Neil Tambe

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

Reframing How I View My Job, Career

I've begun thinking about my job and career differently; my perspective has evolved throughout and because of business school. I used to think about the job that I would like, even a job that I would be good at. A job that gave me the lifestyle, purpose, happiness, and pay I wanted. My "dream" job.

In retrospect, I consider that a self-centered view of my job and career.

But, I've learned in the past few years that true happiness comes from serving others, not yourself (the data is incontrovertible). That's helped me rethink how I make decisions about my job and career.

I figure, if happiness comes from being other-focused and how I view my career is self-focused, I probably won't be happy. As a result, I've decided to view my career in an other-focused way.

Now, instead of asking myself questions like, "What kind of job will I like?", I ask myself a different question that's more other-focused. I ask myself: "In my life, who am I excited to serve? Who's the customer I care about?" This reframing has changed how I've viewed my job after business school, a lot.

I think there are a lot of legitimate ways to answer this question, and what I've found is that it's most important is to be honest with yourself.

For example, I've chosen a job where I get to serve people in the City I live in. My customers are the current and future residents of the City of Detroit. But my "customer" is also my family. I chose a job that affords me a good (not lavish) lifestyle but allows me not to travel every week. It's a job that I'll likely have stress from, but it will be one that energizes me with optimism - I won't take negative emotion back to my family.

Maybe the customers you care about are other people in your company. Maybe it's the hungry or sick. Maybe it's CEOs. Maybe it's small businesses. I don't know, only you do. But what I'm saying, is that it's worth figuring out who you care about serving rather than figuring out what you like. If you're not excited to serve your "customer", you probably won't be happy.

Like most decisions, reframing the question I asked when considering a job / career change made a huge difference.