How to Find a Career You Love by Marcus Buckingham was Harvard Business Review’s most popular webinar in 2023.
For regular watchers of the talent space, this will probably come as no surprise. Three years of living through a global pandemic changed us. We emerged as changed people, looking to make meaningful changes in our lives – especially in our working lives, which accounts for so much of our waking hours.
Three things I love about this webinar are:
- Buckingham, himself – Not only is he is the world’s leading researcher on strengths and human performance. He is an exceptionally innovative thinker; talented at extracting forward-thinking insights from research data. As Head of People + Performance at the ADP Research Institute he has been doing this working for over 25 years now, and only continues to get better at it.
- “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your whole life again” myth busting – This is a lovely statement; but one that Buckingham says is not real, in that there is no data to back it up. And he has searched for it! What his research has found instead is that – successful people learn to find the love in what they do. This shift in understanding is a game-changer for three reasons:
- Firstly, knowing that nobody loves all of their job, all the time – not even extremely successful people – frees us up from the mistaken belief that there is a “perfect job” out there, waiting for us, if only we could find it! This is a damaging and very disempowering belief system to work from. Instead Buckingham’s data shows that successful people find the love in what they do and then do those activities everyday.
- Secondly, building on the research from the Mayo Clinic 20% rather than 100% has become the new threshold number – in that if 20% of the activities of your day, everyday, are things you love to do then you will be far more creative, resilient, collaborative, engaged, and happier in your work. For most people 20% is an attainable target to proactively aim for.
- Thirdly, Buckingham is on a mission to rehabilitate the word “love” and to bring more of it back into our places of work. And with good reason too. Advances in neuroscience have enabled us to appreciate how our “brains on love” are significantly smarter. When we are doing something we love our brains are fired up on a chemical cocktail of: oxytocin, anandamide, vasopressin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. This love-cocktail fuels our appetite, which in turns fuels our learning, which in turn fuels practice, which fuels excellence. So, it turns out that wherever you find excellence, you will generally find love there too. And what workplace isn’t interested in excellence!
- “The “what” you do is more important than the “why” or the “who” you do it with” – While a little controversial, this is excellent advice for anyone looking to identify whether a future role is a good-fit to their strengths. It is not to say that the “why” of an organisation’s mission is not important. It absolutely is, 100%. But finding yourself promoted into a poorly-fit role, even if it’s for an organisational mission you believe in and involves working with people you admire, is not a good recipe for high performance or wellbeing. Instead, getting really clear on the “what” – the precise activities you will be doing on a typical Wednesday afternoon is by far a better indicator as to whether or not a new role will nourish you in the ways you need it to.
Regardless of where you are in your career – whether that’s just starting out, or in the middle or coming towards a closing chapter or starting a new chapter – this is an excellent webinar that will inspire your thinking and can help you change your approach to your current situation. We’re all living longer now and have a lot more career runway to play with.
These invaluable insights are at the heart of our corporate talks series such as- Discover Why “Love” is the Key to Career Success and the Ultimate Career Accelerant and our talent acceleration programmes like Promotion Ready, which are designed to help you unlock your full potential. To learn more about these offerings, you can do so here.
Wishing you well,
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