Episode: Don’t Love Your Job? You Have 3 Options

Michael Hyatt: Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt. And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work and succeed at life. I’m joined today by our host Larry Wilson. We’re missing somebody, Larry.

Larry Wilson: Yeah. Megan is not here. What’s up with that?

Michael: Megan is on maternity leave.

Larry: That’s pretty exciting.

Michael: She just adopted a brand-new baby girl, Naomi Louise, my ninth grandchild.

Larry: Wow!

Michael: Super excited about this. We fortunately recorded a bunch of episodes in anticipation of this, but a few we didn’t quite get done, because this happened pretty unexpectedly. So we have a few we’re going to do without her, and we just decided the show must go on.

Larry: In fact, like most babies, Naomi showed up at the least opportune time, because she came like three days before we were going to record the last couple of episodes to cover maternity leave. Naomi showed up early, but, hey, we’re going to roll with it.

Michael: Absolutely. I see this as an opportunity, because now we can say all of the things uncensored by Megan, and who knows where this is going to go.

Larry: Yeah. It’s just guys here today, just Michael and me and Nick, our producer, so, hey.

Nick Jaworski: And Michael has a beard.

Larry: Michael has a beard.

Michael: I have a new beard. I just got back from vacation, and the team that was here… They might have just been kissing up, but they said, “Don’t cut the beard. Leave it. It’s a good look on you.” I don’t know. I’m not convinced yet, but I’m going to give it a try.

So, today we’re going to solve a problem everybody faces at some point in their career. I’ve faced it. Larry, you’ve probably faced it. Nick, you’ve probably faced it. What to do when the job you have is not the one you want.

Larry: That has happened once or twice to me. I think it happens to just about everybody at some point in their career. Sometimes (I’ve known a number of people like this) they start out in one career and actually find out they don’t like it, which is kind of sad after you spent all that money on law school. Seriously. I’ve known people like that, who just abandon a law career because they want to do something different. I’m sure many other vocations as well.

Or sometimes (this happened to me one time) the job you have changes. I worked at a publishing house at one point, and I was an editor, editing manuscripts, acquiring books, and I really loved working with the authors and working with the books. Then as we grew, I was managing editors, so I was spending less time with the words and more time with the people who worked with the words. So my job changed.

Michael: I had almost the exact same experience in the publishing industry. I came in through the sales door, and then I got into marketing, and then I got into editorial, which I really loved because it gave me the opportunity to be kind of a literary midwife and help people give birth to their ideas. I so enjoyed that, but as I progressed in my career, like you, I ended up managing editors. Eventually, when I became the CEO of the publishing company, then I wasn’t even managing the editors anymore. We could have been making widgets, because 75 percent of my job was financial management.

I woke up not too far into it realizing I was actually pretty good at that, but I didn’t enjoy it. It didn’t get me out of bed in the morning. It didn’t get me excited. It did initially, because I like new things. So initially just the challenge of it, learning something new, but then after I got into it I thought, “There are a lot of people who could do this, and this is not something I really enjoy.” So then I was at a fork in the road. You know, “What am I going to do? Am I going to continue in this and continue to be a CEO doing what I don’t enjoy or am I going to launch out and do something else?”

Larry: This is exactly what we want to help people with today, because if you’re in a job and you wake up in the morning and say, “You know what? I think I’m in the wrong spot,” you really have three options, and we want to walk people through that today. I hope some people are going to find some clarity today, even make a move.

Michael: I do too. As we were thinking about this, I thought there’s probably a disclaimer we should offer. I think sometimes you have to persevere in a job maybe that you don’t like to see if you develop the aptitude for it or it becomes an acquired taste. Does that make sense? There are things at the beginning… We talk about this when we talk about the Freedom Compass, which is part of the Free to Focus content in my book, where we talk about the Development Zone.

Sometimes there’s stuff where you’re not yet competent, you don’t yet have the passion for it. I would say that probably today 70 percent of the stuff I do is an acquired taste. I didn’t enjoy it initially, and I definitely wasn’t good at it initially, but as I persevered and stayed with it, I sensed it was going to be important, and now I love it.

