A new Dutch television programme lets students ask questions to well-known people. The first two people interviewed were a former bank president and a famous pop singer. Although both interviewees represented two totally different walks of life, they had a similar advice: do the work you like to do. Don’t do work you only do because it seems important for your career, while you don’t like it. Don’t make music you think will sell best while you aren’t fully behind it. When you do the things you like, you will be at your best. Unintentionally, you will give your career the best chance of success.
The fact that this advice is given shows that putting it into practice is not self-evident. Perhaps the most successful career people have a strong inner drive to accomplish one particular thing. Other people, however, may be open to different tasks. Within that range, they may rightfully ask themselves what kind of work would be suitable to them, also on the long run.
I remember a commentator saying that nowadays senior managers are also being recruited from quality, safety and environmental management. The latter area had increasingly become of strategic value to many companies. In a number of industries, having a CEO with in-depth knowledge about it, could be highly relevant.
For someone whose core ambitions are in the field of quality, safety and environment, the above statement seems unimportant. However, for someone with broader ambitions that statement could trigger him/her to begin a career in that area rather than forgetting about it.
Integrating the two wisdoms, I end up with a saying of Ari Bernstein: The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.
Dr Teun Wolters