I've been thinking recently about finding professional fulfillment, not just personally but as a general concept. What makes a job satisfying? What constitutes fulfillment? What factors have to be balanced to achieve it? I've tried to illustrate the process of asking and answering these questions with the graphs below, although at this point the idea is still a work in progress:
(Here's a larger version of the same graph.) The basic concept is that our choice of job or profession is influenced by four primary forces: Extrinsic Rewards, Intrinsic Rewards, Role and Context. These forces may not be in direct opposition to each other in a zero-sum relationship (i.e. greater extrinsic rewards equals fewer intrinsic rewards, and vice versa), but they can be at times, and at the very least they often pull us in different directions.
We're most fulfilled professionally when these forces are in balance, and we hit the bullseye--our personal sweet spot. When one or more of the forces is too strong or too weak, we're pulled away from the center, and the resulting imbalance eventually leads to frustration.
A few further comments that reflect the work-in-progress nature of this concept:
And here's something less than optimal--let's say the right context, but the wrong role, and sufficient intrinsic rewards, but somewhat insufficient extrinsic rewards (again, a larger version):
I'm not sure if this graphical concept is adequate to represent the dynamic nature of the process, nor am I sure that these should be the four primary forces, or that they're generally applicable. But I think it's a good start--and I have to say that I really like the "target practice" metaphor. Presumably as we come to better understand ourselves--our capabilities and our needs--and how we function in a professional setting, our "aim" will improve. (And if you just can't get enough of these graphs, here's a PowerPoint file with all three.)
Good Lord, I love Anita O'Day. One of the greatest jazz artists this country has ever seen--nearly Ella's equal as a scat-singer, but with a richer emotional palette (and a helluva back story), and unique in her ability to combine technical artistry with lyric interpretation. Two exhibits for the prosecution: Sweet Georgia Brown and Tea for Two, both from the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. (Thanks to YouTube user jfhancock. And if you can explain the rationale for the extensive crowd shots when Anita was onstage looking like this, I'd be grateful.)
Jim Leyland is one of the most highly regarded managers in baseball. He has a losing career record (1,125 wins and 1,158 losses over 15 seasons), but considering that he spent 11 years with the penny-pinching Pittsburgh Pirates and later watched helplessly as the Florida Marlins sold off their stars after the '97 World Series, it's amazing that he's so close to .500. (And if his Detroit Tigers keep winning at their current pace and go deep into the playoffs, Leyland could conceivably cross that threshold this season.)
Gwen Knapp has an article in today's San Francisco Chronicle on Leyland, prompted by the Tigers' surprising turnaround under his leadership. Knapp cites three hallmarks of Leyland's style that have contributed to his success that struck me as more broadly applicable:
1) He Cares About His Team And They Know It
Tigers coach and former Pirate Andy Van Slyke notes that, "For a long time when I was in St. Louis, I felt like a performance car with no fuel in my tank, and when I came to Pittsburgh, Jim Leyland became my fuel...I felt like my career was more important to him than [it was to me.] I think a lot of managers will say that, but the players will tell you that's not the case."
2) He Does It His Way
Mario Impemba, a Detroit broadcaster, believes Leyland "ignores stodgy baseball rules in ways that enliven the Tigers," according to Knapp, and as a result, Impemba says, Leyland "presents a challenge to the manager on the other side because he's unorthodox...They can't know what to expect."
3) He's Focused on the Process
Van Slyke again: "The great thing about playing for Jim Leyland is that he doesn't care about winning and losing...I'm not saying he accepts losing. But his emphasis has always been on effort and preparation, and if you have that, you can go to bed at night."
(Of course, my admiration for Leyland's success shouldn't obscure the fact that his '97 Marlins were the beneficiaries of a deeply screwed-up playoff format that sent the division-winning Giants to Miami for the first two games in the series. But that's my problem, not his.)
tag: jim leyland