Larry: So we’re not going to tell people to just quit their job, but we want to help people walk through this process of determining, “What could I do if the job I have is not the one I love?” I should mention, too, I was able to talk recently with Ken Coleman, who is the author of The Proximity Principle: The Proven Strategy That Will Lead to the Career You Love. He has a lot of insight to share, and that’s coming up later in the show.

Michael: I’m super excited about that. Ken is one of my favorite podcast hosts. He has a great podcast that he does for Ramsey Solutions. It’s The Ken Coleman Show. If you guys haven’t checked that out, you should, and you will definitely want to after you hear Ken in a little bit.

Larry: The first option if the job you have is not the one you love is reshape your current role. How do we do that?

Michael: Well, let me go back to the concept of the Freedom Compass. We’ve talked about that on the show before. If you guys want to read more about it, I talk about this in chapter 2 of my new book Free to Focus. The Freedom Compass is an idea that at the intersection of your passion and your proficiency…in other words, stuff you love and stuff you’re good at…is something we call the Desire Zone. That’s true north on the Freedom Compass. That’s where you want to move toward spending the bulk of your time.

There’s a sense in which (this is just my worldview) God has wired us up such that the things we really love, the things that give us the most satisfaction are the things he has created us to fulfill. It’s our calling. We find our calling in that situation. The opposite of true north on the Freedom Compass is where there is no passion and no proficiency. We call that the Drudgery Zone. Part of the key to figuring out what your calling is or what you were made to do is to figure out where true north is, to figure out, “What am I passionate about, and what am I proficient at?”

That usually takes some time, which is why I advise people who are entering into college or just getting out of college, “Don’t just let that degree you have determine what you’re going to do, but be willing to be experimental.” For me, life is just one giant experiment. I try things kind of in beta, and if it survives and if I survive, then I’ll continue with it. Not everything I try works, and a whole lot of jobs I tried early on in my career didn’t work. I got into things that I thought I would love, but after I got into it I went, “This really wasn’t the dream I had.”

Larry: Job satisfaction tends to be a little higher with people who are over 50. It’s more acute in people in their 20s, 30s, moving into mid-career. Maybe part of that is just a natural sorting out of what I really want to do, what I really can do, what I really love to do.

Michael: Yeah, definitely. I think when we find ourselves dissatisfied, particularly when we’re at a younger age, we need to identify the things we can learn in that job regardless. For somebody who’s growing in self-awareness, for somebody who’s teachable and humble, there’s stuff you can learn. We’ve talked about it on the show before. You can learn stuff from a bad boss. You can learn stuff in a bad culture. It doesn’t have to be a total waste. A lot of it’s how we process it and how we interpret it. There’s what happens to us, and then there’s what we interpret or the narrative we lay on top of that.

Larry: So you want to talk about reshaping your role. You can reshape your role pretty easily because you own the company. What about some people who are mid-level or entry-level? They’re hired with a pretty firm job description. How are they going to go about reshaping the work they do?

Michael: Well, it begins with an honest self-assessment, to just ask, “Are there certain aspects of this job I like better than other aspects? Is there anything in this job that could be redeemed or that I’d like to get more of, and then what could I do with the parts of it I don’t like?” This also goes back to Free to Focus, because we can eliminate, we can automate, or we can delegate. Not everybody is going to have that full range of options, particularly early in your career, but there may be aspects of your job that, frankly, just don’t need to be done.

Now you may have to sell your boss or sell your board, but I think that sales experience or the ability to convince somebody or to influence somebody that it’s not in their best interest for me to persist in these things that I have determined, because I’m closer to the work, aren’t really advancing the cause or delivering the results all of us are expecting… Sometimes it takes identifying those and then proposing an alternative to the boss. Some of those things maybe could be automated, and certainly some of those things could be delegated, particularly if you have a team reporting to you or if you have an assistant reporting to you.

Larry: The first option if you don’t love the job you’re in is to reshape your current role. The second option is to reposition yourself within your current company. The key to doing any kind of lateral move is to be able to apply your existing experience to a future role. Most people can’t see how your experience applies to what they do, and you really have to sell them on it.

