As I look back on my life’s journey, one of the things that stands out most is that our happiness and success depend on our choices. Choose the wrong path and you’re virtually guaranteed to arrive at a destination that is less than your potential and may, in fact, bring discouragement and heartache.
My focus on this concept of choices hasn’t been a casual one. For over 30 years, I’ve led development teams that researched, developed, and validated several behavioral and career assessments that have been used worldwide by more than 300,000 individuals, including Fortune 500 companies and nationally recognized non-profits. So, my point of view is framed by my extensive research and experience in the assessment and development of human behavior.
Choosing Our Direction
Choices occur in both our work and our personal lives. Several wise and famous leaders of the 20th and 21st centuries have commented on this fact –
“Effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” – John F. Kennedy [Tweet This]
“Education without direction is a one-sided social value. Direct action without education is a meaningless expression of pure energy.” – Martin Luther King [Tweet This]
“Direction not intention determines your destination.” – Andy Stanley [Tweet This]
These three quotes are slightly different, but they all highlight the importance of direction.
What is implied is that we have the unique power and responsibility to choose our direction. As we watch our young people stepping out into the world, one of the greatest gifts we can give them is an appreciation and methodology for making good choices—choices that will bring rewards and fulfillment in their life and career.
In this month’s 5-minute coaching clip, I describe these choices in more detail as well as answer a couple of popular FAQs on this topic. Please watch below –
How can we help them see that those choices will depend both on their unique personal design and the common wisdom that guides and protects all humankind? I like to call this two-part approach a person’s “operating system” for living.
Let’s unpack these two concepts as though you’re speaking to your next generation leader –
- Make choices based on your uniqueness (a micro focus).
This is the starting point. There is no one else in the world like you; therefore, what works for others may not work for you. To understand your unique design, there are several key knowledge points that are important to choose your direction.
- Your natural talents. Much of my work and past experience in career guidance hinges on our “go to” natural behaviors (talents). They are collectively called one’s DNA Behavior, and you can never be both successful and happy unless you’re using your best talents. Some people work best alone and with details of facts and data. Other people work best with lots of people interaction and operate better with general concepts. Both are critical in the workplace, but most of us are more one than the other.
- Your passions and interests. What excites you, gets your attention, and draws you in? For me it was adventure, aviation, sports, and variety. For my brother, it was more in teaching and coaching and helping others develop. And none of our children’s passions and interests were exactly like ours. But as a career coach, I learned that you should go with the flow of your passions, or you will likely be swimming upstream struggling against the current. Choose to do what you love, and you’ll always enjoy working.
- Your skills. These are important, but generally are learned and developed as you go along, and typically, they are the places where your talents and interests overlap.
- Your values. Values are assessed from several areas.
- Life Values focus on those character and related standards that are most important to you. What are your values that define how you will live your life?
- Work Outcome Values help you identify if money, fame, helping people, or conquering big challenges will be most important for you.
- Work Environment Values help you define the type of workplace that suits you best. Do you prefer inside or outside, high risk or low risk, etc.?
“The earlier that you can confirm your unique design as an individual, the more time you’ll have to fulfill your purpose.” [Tweet This]
When we launched a career assessment for high school students, it was designed and intended for teens. But the minute it went public, the demand came from adults who were not happy in their work. Over the next few years, the demand from adults was 2 to 1 over teens. Choose to intentionally understand your unique design now rather than just “let it happen” over time.
- Make choices based on the wisdom of human design (a macro focus).
Choices based your unique design are crucial, but so are the choices that come from wisdom that applies to all people. These are the principles and mindsets that have existed through the ages to guide and protect people of all cultures. These are not unique but apply to all.
What interferes with your making wise choices? It could be your ignorance, upbringing, lack of opportunities, or doubts and fears. What’s the solution to making wise choices? You must stay connected to others who can help you gain wisdom.
Gaining wisdom is the sharpening tool for consistently operating with good judgment. You can master your understanding of your unique design, but bad choices in wisdom can take you off course very quickly with potentially painful consequences.
Through others, you learn wisdom for critical situations that enable you to courageously choose the wise path and perfect your personal “operating system”. As evidenced by these verses from the Bible, wisdom isn’t a new concept, but it’s been proven to work for those who seek it –
- “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” – Proverbs 1:5 ESV
- “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding.” – Proverbs 3:13 ESV
Why not take the time now to help your next generation leaders understand their uniqueness and gain wisdom for their futures? I’m glad they have an honorable leader like you to help them.
LE [Tweet This Article]
3 Resources to Help Guide Your Career Journey
Leadership Behavior DNA – Purchase the Assessment
This 19-page report provides accurate, personalized results on Insights on Leadership DNA Traits (based on the eight factors of behavior), Natural Leadership Strengths and Struggles, Natural Communication Style, Results vs. Relationships Balance, and includes a personal development plan in the report for applying the results.
Leadership Behavior DNA – Purchase the Book
Understanding Natural Behavior is Today’s Hidden Competitive Advantage – Grounded in statistical research and supported by data from millions of clients and more than 45 years of workplace experience, Lee Ellis and Hugh Massie reveal their personal stories on how they’ve successfully helped organizations achieve their goals by applying practical insights on human design.
Career Direct – Purchase the Assessment
Originally developed by Lee Ellis more than 20 years ago, the Career Direct assessment examines four critical components of career selection to help you discover what you were made to do. Learn more at the link above with the organization that continues to use this assessment.
Crush Your Career book – Purchase the Book
Another excellent resource to consider is Dee Ann Turner’s book, Crush Your Career: Ace the Interview, Land the Job, and Launch Your Future. After more than three decades leading teams and coaching staff members at Chick-fil-A, she knows what it takes to build a fulfilling career.