Do you have a job that changes lives?
“I found a new job!”, an ex-participant who I guided through outplacement, e-mailed me the good news. He thanked me again for my guidance, that I took upon me with a lot of joy and love, because I happen to have the greatest job in het world. I make people believe in themselves and I make sure that others can see it too, so they can find a job that makes them happy. In our philosophy we state that everyone has the right to feel competent and useful.
In my job as a careercoach I see people on a daily basis who are asking more and more questions, mostly around the age of 40, about the usefulness of their job. Up until that point they did it because they enjoyed it and because of a whole lot of good reasons: because the job itself was fun, because they had a good employer, because they had fun colleagues, because they learned a lot,… And suddenly it’s no longer enough. “I wonder what I’m doing here”, one of my clients told me, “all this time I spent doing my job, does it change anyone’s life for the better?”.
A little while ago I had the privilege of attending a keynote by Christian Tidona, the founder of BioMed X Innovation Center, a man who has been actively entrepreneuring in the world of biotech. He asked us a triggering question: how much impact does your job have on the world? How many lives are directly or undirectly made better by the work (or other activities) that you do? That question has been on my mind ever since. Can anyone have impact through their job or activities? And how can you, if wanted, elevate your impact?
How much impact do you have on a better world?
The way to get to know your impact is simple: you count the amount of zeros to your answer on this question ‘how many lives or people do I reach in a positive way by doing the things that I do?’ is your answer 10, then you receive an impactscore of 1. Are it 100 (or 900) then you get impactscore 2. Are there 10.000 then your impactscore is 4. Are you only having an impact on yourself, then your impactscore is…0. It’s this doubt that made me decide, back in the day, I no longer wanted to work in HR. As a recruiter I could reach a certain score, but with the other things I was doing, I wasn’t so sure. Time for a change.
How much impact do you want to have?
The need to live a meaningful life varies a lot from one person to the next. I always try to broaden my clients perspective, just like Stephen Covey does in his “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. If you look back on your life and career, what do you wish to have left behind? What will make you say ‘it was good (and too short)’? And do your daily activities allow you to do that? As a career coach this question is rather ‘easy’ to answer. And still this question often wanders if there isn’t more I could do. Because there are still a lot of unhappy people walking around on this earth, the job market is changing more rapidly than ever and there are always people who can’t find their place or are convinced that they have nothing to offer. It breaks my heart.
And where can you find this impact?
First and foremost I’m convinced that your impactscore is much bigger than you probably think. Not only in your job, but in everything that you do in your life. If you raise your children to be good people, who then go on to have impact on other people’s lives. Maybe you give sport or music lessons in your spare time, or maybe you have a shoulder that a lot of people lean on? Maybe you write a blog about things that happen to you, and people read it and thank you, maybe you sell clothes so the men and women who buy them feel pretty, maybe you volunteer once a month to read surprising and exciting stories to 25 toddlers, maybe you are a kindergarten teacher and you have seen an entire generation of kids pass by and you saw them grow up into adults who drop off their kids in your class,.. Everyone, even the lady or men who cleans the toilet has impact on the world (I can guarantee you I’m often really glad that they’re there when I need to hurry from train to train). You can have impact in so many ways. I never looked at it like that before, and it put the things I do and what I did in a very different perspective. It makes it useful and relevant.