Monday, March 07, 2011

The Why of Work

For the past several years, we have worked with any number of thought leaders and practioners who are experts in a wide variety of fields and subjects.  With ExecuNet being both a career and business network the opportunity to learn from these folks has and continues to be a terrific experience and a major perk.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a chance to experience this once again when I hosted a program for our members that featured Dave and Wendy Ulrich, authors of  the national best-seller The Why of Work

When the program had ended and Dave, Wendy and I were chatting afterwards, one of the things I told them was how incrediably timely I thought the timing of this book was because as we continue to come out of the recession, executives, be they currently in transition or not, were going to be doing some super serious thinking about not just what they put "into" work, but more importantly to both themselves and their employers what they are getting "out of work." 

It is a question that is critical not only for companies who are going to be faced with retaining key players but equally critical for those who are faced with job offers and trying to decide if this is the move they really want to make.

In trying to help the listeners think about all this, the Ulrich's built their presentation around the following list of quesrtions: 

1. Identify: What am I known for?
2. Purpose and Direction: Where am I going?
3. Relationships and Teamwork: Whom do I travel with?
4. Positive Work Environment: How do I build a positive work environment?
5. Engagement/ Challenge: What challenges interest me?
6. Resilience and Learning: How do I learn from setbacks?
7. Civility and Delight: What delights me?

I still can't believe how much they packed into the 60 minutes of this program, but I was particularly taken with their remarks around #6 on their list (Resilience and Learning). 

I am not exactly sure why this particular section stuck in my mind expcet maybe as I thought about where we are in terms of the recovery and more importantly where we have been.  Talk about "setbacks" both collectively and individually! 

It is so easy to get discouraged, especially when there isn't a lot of postive stuff coming your way, and this is true for the company trying to sustain itself through tough times, or an indiviudal trying to fight their way back in a job market that is much more about rejection than acceptance.

If you are a member of ExecuNet and didn't get a chance to listen in to this program, it is, as are all our programs, available to you on demand, but member or not, this is a book you will want to have going forward as I think you'll find its content a roadmap for the role you're in or one that you are considering taking on.

Oh, and if at any point you feel like you have been knocked down more often than is "fair", the Ulrich's reminded us all of some of the stuff that a certain A. Lincolon had to deal with:

His parents were forced out of their home. He had to work to support them.
  1. His mother died.
  2. He failed in business.
  3. He ran for state legislature and was defeated.
  4. He lost his job. He wanted to go to law school but couldn't get in.
  5. He borrowed money from a friend to begin a business and lost it all by the end of the year
  6. He spent the next 17 years paying off his debt
  7. He ran for state legislature again and won. 
  8. He was engaged to be married when his sweetheart died and his heart was broken.
  9. He had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.
  10. He sought to become speaker of the state legislature and was defeated.
  11. He sought to become elector and was defeated.
  12. He ran for Congress and was defeated.
  13. He ran for Congress again and won. He went to Washington and did well.
  14. He ran for re-election to Congress and was defeated.
  15. He sought the job of land officer in his home state and was rejected.
  16. He ran for Senate of the United States and was defeated.
  17. He sought the Vice Presidential nomination at his party's national convention and got less than 100 votes.
  18. He ran for the U.S. Senate again and was defeated.
  19. He ran for, and was elected, President of the United States
I don't know about you, but I can't tell you how glad I am that he kept on 'truckin.

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