Michael: You do. I’ll tell you the first and most important person to sell is yourself, because most of us are highly critical. It’s easy for us to see all of the holes. We feel insecurity. We think, “Oh, I don’t have the experience. I don’t have the degree. I don’t have the training.” Honestly, if you’re a good thinker, if you’re creative, if you have any kind of experience, any of that can serve you in the job you’re trying to do. You just have to learn to look at the advantages.

I face this a lot of times when I’m coaching somebody. Maybe they’d like to start a new business and they say, “I’m too old” or “I’d like to go for that promotion, but I’m too old.” They talk themselves out of it before they’ve ever stopped to consider how that could be a strategic advantage. The fact that you’re older probably means you have more experience. You’ve made a lot of mistakes. (By the way, that’s the prerequisite for wisdom. You have to make a lot of mistakes.) You have some wisdom. You’re going to be more mature. You’re going to be less likely to react emotionally.

Those are just some of the things that if I were older I would say these are assets to me and what I could use in selling a prospective employer or even making a lateral move within a company. Conversely, I see it with younger people who say, “I don’t have the experience. Nobody is going to give me a chance. What do I know? I’m fresh out of college.” Well, you have to work with what you have. You have the energy and the enthusiasm of youth. You know you don’t know everything. You’re willing to learn. You’re open and teachable. So you have to work with what you have.

Larry: I think an element here, too, is a little bit of humility to say, “The path I started out on maybe isn’t the best one.” There’s a sense in which people get hooked into the “career path.” “I started out writing ad copy or in sales, so my career is in marketing.” That’s kind of what you could have said at that point in your career, but you said, “No, I really want to make a shift here.” That recognition is vital. It’s not saying, “I made a mistake; it was a terrible mistake,” but “I’ve started in this direction, and that served me well, but now a change of course is really going to serve me better,” even if it’s not what other people think is normal.

Nick: It’s interesting you say that. I used to be a music teacher before I was a podcast producer/editor. I was so involved online teaching music. I have a master’s degree in how to teach music. Then when I left teaching, I didn’t change my Twitter handle. It still said “Jaworski Music,” or whatever. Then one day someone said, “Well, Nick, you don’t do that.”

I was so sad, just to identify myself as no longer teaching music, even though I hadn’t for like three years. There’s an emotional hold we have on this thing that we spend… You know, I’d been playing music and getting ready for that for decades. Moving past that was maybe the hardest part, because I was like, “Maybe one day I’ll teach. Maybe I’m still this.” So there’s definitely something about just identifying yourself as no longer the other thing.

Michael: You raise a really important point. We have to be really careful not to confuse our identity with our role, because our role can be transient. We change roles. I may have told this story before, but my predecessor at Thomas Nelson, who had been the CEO for 50 years… You could understand if you were in a role for 50 years how that would be confused with your identity, just to yourself.

The day after I became the new CEO, he went to our CFO and said, “Well, if I’m not the CEO, who am I?” It was like an existential crisis, and it was a question about, “Well, if I’m not the CEO, if I’m not in that role anymore, do I even have an identity?” I would say this is oftentimes a big problem for people who are older who have been in a role for a long time and why retirement doesn’t always go so well.

One of the things I’ve tried to do in my career (I’ve not always done it perfectly) is to not get too attached to my role. In my case, I’ve changed roles. I tended to change roles back when I was in the corporate world every couple of years. Even since then, I’ve reinvented myself a couple of different times. Even in this role at Michael Hyatt & Company… I was the platform guy initially, and then I was the goal achievement guy, and then the productivity guy. Well, the truth is those are all aspects of who I am, but my role is not my identity. I’m all that and more, and so is everybody listening to this.

Larry: That thought about role versus identity is really huge for someone, especially like me, who used to be in pastoral ministry. I moved into it and out of it and then back into it and then back out of it. That’s a hard thing to sort out. I wanted to be a writer. I loved publishing, but I entered the ministry because I loved the church and wanted to serve. When I got a chance to move in one direction, I did that. Then a publishing job opened up, and I was all over it.

