Most of us are familiar with the expression, “If you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life.” As someone who’s been married for 35 years, raised four children, and co-founded and advised companies for a living, I can tell you that love takes work–in fact, love makes me want to work harder; it’s what gives it its value. The real lesson is: if you do what you love, you’ll stay inspired and motivated.

When I talk to people about their careers, a common idea held by everyone from college graduates with C-suite aspirations to managers in the midst of navigating their professional trajectories is that to succeed, they need to be good at everything that comes their way. There’s a control element at play, but more notably, there’s a lack of self-knowledge and confidence that honing their own unique skill set will be enough to chart a path to success. The real question boils down to: what does success actually feel like?

Early in my career, while still attending college, I started selling plastic raw materials and supporting products paid on commission only. I found out pretty quickly that I was pretty good at sales and was able to make a great living and support my growing family. But I wouldn’t say I liked it. I had a little voice in my head telling me that there was something out there that I was better at that would make me happier.

It took me way longer than it should have to step out and do the next thing. It’s tough to give up a lucrative job and the lifestyle that comes with it, to risk it all on what you deem to be doing just fine. I could sell with the best of them, but I couldn’t entirely sell myself on the idea that that was my special purpose in life. So I started asking myself what it was that was missing and was able to zero in on the fact that what I love to do is solve problems.

I dug deep into my experience and the network of people I had met through my years of work up to that point and kept on looking for the right combination of need and know-how that would allow me to tackle a big idea and make a real impact. I found my answer in co-founding the company called Correct Care Solutions (now Wellpath) and never looked back.

Since that personal discovery, it’s been my mission to help expedite the process for other people, to help them find their true calling, and connect them with the right jobs.

People work harder, teams work better, and businesses thrive when everyone is focused and in tune with what keeps them motivated to do better than anyone else.

It’s so much easier to succeed when everyone gets out of bed with the genuine desire to learn, grow, and contribute to the bottom line. Happier people make for healthier businesses.

So how does one actually do it? In my mind, a lot of it is just about getting people to boost their consciousness of what makes them tick and getting them to recognize how they can use it to develop their special skill sets. But it’s also having savvy leaders that can help encourage this line of thinking and help employees move into the right jobs.

In the earliest days of Built, we’d have big Friday lunches. Once a month at lunch’s end, I would stand up and say, “If you love this company, but you don’t love the seat you’re sitting in, raise your hand. Let’s find the right seat.” I wanted everyone to continually be thinking about their role in the company, and ask themselves if they were feeling satisfied and able to perform at their highest capacity. 

When advising people on finding their niche, I’ve discovered that there are roughly three significant steps that, sooner or later, they’ll need to follow:

1. Figure out what you’re good at. (You’ve got a lifetime of data to process!)

2. Ask yourself: What makes you happy? Do you love what you do? If you’re not satisfied, return to step one and find another skillset.

3. Embrace the unknown and take a risk by pursuing an opportunity that aligns with your true calling.

It’s all about developing a conscious awareness of what works for you. That involves recognizing your strengths, your weaknesses, and especially the areas you find where you’re operating in “the zone.” It all clicks together and generates a great deal of personal satisfaction when that happens.

A word of caution: all too often, we believe that if we have a particular skill, anyone can do it or that it’s just natural. I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. Breaking through that thought pattern is key to finding your calling. You are unique, and your skillset is too.

I’ll mention that this concept isn’t new. Richard Bolles’s book “What Color is Your Parachute?” was self-published in 1970. Its key recommendation was to network your way to the hiring manager. But its other message was to find out what you’re best at and what you enjoy most — then find that job.

More recently, Gallup has done considerable research through their CliftonStrengths Assessment. Their assessment, which you can find online, identifies your top strengths among the 34 themes they’ve identified. They call it your Talent DNA.

If you’re stuck trying to identify your calling, these are ways to renew your search. You may not find a breakthrough, but it can reinforce what you’ve been experiencing throughout your career. And it could just help you move toward that next opportunity to fully realize your potential. I like these in there

In summary, I love what I do. It’s been a theme in my life that I wish I’d found much, much sooner. My advice? Find what you love, and the work will all be worth it.

July 20, 2022 by Scott Sohr