Why is it that some executives land a job within record time while others seem to linger in a search limbo, languishing without really looking? Yes, there are obvious external factors that impact the length of an executive job search: age discrimination, requirements of an industry, heavily impacted functions and a few regions in deep recession. However, external factors do not account for everyone in search limbo.
From what I have seen, the degree of passion and engagement a professional helps to determine the ease and ability to be out there and involved in that business and to be known and connected. They are just driven to do it and will continue to turn over rocks, go down paths and do whatever it takes to be in the game no matter how rusty or inept at networking they are.
Passion can be the crucial ingredient to future success when one is in a transition phase between employment, consulting engagements or startup opportunities. Passion generates the motivation and drive to act and to do with the requisite intensity and persistence in the face of adversity, obstacles and daily doses of bad news reports. Certainly money is a key motivator, but I have seen people leave substantial incomes because they were simply miserable going into work every day. Organizations change over time, new management teams are formed that may not be compatible.
Not too long ago, two founders of a nearly bankrupt startup folded the company and walked away rather than accept a buy-out offer tendered by a major corporation in the same space that would have ensured the company’s continuation and success. They were not willing to commit staying at the helm of what would be a corporate division for an additional two years to make the deal go. Without any real passion, these newly minted top-tier MBAs were driven by their passion.
Haven’t you seen people more consumed by their philanthropic work than their current position? That they pursue the former with more zeal than the latter can be a guidepost to other possible futures. They frequently come to realize that it is possible to make the avocation into the main career passion. Certainly, it is often too easy to be discouraged and dissuaded from making that kind of transition because passions seem to present themselves as financial and career risks. Sometimes it is not an obvious route to monetize a passion but we tend to foreclose options by pre-deciding against them.
I had a client with a passion for gourmet food, cooking, and great restaurants. Fortunately she lived in San Francisco so they all were in abundance. After years of working in public relations in consumer brands, she segued into the hospitality industry. She started with small steps: writing articles, attending food events to network and doing some public relations pro bono work for a small ethnic restaurant in to promote their unique cuisine. She is now with an executive in a San Francisco public relations firm in their food vertical.
Yes, there are trade-offs to consider, priorities to rearrange and terms to come to. Using values checklists are really helpful in developing clarity on what’s important in your life. Many of my conversations with executives revolve about how to sort through their values, career criteria and options to put meaning, and passion back into their work lives.
My clients have reported in retrospect, that the hardest step was the first one.It takes courage to quit, relocate, or to simplify life and finances to enable the pursuit of a passion. However, when past that first roadblock, the rest of the journey became an open highway of delight and adventure leading them to lives and experiences they had always dreamed about. And, they are living out their passions.