Michael: First of all, we have a lot of pastors who listen to this show because it’s about leadership and they’re all in leadership, but I see this a lot in pastors who feel trapped. As we were talking about a moment ago before we started recording, a lot of them can’t imagine how their skills would be transferrable outside of the ministry. You’re certainly a living testimony to the fact that they are. I know probably hundreds of pastors who, if they want to make a change, have the chops to be able to do that. I mean, you think about what it takes to be in pastoral ministry. That’s a wide range of people skills that are definitely transferrable.

Larry: If you can convince someone to give up their Sunday morning to staff the nursery, man, you can do anything. You really can.

Michael: That’s a super-skill.

Larry: Pastors are adept at sales and operations management, personnel management, so many aspects of business life that are transferrable.

So far we’ve talked about two options when you realize the job you have is not the one you want. One is to reshape your current role. A second is to reposition yourself within your current business. Now the third option is to re-career. Recently, I was able to sit down with Ken Coleman, host of The Ken Coleman Show, the EntreLeadership podcast, and also an author. He has written a new book, The Proximity Principle: The Proven Strategy That Will Lead to the Career You Love. Let’s listen to his advice on the option of finding a new career.

Ken Coleman, welcome to the Lead to Win podcast.

Ken Coleman: I’m thrilled to be here. Thanks for having me.

Larry: We’re talking today about the three options you have when the job you have is not the one you love. You can reshape your current role, you can reposition yourself within the company, and what we want to talk with you about is the third option, which is to re-career. My first question for you is…How do I know when it’s time to pull the plug on my career and do something completely different?

Ken: Well, there are going to be a couple of key indicators that are very clear or should be clear if you truly listen to them. One is “I’m not moving up here. It has been a while since I’ve even moved up the ladder.” If you have then mentioned that to your leader… “Hey, I have a desire to grow here. I want more responsibility. What can I do to grow? How can I make myself more valuable?” If that has been voiced (I hear that from a lot of callers on The Ken Coleman Show) and there has been no response, that’s your first indicator that leadership doesn’t see you as somebody they want to develop more and then ultimately promote.

So that’s the first sign. The other clear sign is that there’s just no connection to the work. You’re either bored or you have never had a connection to the work and it has just taken so long for you to realize that “This is just a paycheck, and I’m kind of tired of coming in week after week, month after month, year after year, and essentially moving this pile of rocks from one spot to another.” That’s the lack of meaning that we all will shrivel up and die if we don’t address it. So those would be two clear indicators it’s time to be looking to re-career, as you say.

Larry: A lot of people, listeners to this podcast, are probably in that position right now, and one of the things I think happens to people is that it’s kind of a disempowering feeling. You feel stuck. “I’ve been in this role for a long time. I have an education behind this career, and I really don’t know what to do.” How do you get beyond that first hurdle, which is “I just don’t think there’s anything else I can do”?

Ken: I love that you bring this up, because this is where fear and doubt come in. Fear and doubt are these ugly cousins, and they can paralyze us. The fear that “I’m going to fail on some level” or “People are going to think I’m crazy for switching careers at this stage of my life,” fear of just being rejected. These are three big fears, and then doubt that it’s too late, doubt that you don’t have what it takes. Those are what we see for most people.

In order to overcome those voices that are completely false, you have to begin to use this proximity principle, this idea of putting yourself around people who are doing what you want to do. I’ll give you an example. I had a guy call my show several months ago who had been in accounting, had been a certified public accountant but had longed to be in technology. He loved technology. That was the major he got into in accounting. It was kind of the safe path his mom and dad recommended. His dad was an accountant. We’ve seen this play itself out over and over.

He called my show and said, “How do I make the move? I’m 48 years old, and I’m terrified,” much like I just laid out. I said, “Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to identify in your local town people who are in similar roles to what you think you’d like to do in technology.” Because he had already mapped it out. “I’d love to be in this type of a role in technology, this specific sector of technology.”

