Here’s a Simple Formula for Finding Your Career Sweet Spot

One theme that’s been running through many of my conversations with clients lately is the adult version of “what do I want to be when I grow up.” People at all levels of organizations and a variety of life stages are looking to find real satisfaction in their careers.

We keep hearing about what tough times these are, economically, and I know that’s true on some levels: unemployment and under-employment are still higher than we want them; the gap between the poor and the rich is growing. More importantly, though – these are unrecognizable times, economically and socially – many things are different than they’ve ever been before. For instance, certain financial indicators that have historically tracked together aren’t tracking together.

And I think that sense of this time being unlike what’s come before is making a lot of people more reflective, causing them to think more deeply about what they want to do with their lives.  There’s some research to support this contention, as well. In 2010, Ogilvy and Mather did a study of consumer attitudes post- the 2009 recession. It summarizes  research they’ve done that shows consumers have a renewed focus: we are less convinced that money will bring us what we want, and less in pursuit of money as a specific goal.  We’re more interested in doing work that will satisfy us, and spending time with those we love.

So I thought I’d share with you some advice I’ve been offering clients about how to discover where you want to take your career.  It’s based on a model from Jim Collins’ Good to Great that’s become popularly known as the hedgehog concept.  Collins discovered that the “great” companies in his book focused on the intersection of three critical factors:

  1. What you can be the best in the world at (and, equally important, what can you not be the best in the world at)?
  2. What drives your economic engine?
  3. What you are deeply passionate about?

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Erika Andersen

Erika Andersen

Erika Andersen is the founding partner of Proteus, a coaching, consulting and training firm that focuses on leader readiness. Over the past 30 years, Erika has developed a reputation for creating approaches to learning and business-building that are custom tailored to her clients' challenges, goals, and culture. She and her colleagues at Proteus focus uniquely on supporting leaders at all levels to get ready and stay ready to meet whatever the future might bring. Much of her recent work has focused on organizational visioning and strategy, executive coaching, and management and leadership development.

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