intersection of all three is true success.

3 Components of Job Satisfaction

Be wary of only having two:

  • If you have passion and competence without a market, you have a hobby. We all know people like this. Living in Nashville, I know musicians who love what they do, are accomplished on their chosen instrument, but can’t pay the bills.
  • If you have passion and a market without competence, you have failure. If you aren’t willing to put in the hours honing your craft, it will eventually catch up with you. You will struggle to get hired or simply be flushed in the next round of layoffs.
  • If you have competence and a market without passion, you have boredom. This was the doctor’s problem. On the surface she had it all. But in her heart, she was missing the one piece she needed to find satisfaction in her work.

You can get by for a time with only two of the three elements I have described. But if you want to succeed at the deepest level, you must incorporate all three.

Questions: Do you possess all three of these components? What is missing? What could you do to become more satisfied in your work? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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