I said, “Use this idea of the proximity principle” (well before we wrote the book) “to get around people who are doing that, and just have lunch and coffee. Ask them what they think is the best path for a 48-year-old guy who has your experience to be able to cross over. What do you need to learn? What do you need to do? These are qualifications. Then how much is that going to cost? Then based on your financial reality, how long is that going to take?”

These are three basic questions. If you get the answers to those three I just laid out by getting in proximity to people who are doing what you want to do and in places where what you want to do is happening, then all of a sudden it’s not so scary. The plan reveals itself. Those answers create a plan. So he did what I asked. He happened to know a neighbor, not very well, but he was about four or five houses down on his street. He owned a small business, which was a technology company. Had about 50 to 60 employees.

He went to lunch with this guy. Did not ask him for a job, just said, “I want to make the move into technology, and I’d love your insight.” He basically asked him a lot of questions, went to school on this guy. He had a wonderful time. They said their goodbyes. About six to eight weeks later, he gets an email from this guy who said, “Hey, I just approved a new hire today, and I think you’d be a great fit for it.”

He said, “If you’re interested, apply for it.” So he did, and he got the job. The guy called back and told me that story on the air. That’s one of the best examples of how you can switch careers…mid-life, late in life…by using the proximity principle. It’s not so scary when we actually make one-to-one connections with people and places. See, the right people plus the right places is always going to yield opportunity.

Larry: A lot of people are thinking probably (I’ve had these thoughts different times in my life), “I have the wrong résumé for the work I want to do. All my education is on this side. My experience is on this side, but I know I have an aptitude over here. I know I have passion over here. I know I can do the work.” How do you make that case to people?

Ken: You just revealed it. A résumé is worthless without a relationship anyway. Just for a moment, let’s just say you have all of the qualifications on the résumé. Let’s take your scenario and flip it. Your résumé is chock full of all of the right things, but if you don’t have relationships to open up doors for interviews… Really not even the interview. It’s just set it up beforehand. “You have to interview this guy.”

I know at Ramsey Solutions we now have nearly 900 team members. It’s almost impossible to get hired there if you don’t know somebody in the building, because we value personal relationships and knowledge. Is this person a good culture fit? Does this person have the skill set to do the job? So, if that’s true, and I think everybody listening is going, “Well, that makes a lot of sense…” That’s why a résumé is worthless without a relationship.

So now let’s flip it back to your scenario. It doesn’t really matter, because if you have the aptitude, to your point, and you have the desire to learn even more things… Companies in today’s world, in 2019, want good people, and they’ll train them. We’re seeing more and more… I’m talking Fortune 100 companies that are now lowering the requirements to get hired. It doesn’t even require a college degree anymore.

So, as you said, don’t let the experience factor on your résumé hold you up, because experience really doesn’t matter if somebody you know knows somebody in that company or you know somebody directly in that company, and they go, “Hey, I can vouch for this man or woman. They are somebody who we need to get in here.” So don’t be hung up on experience and résumés. Focus on relationships. That’s how you get jobs.

Larry: You talk about the proximity principle. I know you say you have to get around the people who are doing what you want to do. You have to get in the places where that’s being done. You also talk about the practices. Can you say more about that?

Ken: The practice section of the book is really, really practical. What do I do when I’m around the right people and in the right places? How do I maximize these opportunities? The idea of getting around the right people and the right places… That’s noble and that’s the first step, but if you’re a wallflower and you don’t actually connect, you don’t actually observe, you don’t actually act the right way by showing some humility and some hunger and gratefulness to be there, then you’re not going to get noticed and you won’t get more opportunities.

One of the things we talk about in the book that I think is most valuable is this idea of the proximity mindset. That I think is the most valuable practice. That is the idea of I’m going to always have my antenna up. No matter what level in my career, whether I’m a starter, a switcher, or an advancer…I’m killing it, I still want to keep moving up…I have to have this antenna up, always scanning for the right people who can teach me something, the right people who will allow me to do something, and then the right people I need to be connecting with because they bring their own wonderful network, that if I show value to them they will open up opportunities for me.

