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Hands Up

                           APRIL 28 / STEVE MILLER

Me speaking to a group of about three hundred:

Hands up - who has vacation plans? (3/4 of the room put hands up)Those of you with your hands down - put them up if you would like to have them. (Most of the room)

Hands up - who has a fitness plan? (About a third) Those of you with your hands down - put them up if you intend to get one.(Most of the room).

Hands up - who has a retirement plan? (Little less than a third) Those of you with your hands down - put them up if you intend to get one. (Most of the room).

Hands up - who has a career plan? (Three or four people) Those of you with your hands down - put them up if you intend to get one. (Some scattered people hesitantly put their hands up and down, watching what others do).

(If you missed the previous article, click here)Did you notice that more people have retirement plans than career plans?

What is a career plan? “How to get a job?” “How to keep your job?” “How to get a promotion?”

Me - “Aye yi yi! Probably just as well that I didn’t ask about funeral plans.”

My guess, based on informal surveys, is that over 90% of career coaches do not have career plans. Me (in my best time-salesman voice) “What if I told you that having a career plan was the single most important step you can take to help your family, community and the world? If you give me your undivided attention for the next 45 minutes I promise you two nights poolside at a four-star  resort.” I give this promise hoping that not everyone is aware that, at the right time of night, from the corner of my sundeck, you can sometimes see four stars.

Having a career plan means you have declared what you will contribute to making the world a better place. You have decided where you are going to chip-in. Notice I did not say “discovered.” Connecting with a contribution you desire to make, may feel like a discovery but it doesn’t have to be.

To develop a career plan you simply decide what is the contribution you will make through your work and that contribution becomes the foundation of your plan. The stronger the connection you have with the purpose you have selected will greatly depend upon the level of self-awareness you allow yourself to have (much more on this in following articles) but any contribution that you feel will improve the world is enough to start a career plan with.

This is the switch from Industrial Age to Informational Age thinking. John F. Kennedy was getting close to this when he said “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” He may not have been well rewarded for his ‘Aha Moment!’ but that doesn’t take away from the usefulness of it.

And please don’t forget that the gains achieved through the hard work mentality of the Industrial Age paved the way for us to make career plans such as I am presenting here. As mentioned in previous articles, the healthy wealth accumulated by previous generations has passed the responsibility of integrity to the current ones.


I often take inspiration from the story of Tikkun Olam in Judaism tradition where the world is viewed as a broken vase and each of us is a shard. Our work is to find where our shard fits in order to make the vase whole again.

Although the pieces are all different sizes and shapes the vase will not be complete, or able to meet its full potential, until each piece finds its place. Some pieces lay close to each other, others are far away from the core of the vase. Some find their spot with seemingly effortless ease, others do not even know they are a piece of a vase, they think they are all there is. Others think the other pieces are in competition with them, when they are actually part of them, imagine that!

Forging a successful career has little to do with competition, there is no competition for the contribution you decide to give to the world. And it can be delivered in many shapes and forms. My dad made the world a better place by empowering those around him - he used the job of an electrician to deliver that purpose. I once met a taxi driver whose purpose, that he was very conscious of, was to make the world happier.

My dad and the taxi driver served the world through their contributions. Others try to solve problems such as disease, homelessness, climate change, etc. I know janitors of hospitals who are doing what they do as their part of chipping in to cure cancer. The trick here is to define how you want to participate and how you will make a living while doing so. 

The first step in writing an effective career plan is to make the decision to base your work on a contribution. This does not mean quitting your current job and joining a commune in the Nevada desert. Or, if you are unemployed, not working until you are absolutely clear on purpose and have had at least five life-changing epiphanies.

It involves deciding upon what area you want to begin contributing in and how you can make that happen from wherever you are at now. Eating and avoiding being eaten are the prerequisites to career planning.

Hands up --- who wants to chip in?
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