Struggling With Your Career Plan? Read this Comic Book.

Well, not really a comic book, but more like a graphic novel. But a graphic novel with impact.

I’m talking about the Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Daniel Pink. (same guy that wrote Drive, A Whole New Mind, To Sell is Human, etc)

In the story, Bunko is a low-level corporate employee who is trying to get ahead. He works harder, takes on volunteer tasks, and generally hates the shit out of his job.

So far so good right?

Then he gets help from a genie that appears when he breaks special pairs of chopsticks.

Don’t lose me.

The actual nuts and bolts of the story is unimportant. The six key takeaways and explanations are thus:

1. There is no plan.

Life is not an algebra problem; it’s more like a Salvador Dali painting. It’s nice to believe you can map out every step ahead of time and end up where you want. But that’s a fantasy most likely. Ten years from now, your job might be in India, or not even exist. You can do things for two reasons: for instrumental reasons because you think it’s going to lead to something else, regardless of whether you enjoy it or it’s worthwhile. Or you can do things for fundamental reasons, because you think it’s inherently valuable, regardless of what it may or may not lead to.

2. Think strengths, not weaknesses.

Martin Seligman and Marcus Buckingham have done plenty of research that finds that the key to success is to steer around your weaknesses and focus on your strengths. Successful people don’t try too hard to improve what they’re bad at, but rather they capitalize on what they’re good at. What do you do consistently well? What gives you energy rather than drains it? What sorts of activities create flow for you?

3. It’s not about you.

It’s about your customer. It’s about your client. Use your strengths, but remember you’re here to serve, not to self-actualize. The most successful people improve their own lives by improving others’ lives. They help their customer solve its problem. They give their client something it didn’t know it was missing. That’s where they focus their energy, talent, and brainpower. The most valuable people in any job bring out the best in others. They make their boss look good. They help their teammates succeed.

Part 2 tomorrow…

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