CREATE A CAREER OF GREAT CAUSE By Chris Bittinger
CAREER MAXIMIZERWhen I ventured off on my career exploration process, I was determined to find asense of “cause” for my life. My goal was to find a way for my work and my causeto somehow collide. To make this happen, you have to seek out ways to connectyour cause to your work. I call this connection your “career of great cause.”If you do not risk dreaming about a preferred future, you greatly reduce thechance to reach that vision. If you are adrift in the daily activities with no clearpicture of the future, you slowly find yourself backed into a corner. This guide isfor those in search of a way to add meaning to their career. Whether you are inbetween jobs, feeling unfulfilled in your current job, recently graduated or lookingfor enrichment in a job you love—this is your starting point.In this guide, you’ll find four exercises to start you on the path toward discoveringyour career of great cause. I included my answers to these exercises to serve asexamples to get you on the right track. Completing these exercises will help yougain clarity and focus as you pursue these important next steps in your career.
EXERCISE ONE: A CAUSE, NOT A JOBAs you pursue this journey, continue to remind yourself that this is a journey fora cause and not a job. The moment you begin to think of this as a job search, youwill likely find yourself feeling discouraged and down—I know that was the casefor me. Remember that this search is an opportunity for your personal cause tointersect with your ability to make a living.Write down 5 things about your own story that could inspire a cause. 1. __________________________________________________________________ 2. __________________________________________________________________ 3. __________________________________________________________________ 4. __________________________________________________________________ 5. __________________________________________________________________Here is the list I made: • When I was 5 years old, my dad indicated that I always wanted to share a cracker or snack with him. • When I was 7 years old, I was the person in my house who asked my parents if we could help a family in need for Christmas. • Growing up I was the neighborhood leader, initiating fun activities and calling my friends over to play an exciting game of hot box. • In college, I was the person who gathered students together for a Bible study because I felt like it was important. • I remember enjoying 1:1 conversations and helping my classmates get unstuck in their lives.
EXERCISE TWO: 4 WAYS TO FIND YOUR CAUSEI admit it’s not easy to track down your cause. Here are a few ways to focus yourthinking and gain clarity as you begin thinking about your cause.1) List out at least 2 moments in your life when you felt like you were in thezone. The moments in which you were engaged, enthused and, most importantly,bringing about positive results. This will help you identify the places where youhave been and what you might need to explore. 1. _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ 2. _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________Here are my examples: 1. During a time of leadership transition in my corporate career, I was given the opportunity to help lead a team to ensure business objectives were met. This time was very meaningful to me because I felt connected to our CEO during a time of organizational uncertainty and found myself in a position to really help the team reach the sales goal. We exceeded the goal by 16% and were able to give bonuses to every employee inside our organization. I felt engaged and a sense of ownership. 2. Over the past 16 years, I have been able to connect with students, executives and managers to help them gain clarity in relationships with others, their leadership abilities, client issues and operational problems. Ninety percent of the time this took place in a 1:1 discussion, which is where I find myself most engaged and in the “zone.”
2) Talk to those people who you consider to be people of cause. It is inspiring.Ask them, “What gets you up in the morning?” Then ask yourself, “What gets me up in the morning?” ________________________________What gets me up in the morning is the opportunity to serve others by meetingpeople where they are and helping them take the next step.3) Read everything you possibly can by the people you admire and the peoplewho have a cause. Write down 3 big takeaways from your reading that point youin the direction of your cause: 1. __________________________________________________________________ 2. __________________________________________________________________ 3. __________________________________________________________________4) Look in your current environment for ways to contribute in areas of interest.Start contributing, even in a small ways, to allow you to test out different causes.5) Do the Informal 360 Exercise. Send 15-20 emails to friends, former colleaguesand family members to gain feedback on what they have observed in your life. Here are some sample questions to ask: 1. Provide me some examples of when you have seen me at my best. 2. Describe what you think are my best accomplishments. 3. What do you think is my unique contribution to this world? 4. What type of work environment do you think I would thrive in? 5. When have you seen me most frustrated? What do you think the factors were that led to this frustration?
