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Time for a Change? Three Ways to Rethink Your Current Job

Fall

Seasons have a powerful effect on us all. In the moment we might not be conscious of it, but with the smell of rotting leaves and shorter Fall days, we not only observe the changes around us, but we feel them in our bodies. 

So, in this current seasonal shift, I’m having a lot of coaching conversations about jobs and career changes. Perhaps I’m taking the seasonal metaphor a little too far, but it feels like many people are observing the leaves falling off their career trees, and now are having hard look at the branches, the trunk, and thinking about the roots deep underground. 

My role as a coach is to be the thought-partner and collaborator that enables a person to see the possibilities, go beyond their current frames and views, and drive a deeper conversation that goes down to those roots. 

In these conversations, I observe that people want to talk about their job in a singular unit, and then want to get (quickly) to decisions about the choices in front of them (before the winter snows begin to fall). It’s natural for there to be a sense of urgency around these kinds of conversations. I get it. 

But in that context, I have been seriously unpacking the word “job” a lot lately. It’s often the starting point or most accessible vernacular, but it’s a very narrow and constraining view of our working existence. We can do better. We can be more holistic. 

Our jobs are not the single identifier of our professional lives, nor are they our personal identity. As Dave Evans from Designing Your Life says, “people make the job, not the other way around.” We are much more than the role or title we have. In fact, it’s our leadership brand that is more elemental to our professional identity. 

I want to share how these coaching conversations have been shaping and how I’ve been unravelling the singular word “job” into its three fundamental components that all deserve a deep amount of reflection and examination: 

1. Content 

This is what you do from a functional perspective. You might be a marketer or an accountant or a data scientist…whatever it is, you likely have a core craft that is central to your professional value. This is the heart of where you have skills and mastery, and where you feel a sense of self-actualization and accomplishment on a day-by-day basis. Beyond the core craft, there is also your leadership content and how you support people across the organization. That can come in many form factors, such as direct manager, peer, mentor, or member of a leadership team. 

2. Container 

This is the job/role/function – the mechanical stuff. It comes with a title (did someone say VP?), which is often the shiny object that becomes the target of our affection and desires. It’s embedded in some org chart, connecting boxes and a variety of other shapes with little lines and arrows. It is typically created well before you arrive in the role, and it’s constrained and shaped by many factors that are out of our individual control. It also comes with many other important elements that matter, like compensation and internal status in an organization. 

3. Context 

This is often the part of the equation that gets the least attention, and yet it is often the most powerful part of making sense of our work. It’s the people we work with and spend the majority of our waking hours with each workday. It’s the culture that drives people to work together and interact with each other. It’s the values that guide an organization and help them make their decisions. It’s the purpose that the organization is united around and give them the “why” that matters so much. 

To bring this to life in real life, here’s how this looks for me: 

  • Coaching and leadership development is my content. 
  • Fluency Leadership and my role as Chief Business Officer is my container. 
  • My biz partner Cath and our collaborators and clients define my context. 

With this more fulsome and open-aperture view, we can then see more of what we need to see. Rather than being a jumbled set of emotions and experiences, we can parse out our working experience to explore the deeper root questions: 

  • How much fulfillment do I get in the actual work each day? (Content) 
  • How valued and appreciated am I in the role I have today? (Container) 
  • How connected am I with the purpose, culture and people I work with today? (Context) 

 This holistic examination of our professional existence can open the door to redesigning our current jobs into something more purposeful and mutually beneficial. It can also lead us to the courageous path towards exploring “what’s next?” in a new opportunity. And it can answer crucial questions like “what’s important” and “what do I need to thrive”.  

Nothing is static here, and we always underestimate how much agency we have in our journey to better. 

The phrase, “if you don’t what you’re looking for, you’ll never find it” feels apropos. Building a more fulfilling career and a future path forward needs a broad perspective and a purposeful direction. We need to know which problem we need to solve and be clear on what we want. Getting clarity on which “C” you want to improve in the future, helps us build our way forward with more purpose and pace by thinking beyond The Job. 

Which element of your job (Content, Container, Context) is working well for you today? 

Which element of your job (Content, Container, Context) is not working well for you today? 

Where do you have the greatest agency to make change today? 

If you were thinking of a new job, which element matters most to you right now? 

 

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