We talk about the proximity mindset being simply this: Know your role. Accept your role. Maximize your role. This is super valuable for anybody who’s still climbing the ladder. It’s not just something for 23-year-olds. This is good for the 33, the 43, if you’re still climbing that ladder. Here’s what those three things are. Knowing your role is about clarity. You have to be absolutely clear on what a win looks like. This allows us to win in the now so that we get the next.

The second thing is to accept your role. This is an attitude issue. I struggle with this even now at 44. I want all of the things that come with the next. I’m living the dream. Great opportunity from Dave Ramsey. Unbelievable platform and opportunity to do what I love, but if I don’t win in the now, if I don’t focus on being grateful for what I have now, not thinking about what I want 15 to 20 years from now, then that’s going to become a real problem. That’s an attitude issue.

Finally, maximize the role. This is an effort issue. This is about going above and beyond. This is about looking for opportunities to add value to your team members, to your leader, going above and beyond that clarity, that first factor. If you know your role, accept your role, and maximize your role, let me tell you something: you won’t have any issue with opportunity to climb the ladder. People will seek you out, because those three things done together are absolutely the formula for advancing.

Larry: Ken, any final thoughts for our listeners, some of whom, I’m sure, are thinking, “Is this the day or is this the week I make the leap and make my move to re-career?” What’s your final advice for them?

Ken: Don’t make a leap. How about a first step? How about another step after that? That’s why I wrote the book, because there is a tremendous amount of fear and doubt associated with moving toward what you know in your heart you want to do or making a switch when you have not made that your primary path and now you realize, “Is it too late?” It’s not. Here’s what I want people to hear. This book was written for you, because this is step-by-step, just one step at a time.

It’s as simple as deciding today to go sit down, like the guy I talked about earlier, with somebody in the field you want to get in. Just go have coffee. There’s no pressure. We’re not quitting our job. There’s no leap. It’s not, “Geronimo! I hope it’s soft when I land.” That’s crazy talk. No wonder you’re scared to death. Proximity is the proven plan, because I get out there and begin to talk, and as I begin to talk and connect, I begin to learn what I need to know, I begin to get the opportunities to do it, and I get more opportunities to connect. Before you know it, opportunity comes your way.

Here’s what I’m proud of. This is not my idea. I just called it the proximity principle. This is the secret to success for millennia. The reality is that opportunity will find you. You won’t have to be searching under rocks and aimlessly wandering. It will find you because you’ve put yourself around the right people and the right places. So don’t be afraid. These are gentle, easy, and actually really smart steps.

Larry: Ken’s book, again, is The Proximity Principle: The Proven Strategy That Will Lead to the Career You Love, and we have a link in the show notes of today’s episode at to the book, and you can also learn a little bit more about Ken’s podcasts, The Ken Coleman Show and the EntreLeadership podcast. Ken Coleman, thank you so much for being with us today on Lead to Win.

Ken: I’m thrilled and honored. Thank you.

Larry: So, the three options when you realize the job you have is not the one you love are to reshape your role or reposition yourself within the company or to re-career. Michael, you’ve been through probably every single one of these stages in your life.

Michael: I have.

Larry: What do you hope our listeners are going to take away today?

Michael: Well, the fact that they have options. There is no reason to stay stuck in a career you hate. Work is too important, life is too important to get up every morning and dread going in to work or on Sunday night… There are so many people who are listening to this who are dreading the beginning of the workweek and are living for Friday. That doesn’t have to be your reality.

We’re committed to people winning at work and succeeding at life, and winning at work… There has to be a psychological win. There has to be an emotional win. It has to be deeply satisfying. It doesn’t mean every day is like that. I have my bad days. You have your bad days. But in general, the trajectory of my career, the trajectory of my work is up and to the right, and I love it. I think every person ought to aspire to that, and I hope these options will lead them to it.

Larry: Well, we should thank Ken Coleman for being our guest on today’s podcast. So thank you, Ken. Michael, thank you for sharing these insights today.

Michael: Thank you, Larry, and thanks for joining us on Lead to Win. Join us next week when we’ll show you how to create a company people are begging to join. Until then, lead to win.