If you missed last week’s London event on finding meaningful work because you’re based in the States – good news! We’re running an Escape Lab with Priya Parker this Sunday in NYC – you can read more here. Similar to the event below, it is designed to help members regain clarity, focus, and energy. For those who are located out of London and New York, we’re working to bring you more e-products that make the distance between you and these career experts irrelevant. For now, a summary of last week’s event below.
We gathered at Adam Street Club on July 1st to hear from Richard Alderson (the co-founder of Journeys for change and CareerShifters) and Rosie Walford (the founder of The Big Stretch). Both of them are shining examples of what Laurence Boldt meant when he said, “To the extent that your work meets the needs of the world, it will be meaningful. To the extent that through it you use your talents, it will be joyful.” Richard shared three main points with the crowd.
1. “Boldness trumps mediocrity.”
It is difficult to know what you want to do when you don’t know what else is out there. Richard was working as an IBM consultant and had no idea what else he could be doing, so the first step he took was shadowing his friends in their offices to see how their day-to-day differed from his own. One friend did PR, another traded Japanese stock bonds, another worked at a non-profit startup.
He talked about how when he walked into that non-profit startup’s office, he was hit by an energy that he had never felt before. There were ex-Accenture and ex-McKinsey consultants having the time of their life.
“I could not have designed more of a dream job for myself than this role,” one lady said to him. He had never heard anyone say that before. Eventually, he joined the company, taking a 30% salary cut but knowing it was worth every penny because of the warm feeling he got as he went in every morning.
“I didn’t want a mediocre life but when I made that bold decision to leave IBM all kinds of things opened up to me,” he said.
2. “Action trumps thinking.”
When Richard was at IBM, he felt physically sick and “so inauthentic” – after one meeting, he said he realised that he really didn’t want to be his boss or his boss’s boss. When he looked back on his life, he wanted to know that he had done something meaningful with his time.
He fell into a depressive state and had no idea what else to do. He used to go home after work and wrap himself up in his duvet, feeling very stupid for not knowing what he truly wanted. Things only became clearer when he got out of his normal environment.
“If I had tried to use thinking to help – I would’ve ended up in loony bin,” he says. “I had to take action and go out into the world. And meet new people.”
3. “Meaning trumps money.”
Richard said, “If I continued with IBM I might have been earning more… but if you offered me more money with former colleagues I wouldn’t trade if in anything.”
He said that moving ourselves away from our normal context is first necessary step. While it’s hard to know what an alternative career to the one you’re doing now could look like, Rosie talked about frustration being a pointer for what you want to stand for – all the things that annoy you are clues as to what you want to be doing – a lesson that I have also often found myself also relaying to members.
Rosie pointed out that the common mistakes she often sees career changers make is that they lack understanding of the ecosystem they wish to transition into and so they fail to understand what is actually needed, leading to ill-conceived projects. She suggests that a logical first step is to start small: “Get a sense of what the culture is like at other companies in other industries and what everyone is doing. People are happy to talk and don’t be afraid to ask them what they do all day and what it means to them.”
New events at Adam Street Club will be announced in the upcoming weeks. For now, if you’d like to join us for our Lab with Priya Parker this Sunday in NYC – read more here.