"It is not down on any map; the true places never are." – Herman Melville
When we are young, we're often asked: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
I think the better question might be: "Who do you want to be?"
As I look back over my personal and professional life, one thing stands out: I always wanted to make things better in the world.
Over the years, the "what" – how I've wanted to make that difference – has changed.
I've had a number of passions and interests, jobs and careers – from wanting to reclaim strip mines when I was 7 years old, to teaching environmental education in my teens, to immunology research in my early 20's, to public health managment in my mid-20's and 30's, and coaching now.
That might look like a weird career path to some people. But what has stayed constant – what hasn't changed – is my commitment and my values around contribution and service. It's who I am at my core.
But while my values of service and contribution have stayed constant, how I've chosen to execute those values has changed.
I still care about the environment, education, science and public health – a lot! But for now, the best way I believe I can make a contribution is through coaching others who also are passionate about making a difference, in their own way.
Crafting a successful career is about finding your own essential values and then dedicating yourself to following them. In fact your career path to date – whether straight and narrow or not – probably holds some clues as to what your deepest held values are. (Download my Unfold Your Road Map tool here if you need more guidance!)
A successful career path is generally one you've crafted yourself – it's unlikely to look like someone else's. In fact, if there was a clear path already, it means someone else has walked it.
Following a path informed by your values, your career path may not be straight, but it will be yours, genuinely, from the inside out.
In the comments below, I'd love to hear from you:
1) When you were a kid, what (or who) did you want to be when you "grew" up?
2) Fill in the blank: I wish I had known ______ when I was starting my career.