Jon Acuff is a writer about stuff that matters to us – our jobs and careers. How we spend much of our waking life can make for a joyful, fulfilling journey. Or, on the flip side, it can be an excruciatingly dull and seemingly pointless work life with too little to show for it. What should give hope to any of us in that latter camp is that we can “do over” our work lives. Anyone can.
If you are the midst of a do over of your job or career, Jon Acuff is a guy who’s been there. In his book by the title Do Over, he gives great counsel about how to get started and how to persevere to the goal. He’s also funny, which helps a lot.
As hard as we work to excel on our jobs and to “make good” in our careers, we rarely have good mentoring in that. Jon is such a mentor. He’s fielded a few career ceilings, bumps, and jumps. With those, he’s also availed himself of career opportunities that we could experience as well…if we’re willing to do what’s necessary.
I’m reading Do Over right now, being in the midst of a career bump and jump myself. Then there are some younger people in my life, skilled and gifted, who are struggling also with next steps. If we attend to Jon’s wisdom on these pages, those next steps could get us where we hope to go.
In his book, Jon describes what he’s defined as a Career Savings Account (CSA). It consists of four resources that we bring to our career. They are relationships, skills, character and hustle.
Career Savings Acct . = Relationships + Skills + Character x Hustle*
“Relationships = Who you know. The gang you lock arms with during your career.
Skills = What you do. The tools you use to build your career.
Character = Who you are. The mortar that holds the entire CSA together.
Hustle = How you work. The fuel that pushes you to do the things other people don’t, so you can enjoy the results other people won’t.”*
We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” This is partly true, but more true is investing all of who we are into our work – our skills, relationships, character, and hustle. What needs to happen in pursuing a career? A work we could love to do for life? It is in bringing to bear not just one, two, or three of these resources, but all four of them. This is the key, says Jon Acuff.
The book Do Over has several strong visuals, helpful for those of us who need to “see” concepts to understand them well. The chart below demonstrates the four resources we invest, and where they are most valuable depending on the career situation. Whether it was a voluntary jump to a different job or an involuntary firing or layoff, for example. Or whether the experience was negative or positive.
Acuff writes, “When you hit a ceiling it is your “skills” that will be the hammer that helps you break through. “Character” is the investment in the CSA that will most greatly impact your ability to have a successful Career Jump. [With career opportunities], “hustle” is the investment that will help you make the most of these unexpected moments. [With Career Bumps], “relationships” are critical because community is what will carry us through challenges like this.”
However, don’t forget, whatever your situation, maximizing all four resources could mean the difference in that opportunity coming your way…or to someone else.
Warning: Two Things Could Ruin Your Career Do Over – Fear and Complacency. Acuff describes these as tag-team partners in a wrestling match. When you have reasoned with yourself well enough that fear backs off, then complacency can set in on you. Either of these could sideline you in a situation that drains the life out of you but you don’t think you can do anything to change it. The truth is, you always can.
“Great lives are very rarely created in great comfort” (Jon Acuff). You may battle complacency every day and fear every night. Still, you can do what it takes to position yourself for the lifework of your dreams. We believed it as children, and we can recapture that zeal as adults, if we’re willing.
Jon Acuff has given me greater hope…and I’ve only finished page 23 of the book! If you know you need a change in your work life, get a copy of this book. If you financially or emotionally are not in a place where you can or are willing, take advantage of what I’m learning.
Build your career savings account as Jon has already encouraged. He also lists two things you can do immediately, to start turning things around at work.
“If you want to have a better job right this second, that’s possible. All you have to do is choose your attitude and adjust your expectations.”
Acuff makes the distinction of choosing your attitude rather than changing it. On the job today, you can choose to have a decent attitude. You can choose to not be smug or cynical. You can choose not to complain. You can choose to treat your coworkers, boss, and customers like they’re rock stars. Your attitude is up to you. All through the day, you choose how you act and react. You don’t necessarily go with your feelings or what you think they deserve. You determine to treat people in good faith. That choosing has huge dividends in your current work situation and building toward the next.
Secondly, Acuff says to adjust your expectations. “What are you expecting your job to do for you? Take three minutes and write down what your expectations are for work. And then, take another three minutes and write down the real ones because you probably just lied to yourself a little bit…write them down and then find the right home for them [either at work, at home, in a hobby, or other investment of your time/energy].”
So that’s what I’ve learned so far. In weeks ahead I’ll put up another set of notes or so. Jon goes into depth, through his book, in each of the investments (relationships, skills, character, and hustle). I’ve looked ahead and have my index cards already for his next assignment. Hope you learn along with me…and go for it!
Don’t give up. Our lives are so short. Be about what you were put on this Earth for…we need you, right where you’re supposed to be.
Photo Credit: ChurchLeaders.com