(This post takes about 3 minutes to read)
Ever driven a car that was slightly out of alignment? It might pull a little to the left or a little to the right. Generally, you can manage the inconvenience by concentrating. It is not that big of a deal, something you just live with. Occasionally, when you adjust the radio or heater, you might lose your concentration and find yourself drifting into the wrong lane. You become aware and snap back into the right place.
Sometimes, alignment can be seriously off. The car REALLY wants to go left or right. You have to muscle it all of the time just to keep it going straight. Driving becomes a struggle. It takes constant attention and drains lots of energy from what could be a simple endeavor.
Whether it is “slightly out of” or “seriously off”, alignment also has a negative impact on the car. You wear out your tires in an unnatural way. Other mechanical devices get worn differently than if the car was in alignment. You are probably facing much higher costs down the road when those parts wear out.
Ever think your career is out of alignment?
I think it is the same thing with a career. We get out of alignment. What we are doing does not quite match up to what we would like to do. Or it does not match who we really are. We find ourselves drifting. We seem to be low on energy. The bad boss. The unfriendly customers. The endless red tape and paperwork. Doing a job with no meaning. But we decide that we can “put up” with the misalignment “for a while” because it is “not that bad”. Or worse yet, we are so accustomed to it that we hardly notice it.
Is your career, or the job you were in right now, out of alignment? Is it slightly out of alignment, making you vaguely uncomfortable some or all of the time? Or is it totally out of alignment, where it is a struggle to get through each day? Just like the parts of a car, misalignment in a career has bad, long-term consequences. You lose energy. You are worn down. You don’t last as long as you would like.
In his book Barking Up the Wrong Tree, author Eric Barker says this:
What is the most important thing to remember when it comes to success?
One word- Alignment
Success is not the result of any single quality; it’s about alignment between who you are and where you choose to be. The right skill in the right role. A good person surrounded by other good people. A story that connects you with the world in a way that keeps you going. A network that helps you, and a job that leverages your natural introversion or extroversion. A level of confidence that keeps you going while learning and forgiving yourself for the inevitable failures. A balance between the big four (happiness, achievement, significance and legacy) that creates a well-rounded life with no regrets.
A story that connects you with the world in a way that keeps you going.
Notice he did not say the most important thing to think about success is “money”. Or “prestige”. Or “the most toys”. Or the “right” job title. Focusing on alignment may just give us the metaphor we need for our careers
He further defines the “Big 4” that we need to balance this way:
- Happiness = Enjoying yourself and the people around you
- Achievement = Winning/hitting goals that mean something to you
- Significance = Counting to others (not counting ON others)
- Legacy = extending your values to help others (now and when you are gone)
Maybe that provides a formula for you to consider how to achieve alignment. Focusing on those four aligns you with yourself (enjoying self and achieving my goals) and those around you (counting to others and a legacy that outlives you). Aligning to people – not things – is important.
Maybe it is time for you to “get in the shop” and realign yourself. Your mind and body will thank you for it.