EXERCISE THREE: INSTRUMENTAL VS. FUNDAMENTALLet’s take a cue from Dan Pink to start brainstorming some next steps you cantake in your search for a career of great cause. In The Adventures of JohnnyBunko, Dan Pink points out that in our career path we make decisions forinstrumental and fundamental reasons. An instrumental reason is made becauseyou think it is going to lead to something else, regardless of whether you enjoyit. A fundamental reason is made because YOU think it is inherently valuableregardless of where it may lead.Write down at least 1 example when you made a decision based on instrumentalreasons. Decision: What did it lead to? Did it accomplish what you thought it would accomplish? Yes No Did it result in you feeling more or less fulfilled? Yes No Do you regret making this decision? Yes No Why or why not?Write down at least 1 example when you made decisions based on fundamentalreasons. Decision: What did it lead to? Did it accomplish what you thought it would accomplish? Yes No Did it result in you feeling more or less fulfilled? More Less Do you regret making this decision? Yes No Why or why not?
Here are my answers:Instrumental reason: Early on in my financial services career, someoneencouraged me to get my MBA in Accounting. The idea was that it would opendoors and provide flexibility. I did not really enjoy accounting. I liked the conceptsand felt like I was sharpening my sword, but I am not accountant material. In theback of my mind, I thought it would lead to something else. Decision: MBA in Accounting What did it lead to? Something to put on a resume, knowledge. Did it accomplish what you thought it would accomplish? No Did it result in you feeling more or less fulfilled? Less fulfilled Do you regret making this decision? No Why or why not? It has some value.Fundamental Reason: Pursuing this idea of helping folks move from point A topoint B in their career process is something I feel is inherently valuable. I do notknow what it will lead to. Decision: Open Pivot What did they lead to? Opportunity to help others find their cause Did it accomplish what you thought it would accomplish? I hope so. Did it result in you feeling more or less fulfilled? More, I feel engaged, fulfilled, purposeful, happy and creative. Do you regret making this decision? No Why or why not? I am passionate about people and their development.Now, think of the decisions that you must make to take the next steps in yourcareer. Think of both fundamental reasons and instrumental reasons that willguide you in making these decisions. Keep in mind the examples of fundamentalreasons and instrumental reasons that you came up with and what the outcomeswere.
EXERCISE FOUR: WAVING THE MAGIC WANDNow that you’ve had a chance to give your cause a little thought, you should beready for the next exercise. Here the objective is to get you thinking about whatyou want without worrying if it is possible. This is a chance for you to dream bigand discover what you would choose to do if you knew you could do anything. Ichallenge you to come up with the perfect picture of what you would be doing,how much money you would be making doing it and what you would have in yournext career. Simply put, find a quiet place, focus your energy and write downeverything you want out of your personal life and your work life.Write down at least 6 items related to your perfect picture: • I would be • I would feel • I would have • • •Here is a brief snapshot of what I came up with: • I would be making six figures. • I would be working 1:1 with clients 70% of the time. • I would be training 20% of the time. • I would be planning/reading/prepping/training the other 10%. • I would have autonomy. • I would have tons of variety.Now, pick your favorite items from this exercise that relate to what you discoveredabout yourself in the first three exercises. Is this your cause?If your answer is yes, it’s time to create a plan for how you want to pursue it. Forexample: You want to go to Europe to develop yourself as a writer? Price it out. Cutout pictures and visualize yourself in Europe. Even better, set a date and a budgetso you can go!
CHECKING INAs I pursued my plan for making my career of great cause a reality, I made ahabit of revisiting what I wrote as I went through these exercises. This practicereaffirmed that the new direction I was taking in my career aligned with thegoals I set out to accomplish. I believe it is a true testimony of the importance ofdocumenting and revisiting goals. It serves as both a life vision and a vision forwhere you want to take your work. The checking-in process is about evaluatingyourself after completing this exercise to see if your work is lining up with yourcause and to see if your dream is becoming more of your current reality. Holdyourself accountable and see how you’re progressing. Revisit what you wrotedown during the exercises to see how things are coming along. And continue toask yourself, “Is this my cause?”I hope you will share with me what this journey reveals to you. If you find thatyou need guidance as you go through these exercises, please do not hesitate to getin touch with me. I will be delighted to hear from you. After all, my own career ofgreat cause it to help you find yours.I invite you to contact me for guidance as you pursue this journey. firstname.lastname@example.org // 317.431.7182 theopenpivot.comChris Bittinger launched his “Search for a Cause” initiative in 2009, which allowed himto connect with more than 50 leaders in Indianapolis on the search for his life / workpassion. Chris is native to Indianapolis. He is a graduate of the school of education atButler University and received his Masters in Business Administration from IndianaWesleyan University. He lives in Carmel with his wife Tricia of 17 years and daughtersMargaret and Claire.