In his thought-provoking HBR post, “Turn Your Career into a Work of Art“, Gianpiero Petriglieri sets the tone for real progress in how we all look at a radical re-thinking of what we would call “career”:
Whose life am I living? I’m sure you ask yourself that kind of question from time to time. What am I really good at? What is the purpose of my work? These are not new questions. Sooner or later, we all seek answers to them… Not only when we are struggling, but, paradoxically, when we are succeeding.
The challenge, then, is to find an “identity workspace“, where what you do “resonates with an audience”.
Audience is people. Again, what we do is important, that’s clear. More important, though, is for and with whom we do what we do, whose needs we address through what we do. This opens up an entirely new element, which we’ve kept unconscious for so long.
People, not what we do, will make us happy.
Finding people we like, finding our “audience”, people who inspire. Nurturing relationships which give us pleasure, stimulate our thinking…
All of this requires the ability to connect, and to do so in a wise manner, through careful selection. Selection is choice. Choosing who we like requires thinking, open thinking.
When I face people who come to discuss similar matters with me, I often ask a simple question: “How many people have you known, in your life?”. Answers to that vary from “A few dozen” to the bravest, who dare say “Maybe a thousand?”
Reality, though, is a lot more. Most of us highly underestimate the value of relationship and connection.
Someone living their life in professional services, since their mid thirties, is more likely to have known, in the broadest sense of the meaning, between four and in some cases as many as ten thousand people (think about all the people you’ve known during your school life, then the university, then your colleagues at work…).
We live a life of overexposure to connecting, not the opposite.
Hence, an important next steps towards a world of connecting wisely is that of sharpening the focus: “How many, of those thousand people, are those I like, those who can inspire me, those I find satisfaction in connecting with?”
Let’s write those few names (10 to 20) down, in a moment of rest.
That much smaller and more precious list is a starting point for connecting wisely, a good base for building our audience, these are people I want to connect with regularly, people whose advice I want and need to seek regularly.
I want these people to know they are on my list.