In my career, I have learned to rely upon three golden rules.
- Always stay hungry
- Always look to challenge yourself
- Always love what you do
A little over a year ago, I found myself with an increasing hunger. I believed this hunger could only be satisfied with new challenges and growth outside of my personal comfort zone. To accomplish this, I accepted a position as an Account Manager with Avaya.
Over the course of the next 14 months, I went on a personal journey of discovery. I learned the importance of celebrating personal milestones, which aren’t necessarily associated with success. I learned the humbling nature of failing to succeed, and the importance of persistence.
The Bell Falls Silent
In the movie “The Polar Express” the main character goes on a journey to restore his faith in Santa Claus. Along the way, he is receives a gift一a bell from Santa’s sleigh. At the end of the film, the narrator explains that the bell “fell silent” for his friends as their doubt grew. To hear the bell’s sweet sound, the owner must truly believe.
The farther I traveled on this journey, I came to realize that I could no longer hear my inner bell ringing. My inner bell rings not based on my belief in Santa, but when I believe I am on the right track.
What lost sight of was the fact that while there have been three rules which have guided my career, the last has always been the most important. As Steve Jobs said:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.”
Once I learned of this rule, I struggled to determine if I was fulfilling this personal requirement to the fullest extent. How do you measure how much you love what you do?
I discovered the answer when reading the book “Donny Deutsch’s Big Idea: How To Make Your Entrepreneurial Dreams Come True, From the AHA Moment to Your First Million”, Donny wrote:
“You know you’re doing what you love when Sunday nights feel the same as Friday nights…”
In an effort to address rules one and two, I lost sight of rule three. I could no longer hear my bell ring, because I had become the equivalent of a stool with two legs. I needed to rebalance my career.
Sometimes it’s OK to just be a Basketball Player
Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest Basketball player of all time, took a break from the sport to pursue a second career in Baseball. After two years, he realized that he wasn’t a baseball player and returned to the NBA, where he led the Chicago Bulls to three additional world championships.
While I am not arguably the greatest Systems Engineer of all time, I believe that I can offer more to my customers, partners, and my employer in that role. Luckily, Avaya agreed, and allowed me to return to Systems Engineering. After only three days, I have rediscovered my passion explaining to partners and customers how how Avaya innovations can solve real problems their businesses face. However the experience I’ve acquired along this journey will make me a better teammate and resource for my partners and customers.
If you learn anything from this post, make sure you always remain aware of your golden rules. If you lose sight of them, never believe you can’t get back to them. Always listen for your inner bell to inform you when you’re off-track, and finally, make sure your Sundays are just as exciting as your Fridays.