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Achievement is obtained with focus on Career Satisfaction

May 20, 2021
Memorial Day is coming. The transition date portending the end of the school year, summer vacation season begins, and we are in the middle of the business year. The focus at work is work.

There may be some attention being given to mid-year performance but for the most part now is about the routine of doing our jobs. Life seems predictable, less hectic as compared to the end of the year, beginning of the year activities. For the Corporate Grinder, it’s another day at the office. The Corporate Grinder is a label of honor that refers to most of the people in our economy. They are us our peers and colleagues. We go to work every day to take care of our families, have vacations, pay for college, and take care of our parents.

The guidance I received during my school years and transition into the work force was I needed and should expect to work. Attention was on using my studies to prepare me for a position in the economy, whatever that meant. If we use an analogy to Maslow’s hierarchy this would be the base level. Taking care of survival needs, food, water, and shelter. This is also considered carrying my own weight in our society. At the initial level we learn about showing up on time, the hierarchy of the organization and getting paid on a regular basis. It’s our ticket out of my parent’s home and launching into my future.

The next levels of the hierarchy are related to lifestyle. One of the common visions painted is having a relationship, owning a home, and possibly children. This gives motivation to work harder, endure the stresses at work for the realization of the vision. We are rewarded for consistency and productivity, for being a reliable employee working for the betterment of the organization.

Our visions may grow beyond just having a home and family. We start looking at where we live, the things we have, our lifestyle compared to others, and we notice there are additional possibilities. Our aspirations have us wanting more than just showing up, putting in our time, and just doing the job well. We seek more responsibility, more input on decisions, and the associated prestige. The expectation is more income and “respectability.” Participation in this level requires more than showing up. Surrendering control of your time, changing your relationships with some colleagues, and the demands of the job will occupy an increasing amount of our thoughts. The grind moves from personal production to managing others. The emphasis is on leveraging the people and resources available to increase productivity for the company.

What happens when we focus on Achievement and disregard Career Satisfaction?

For the Corporate Grinder, these are the common levels. We accept and expect these for the benefits described with each level. Most of us live our lives within this model and are very happy to do so. There are some of us who become tired and disillusioned by this structure. Often, we believe this structure is the cause for our discontent. We don’t understand why we aren’t happy now because we have misunderstood what made the us happy before. It’s easy to connect our joy to the income or things we accumulated. We didn’t notice it was what we were doing and how we were doing our jobs that fed into our joy. We now struggle with the idea of doing our current job another five years, yet we show up Monday because that is what a job is.

Corporate Grinders learn how to do their job and do it well. It takes work and effort to learn to do the job well, show up, and be dependable. We have learned things we never knew existed and now can feel trapped because we are pigeonholed. Too valuable to let transfer to a different job and we develop the idea that our uniqueness is tied to the specifics of our current job. This is self-referential and debilitating. The result is we feel trapped, stuck by our success.

When feeling today we are trapped by our expertise and limited by this specialty, our productivity and value will begin to erode possibly to the depth that could threaten our employment. It’s about knowing what allowed us to learn this job. What we were able to do to acquire the necessary skills and create the results. Our special sauce is in how we approached our work. We can recapture that love of our job we once had by reconnect with the magic that we bring to the job. When we do, we will find ourselves wanting to get to work Monday morning. Reach out to me or other resources to learn how you can make work fun again.